This year the NJALL Annual Conference will take place fully online.
The Conference will begin with the opening plenary session on May 12th,
ollowed by three days of individual sessions.
Each day will include multiple workshops on a range of topics, including:
Literacy, Numeracy, Technology, ESOL, and insights from our Learner Writing Contest winners.
Registration for the conference is $50 per person.
Registered participants will have access to all of the sessions
and will be provided with professional development certificates
for sessions they attend in real time.
Checks and hard copies of purchase orders must be received by May 1st to guarantee registration.
Any cancellations must take place by May 1st to ensure a refund.
Click here for more information and to register for the Conference.
Please send any questions to email@example.com
Meet Kristy Khan, 2019 NJALL Scholarship winner.
Education has always been important to her, but personal and family issues interfered with completing her education during her teenage years. Taking care of family and work became her focus, working 50 hours a week for 20 years.
Kristy channeled her love of education by encouraging her 5 children, who all responded with their own fine achievements. With the support of her aunt, Kristy came face to face with the reality that it was time to focus on her own goals. She enrolled in the Bergen County Technical Schools High School Equivalency Program. Encouraged by her teacher, Jane Kelly, she earned her diploma in December 2018,
Wasting no time, Kristy immediately enrolled in Bergen County Community College, where her A’s and perseverance soon won her an invitation to the Honor’s Program and membership in Phi Theta Kappa’s national honor society. In December of 2020, Kristy completed her Associate’s Degree with honors and started to consider moving on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree.
Thinking practically, she applied to Montclair University, FDU and Berkeley College. However, during the application process, Kristy was surprised to receive a letter from Columbia University, encouraging her to apply. She assumed it was spam and ignored it, but Columbia was persistent. They knew talent when they saw it and continued pursuing Kristy by email. Having received acceptance from all of the colleges, Kristy intrepidly considered the possibility of attending this Ivy League institution. It was their stance on non-traditional students that was most appealing to her. It not only offered an Ivy League education, but was created for students just like her.
In making the final decision Kristy began to think, “I don’t want to limit myself, I do deserve this.” With the support and encouragement of her husband and family, along with a merit scholarship from the University, she is now proudly attending her first semester as a Columbia University student and looking forward to completing her Bachelor’s degree.
At first she worried about withstanding the pressures of an Ivy League institution, but soon realized that she was not alone and started networking with classmates. Although classes are challenging, her advisors suggested, “You need to think like a scholar”. This has helped Kristy adjust to the rigors of the Ivy League world. Mrs. Khan is now considering a major in psychology or anthropology, with hopes of having a career in Human Resources in the future.
More than anything else, Kristy is inspired by her children. “I want them to do better than me.” The feedback she receives from her children, shows that her return to school and achievements have inspired all of the family to value education and pursue their own dreams to the highest levels.
When asked if the NJALL Scholarship played a role in her journey, Kristy responded: “The scholarship was so reaffirming and gave me courage, knowing that NJALL had faith in me and was willing to help me reach my goals.”
NJALL is so proud of Kristy Khan and all she has achieved. We know that the sky’s the limit for this Superstar!
A Special Message from Kristy to other Adult Students:
“Congratulations on achieving one of your goals! It was a tremendous moment in my life as well, but trust me when I say, it only gets better from here. Whether you are considering applying for college or have already done so, remember you have an army of support behind you. NJALL provided me with much more than just financial support, it gave me a supportive community and that is worth so much more. They believed in me and had my back every step of the way, so, I know you will not be alone throughout this process.
College might be daunting for us nontraditional students, but as my favorite author said "fear is a poison produced by the mind, and courage is the antidote stored always in the soul" - Dean Koontz. So, always remember the power you hold because it will get you to the finish line. See you there!”
The 2021 Application is Available: HERE
Be sure to encourage your students/graduates to apply!
Calling all Adult Educators!
It's that time again!
Will your students or graduates win a
2021 NJALL Scholarship
Time for you to encourage eligible adult students and graduates with the potential to succeed in college, to apply for the 2021 NJALL Scholarships.
NJALL will award two scholarships on June 18, 2021, to two adults who earned a high school diploma by attending a New Jersey adult education program to prepare for a High School Equivalency Test or Adult HS and have been accepted to/or are attending college.
