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2019 COABE Conference Reflections

20th November, 2019

Blog post by Amanda Blount, The Literacy Center

I began as the Executive Director of The Literacy Center in Attleboro, MA just under one year ago. I was thrilled to be offered the position, moving from what was my current home on Hawaii Island to the Attleboro area to take over this reputable community-based organization. My background is in social work and community development, and while I've worked in vocational skills training and career development before, running an adult basic education organization with nearly 600 students from 54 different countries is an entirely new challenge.

In the first few months as director here, it became increasingly clear that I was going to need a crash course in acronyms (and to learn more about best practices in the field of ABE) to really run this organization with excellence. My response was to turn to professional development. In Massachusetts, thanks to funding from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, state-funded adult basic education programs are privy to exceptional (and free) professional development – we are so fortunate. But I wanted something more intensive. While looking for additional opportunities, I came across the COABE conference website and began jumping for joy. This was just the crash course I'd been looking for. What luck that just a few weeks later I received an email announcing the grant opportunity to attend the conference from NCFL. I applied right away and was absolutely thrilled to be offered the opportunity to attend the conference funded under the grant. What a gift.

From April 1-3, I attended the conference in New Orleans. The conference convened educators, funders, vendors, and policymakers from across the country for three days of intensive trainings, resource development, and the sharing of best practices in the field of adult basic education. The sessions were diverse and professionally presented. Some of my key learnings included: a thorough orientation to current immigration policies that could have direct impact on literacy programs; innovative and cutting-edge practices in volunteer tutor training; learning how other organizations are implementing effective "Career Pathways" for adult students; and organizational management strategies that encourage effective resource sourcing and sharing.

I came back to Massachusetts bubbling over with resources that we are readying to implement in our programs. COABE was just the educational boost I needed to begin improving our programs.

Last month, The Literacy Center embarked on a strategic planning process that will chart our path for the next three years. COABE could not have come at a better time, as I now have an arsenal of resources at my disposal to strengthen and support our strategic plan for the next few years.

I want to thank everyone who made this opportunity possible, including the National Literacy Directory, the National Center for Families Learning, and everyone who participated in hosting the COABE conference! We'll see you in Baltimore!

Amanda Blount, MSW

Executive Director

The Literacy Center

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