Adult learners from around the region entering the Adult and Community Education program at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) have long been able to count on Intake Assessment Specialists Monica Grove and Frazer Nelson to help them get their educational journey underway. Grove and Nelson are the first point of contact for adult learners returning to school to pursue their high school diploma or English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, and the two were recently recognized for their exemplary efforts.
Grove and Nelson were lauded for their outstanding and successful work with students and peers during the pandemic when they received the 2022 Leadership Award from the Maryland Association for Adult, Community and Continuing Education (MAACCE).
“It was a really great honor to be selected for a leadership award among our peers, so many of whom have been doing this for years,” said Grove.
Grove and Nelson both administer assessments that ensure that each incoming student is placed in the correct class and help them to navigate their path to completion. But their work encompasses so much more than that.
“They are the first people with whom the learners interact, and they make our returning adult learners feel comfortable,” said Patricia Meszaros, director of Adult Education, who nominated them for the award. “Returning to finish a high school diploma can be intimidating for many adults. Frazer and Monica create a welcoming atmosphere that helps to ease their nerves.”
“Monica and Frazer are both very deserving of this award and we are thrilled they have been recognized for their work,” agreed Judi Ferrara, director of Adult and Community Education. “Considering the needs of the students along with forming trusting relationships sets the students up for success. This clearly demonstrates the college’s institutional values, specifically collaboration, excellence, integrity and respect.”
Meszaros said that she was motivated to nominate the pair after seeing the work they put into moving their roles online during the pandemic. In addition to reimagining their processes to keep CSM’s program running strong, the pair also shared their knowledge in a virtual academy in which they trained other Adult Education professionals.
“They exemplified leadership by jumping in and learning everything they needed to learn to continue to enroll and assess new learners, along with post-testing current learners, without hesitation,” Meszaros said.
The pair said that the transition to online operations involved long days – “One day I saw Monica’s husband go to work while we were on Zoom, and I saw him come home and we were still on Zoom,” said Nelson – but that the students have responded positively to the opportunity to do more virtually.
The two look forward to continuing to guide adult learners and tweak their processes to meet their needs. So far this year, they’ve served upwards of 600 students.
“It’s always rewarding to see others set and achieve goals and enhance their lives, and that’s the greatest award there is,” said Nelson. “I want to be remembered as a guy who helped somebody; that’s what matters.”
“I want to help people move from one point in their life to the next and achieve their goals,” echoed Grove. “We’re fortunate that we get to see people in the beginning of their process, and then watch them grow to completion and achievement.”
CSM provides low/no-cost Adult Basic Education (ABE), GED® Preparation, the National External Diploma Program, and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction in Charles, St. Mary’s, and Calvert counties. Classes meet two times per week at various locations in the tri-county area, and online. These classes are small and learning is individualized to meet the needs of each student. If you, are someone you know, could benefit from these programs please visit online at https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/non-credit/adult-basic-education/index.html or call 301-934-7770.