Scholarship winners can receive up to $1000 per semester for full-time enrollment in higher education (pro-rated for part/time) to a maximum of $8,000, plus a Bonus for completing a 2-year or 4-year degree.
To qualify, an applicant must be a resident of New Jersey.
Scholarship applications are open to anyone regardless of gender, race, color, religion, age, sexual orientation or disabling condition.
The 2021 Application with eligibility information is available:
All applications must be submitted, including all required documents,
postmarked no later than May 10, 2021.
The Adult Learning Writing Contest Magazine
We are pleased to announce that the Insight 2020 magazine is available.
You can download it at this link.
Thank you to all of the the learners, tutors, teachers and program directors who make this contest possible.
We hope you consider participating in the 2021 Learner Writing Contest.
Annual Conference May 12 – 15, 2021 (Online)
Due to the continuing pandemic, NJALL’s Annual Conference for 2021 will take place fully online. We will begin with an opening plenary session on May 12th, to be followed by three days of individual sessions.
Each day will include multiple workshops on a range of topics.
Registration for the conference is $50.00 per person.
Registered participants will have access to all of the sessions
and will receive professional development certificates for all sessions they attend in real time.
If you are being covered by an organization, please make sure your name and email is on the purchase order the organization submits. An electronic copy should be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individual registrations and purchase orders must be received by May 1st to guarantee registration. Any cancellations must take place by May 1st to ensure a refund.
Please send any questions to email@example.com
NJALL is holding its seventh annual adult learner writing contest. This year we will award cash prizes in five categories - fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry and photography. All of the winners and selected other submissions will be published in a free magazine that will be available from our website in the summer of 2021. Winners and their teachers/tutors will receive printed copies of the magazine (when possible).
Fiction Non-fiction Memoir Poetry Photography
1st Place - $100 2nd Place - $50 3rd Place - $25
* All adult learners are eligible, including students in adult literacy programs, those in adult high schools or equivalency programs, those in developmental education programs, those enrolled in English language classes and students studying for citizenship.
* Learners can submit one piece per category, except for poetry. Learners can submit up to five poems for consideration. Learners can send in submissions for multiple categories.
* All submissions must be original and represent the work of the learner - not the work of their teacher or tutor. Teachers/tutors may help with spelling and grammar, but it should be limited in nature. We are using the honor system with regards to this.
* English language learners can get help with translation, but the work should remain their own.
Submissions need to be received by March 26th, 2021 at firstname.lastname@example.org
The email should identify the category of the submission.
Submissions should include the learner's name and contact information and the name of the program or school they attend. The submission should also include a two or three sentence self-description of the learner. If the learner wishes to remain anonymous or use a pen-name, this information should be provided when the work is submitted. By entering the contest, the learner agrees to have their piece published in the magazine if it is selected.
All those submitting work will be notified of the decisions by April 16th, 2021.
You can download a copy of the call for submissions and guidelines here.
Please send any questions to email@example.com
Acting as a Reviewer
If you are interested in serving as a reviewer, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are particularly interested in having learners serve on the review committee.
In an effort to recognize outstanding contributions in the field, NJALL is again asking for nominations from our network of professionals and participating organizations for the following:
1. Barry Semple Lifelong Learning Leadership Award
This award is for an outstanding individual or group demonstrating responsibility, influence, courage, motivation, inspiration, direction or guidance, and has made an outstanding contribution to lifelong learning through research, program design and development, publications, effective and innovative use of funds, service to the profession, etc.
2. Teacher of the Year Award
This award is presented to an adult educator who has demonstrated professionalism and exemplary performance teaching adults in the field of lifelong learning.
Click here to download the nomination form.
Nominations are due by January 31, 2021.
Awards will be presented in May at the NJALL conference, whether it is virtual or in person. Click here to read about the 2020 winners.
Even though NJALL was not able to hold an in-person conference this year, we still wanted to honor the hard work of members of our adult education community. To that end, NJALL is pleased to highlight the work of two outstanding individuals.
Barry Semple Lifelong Leadership Award
About thirty years ago, Mariam Merced, Director of Community Health Promotions at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, reached out to the New Brunswick Public Schools Adult Learning Center (NBALC), offering a Health Fair for students at the Center. Her vision included bringing volunteer physicians and other medical personnel to provide free health screenings. These included such medical concerns as blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS and dental screening.
