INA, Ill. - Christina Hutcheson is one of 15 adult education program administrators across the state to be selected for the new Leadership Excellence Academy through the partnership of the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the National Adult Education Professional Development Consortium (NAEPDC). Hutcheson is the director of Rend Lake College's Adult Education and Family Literacy program.
Hutcheson has been at RLC since 2008. She applied for the LEA in late October, one of more than 30 applicants for only 15 seats. She is one of only two selectees from Southern Illinois - Region IV - which includes 20 members consisting of colleges to regional offices of education, secondary school districts and the Illinois Department of Corrections. The other downstate representative is Vicki Hinkle from Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey.
Hutcheson is considering the pursuit of her doctorate and she applied because it was an opportunity for not only program improvement but professional development as well.
"We want to make our program all that it can be and I think the Academy has the potential to be an avenue that helps us get there."
The Leadership Academy is designed to help build the skills of Illinois Adult Education Administrators through professional development activities based upon a foundation of research, theory, professional wisdom and practices.
She has already been given her first homework assignment, due at the first meeting on Monday. It's one of three face-to-face workshops she'll attend in the first of her two-year commitment. Over that time, Hutcheson will train on at least six topics identified by the LEA. Those include assessment, research, using data, strategies for motivation and retention, leadership approaches and working with instructors.
Her "homework" for the first year will involve three training modules targeted at assessing strengths, identifying needs and following through on program improvements. According to the LEA, with the enactment of the 1998 Workforce Investment Act (WIA), adult education shifted from a regulatory program to a continuous improvement program. RLC's program has always met its requirements, Hutcheson pointed out.
One thing she would like to learn during her time in the LEA is how to reach more adults in a rural area like RLC's district, she said. RLC's Adult Education and Family Literacy program is a comprehensive educational program that offers Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Educational Development (GED), English as a Second Language (ESL), Job Skills, and Parenting. The program serves students 16 years and older who are not enrolled in high school and who lack basic math and reading skills. All Adult Education and Family Literacy classes are offered free of charge to eligible adult students.
"I'm very excited about participating in the Leadership Excellence Academy and discovering how it can help our program better serve those who need us in this area," she said. "These hard economic times are pushing those without a high school diploma or GED into further economic poverty and hardship."