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OTC Dean of Adult Education: Adult Ed Administrators Motivated to “Elevate” at COABE

Front row (left to right): Latoya Newsom, TN; Cori Lupton; PA; Samantha Smith, GA. Back row (left to right): Marilyn Pitzulo, IN; Peg Gould, NJ; Shaketta Thomas, VA:; Robert Moore, IN; and Sharon Bonney, FL / OTC

By Samantha Smith, Ogeechee Technical College’s Dean of Adult Education:

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Administrators in Ogeechee Technical College’s (OTC) Adult Education program convened with other practitioners in early April for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education’s (COABE) 2023 National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia where attendees were encouraged to “elevate to a higher level.”

Amidst professional development sessions, networking opportunities, and vendor exhibits, regional representatives and specialty committees met to discuss and design strategies that will support initiatives uniquely focused on adult education.  The COABE Innovations Committee met to discuss the need for comprehensive research on employer’s perceptions of the High School Equivalency (HSE).

Marilyn Pitzulo, Associate Chief for Workforce Strategy & Design in Indianapolis, Indiana leads the COABE Innovations Committee. Their work will focus on the “Behind Every Employer” initiative which addresses workforce challenges for local employers by connecting them to adult education programs that are actively training a pool of skilled future employees.   (

“I am excited to lead this COABE Committee as we explore the needs of employers. We hope to identify replicable partnership models between adult education programs and local employers as well as any barriers that stand in the way of these collaborations,” said Pitzulo. “As adult educators, we know the valuable skill-set our graduates possess and want to help employers access this rich talent pool.”

COABE CEO Sharon Bonney shared that the next step of the committee will be to, “convene a 10-state pilot study and potentially a focus group leading employers to share their insights on the HSE.”

In addition to the training and resources that COABE provides for the adult education industry, the results of this study will equip the OTC Adult Education program with the data to better connect with employers and best prepare students for career placement.

Ogeechee Technical College’s Dean of Adult Education, Samantha Smith, sits on COABE’s Innovations Committee and understands that the work is not done once the student obtains their High School Equivalency (HSE).

“Forget breaking the ceiling, we want to remove the ceiling completely for our students,” Smith shared.  “Obtaining a credential is just the beginning.  Strategic industry collaborations and understanding the diverse requirements of our employers will be key in delivering the training that will turn our students into the skilled workforce that our communities need.”

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