NBALC’s initial reaction to this offer was very cautious, when considering all the possible logistical issues and ramifications. Mariam, however, had such a clear and passionate vision, and gave the gentle reassurance, “Don’t worry, we know how to do this.” After a thorough discussion of concerns, NBALC nervously agreed to be partners.
At the first Health Fair in the early 90’s, Mariam’s team quickly set up the NBALC classrooms to resemble a health clinic. Cautiously, our students arrived and were escorted by volunteers to various screenings. Mariam’s team identified a large number of students with untreated, life threatening symptoms, who were followed up for immediate treatment. NBALC was hooked on what an incredibly important addition this was to its adult education program.
That was the beginning. NBALC continues to hold annual Health Fairs, that last one in February 2020. It has been ongoing and expanding for thirty years due to the incredible vision of Mariam Merced.
Currently, there are over 40 partners who collaborate to bring these services to the Center. In fact, screenings have, at times, been extended to the parents of children in the school district. Services include providing flu shots, cholesterol and glucose screening, blood pressure screening, dental screening, dermatology screening, HIV/AIDS testing, audiology screening, vision screening and even an opportunity to learn critical stress relieving relaxation techniques. Students who participate are provided a “Passport to a Healthy Life”, which they bring with them to each of the health screening locations to have signed by the medical personnel after the consultation. The Fair provides a safe space for providers to meet with those in the community who are in need of health care. Due to the high volume of new immigrant students at the NBALC, the Fair also serves as a bridge to connect them to the health care and social services system in the county.
Another benefit of this huge undertaking is that high school students are recruited to gain valuable volunteer experience by assisting as escorts, registrars and translators. They are provided with certificates of appreciation for their volunteer time at the conclusion.
Mariam Merced is more than worthy of this lifelong leadership award. Her compassion, knowledge, expertise, tenacity, passion and warmth have served her so well in bringing over 40 agencies to the table to collaborate in these efforts. She has effectively addressed one of the most important challenges which so many of our students face.
It is hoped that by shining a light on the outstanding leadership efforts of Mariam Merced, others in our state will be inspired to investigate similar collaborations to benefit the students we serve.
Teacher of the Year Award
Susan Pristas has served many roles as a volunteer teacher at Literacy Volunteers of Somerset County (LVSC), the most significant being the development of a Beginner ESL Program for under-served adults. Susan's tremendous dedication of time, energy, and whole-hearted commitment to creating a program, teaching students, and training fellow volunteers has been unparalleled. A program which began as a small pilot has expanded to include 120 students in two communities and is supported by 15 volunteers.
Susan is a retired teacher with a graduate degree and a log career teaching ESL, German and Spanish. LVSC does not have the budget to hire and retain someone of Susan's caliber and was thrilled that she offered her services without pay.
In 2016, LVSC came to the conclusion that its traditional tutoring program was not meeting the deeds of a growing population of Spanish speaking adults in the less affluent towns of our community. Susan identified, reviewed and created a beginning curriculum to suit the students' needs. She researched available classroom resources and then purchased (and donated) materials for the class. She then created outreach materials, and assisted with student assessment and enrollment. Finally, she piloted the first 10-week class. Eventually, she even mentored other tutors to take the materials and teach classes in other communities.
During the pilot, Susan met with students every Saturday morning in the fall of 2017. The following Monday, she would come to the LVSC office (with coffee for the staff!) to reflect on the program and the lesson. What worked? What didn't? What adjustments needed to be made? She kept detailed record and copious notes, working with the utmost in professionalism and always keeping the students' best interests in mind. At the end of the ten weeks, Susan created a full curriculum and class rules so that the course could be repeated.
Susan led two more classes in 20018 and two in 2019. She also figured out how to do at least some of the class via Zoom in the midst of the COVID lock-down. The program met with such success that a neighboring town requested a similar program. Four tutors who Susan trained were able to take Susan's curriculum to this new town.
The number of beginner-level students LVSC is reaching in under-served communities has expanded exponentially. When Susan started, 35% of LVSC's students came from these communities. Today the percentage has grown to 50%.
Student feedback also demonstrates Susan's effectiveness as a teacher. Here is some feedback from students: "She was really friendly and had patience with us." "I liked being here on Saturdays because I learned many new things." "Thank you for helping us to continue learning."
Susan embodies the qualities of Teacher of the Year: she is a skilled teacher, kind mentor, treasured volunteer, and ideal role model who is generous with her time and talent.