Emily Hartzler | President
Emily Hartzler began working with the Aspire program at Wayne County Schools Career Center in 2010. She has been the Adult Literacy Coordinator for the past eight years and was previously an ESOL Instructor. She has a BS in Journalism and Mass Communication, a Trinity CertTESOL, and a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction-TESOL. As an OAACE Board Member, she enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues throughout the state. She enjoys reading, exploring nature, and going on adventures with family and friends.
Dr. Carmine Stewart | President-Elect
Vice President, Programming | Seeds of Literacy
Dr. Carmine Stewart’s name is practically synonymous with adult education. After observing the state of teacher preparation and professional development in adult literacy in 2006, and judging it to be inadequate preparation for the educators of adults with low literacy levels, she began pursuing a Ph.D. in Urban Education from Cleveland State University, with the hope of improving the field. Carmine earned her doctorate in August 2012, after defending her dissertation, “Teacher Preparation and Professional Development in Adult Literacy Education.”
Carmine has worked with adults of varying abilities throughout her career as:
- director of student life at Notre Dame College
- professor at Cleveland State University
- facilitator and instructor for professional development workshops and symposiums that include Ohio Association of Adult and Continuing Education in Columbus; American Association of Adult and Continuing Education in Las Vegas; American Educational Research Association in New Orleans; Florida Literacy Coalition in Orlando; and the Conference on Adult Literacy in Houston
- ABLE Program Coordinator at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, where she prepared state grant applications and grant proposals to private foundations; administered the Adult Basic Literacy Education Program; and was a member of state task forces on literacy, advocacy and transitions to postsecondary education
Currently, she maintains dual roles as:
- President & CEO of Aspire Consulting and Educational Services, conducting research, evaluation, assessment, data analysis and professional development training for school districts and adult literacy agencies
- Vice President of Programming for Seeds of Literacy, overseeing the development of workforce development partnerships, the creation and launch of the Beginning & Struggling Readers program, professional development of tutors, and the GED in Spanish initiative. She is also a member of the Executive Leadership team and an active participant on various committees with the Board of Directors.
Considered an expert in her field, she maintains an active speaking schedule with The Literacy Cooperative (Cleveland), ALLEN (Cleveland), COABE, OAACE, and ProLiteracy, presenting on a variety of topics ranging from implicit bias, diversity and equity, teaching low-level adult readers, and best practices for tutoring.
Carmine is an extraordinary problem-solver, helping students at Seeds both personally and professionally. She painstakingly researches best practices in adult education to ensure accuracy, and continually searches for ways that students receive what they need in comfortable and compassionate ways. At Seeds, she launched the Beginning Reader program (for adults below the 4th grade level), revamped tutor training, and piloted the Latino Expansion to serve Spanish-speaking students who need their GED. She has committed to developing workforce partnerships to assist graduates with the transition out of Seeds.
Compassion, commitment, creativity. Carmine Stewart’s passion for her profession knows no bounds. “Carmine is a natural-born teacher,” says Bonnie Entler, Seeds President & CEO. “She has unique skills not every teacher has, including a phenomenal knowledge of adult education, which is very uncommon.”
In the city of Cleveland, 66 percent of adult residents are functionally illiterate with reading and math skills are at or below a fourth-grade level. The activities of daily life most of us take for granted — whether it’s reading a street sign or completing a job application — are challenges that seem insurmountable. Additionally, 88 percent of Seeds students live at or below the federal poverty level.
“It’s hard to imagine the anxieties our students deal with,” Bonnie says. “They had the courage to reach out to us, and Carmine helps us make sure we’re treating them with the respect they need and deserve.”
“Carmine has a talent for developing material relevant to adult learners,” Bonnie continues. “She helps students understand how to move forward in ways that don’t embarrass them and gives them the confidence to continue.”
As she’s done for almost two decades, Carmine will never miss an opportunity to spread the word about adult literacy being the foundation of workforce development and community growth, whether speaking locally to our board members, civic groups and philanthropic organizations or at national conferences that include those presented by COABE and ProLiteracy. Like President Bonnie Entler, her ultimate goal is to put Seeds of Literacy out of business through the eradication of adult illiteracy. In the meantime, she wants to see the Seeds model implemented world-wide and become a household name.
Salome Harris | Vice President
Salome Harris is a mother of two and has been a career educator since 1999.
In 2013, she began working with adult students in the Tri-C ABLE program as an instructor. Salome transitioned to program manager for the Tri-C Ohio Options program in 2014. For the last 10 years she has been working on the east side of Cuyahoga County to provide adult education programming to many different communities including schools, community centers, churches, and workplace employers.
Salome is passionate about serving our community and reaching adults who need to build academic and life skills to move forward. Salome had the pleasure of being a 2021 SAAEF Fellow- State Advocate for Adult Education Fellowship, it is a great opportunity to help support the adult education field of professionals and students. Over the last 2 years it has been a pleasure to serve in the Ohio Association of Adult and Continuing Education (OAACE). Families and generations can be changed as we provide educational and work opportunities for our community.
Salome graduated from Malone University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Nursing Degree and is currently completing a Master of Education degree at Tiffin University.
Bonnie Entler | Treasurer
President & CEO | Seeds of Literacy
Bonnie Entler has been an adult educator for nearly 20 years. She joined Seeds of Literacy in 2003 when the organization was a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 2005, she oversaw the transition to a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit.
CONTRIBUTIONS AS AN ADULT EDUCATION ADMINISTRATOR
Bonnie has cultivated an innovative, award-winning adult literacy program from a grassroots beginning to national accreditation and recognition. She has overseen the growth of Seeds from serving 100 students to 1,000 annually, making Seeds larger than the average high school. She was instrumental in preparing for the 2014 GED, work that outpaced peer agencies state-wide and nationally. In 2020, she launched a Virtual Classroom to continue offering services during the pandemic.
She is responsible for all operations of the organization and serves as the key staff liaison to the 20-member Board of Directors, 20+ full & part-time employees, and more than 300 volunteers. This includes the oversight of core programs and services, human resources, fundraising, finance, community relations, strategic planning, and building operations.
DEMONSTRATED LEADERSHIP IN ADVOCACY
In 2018, the State of Ohio removed its funding from Seeds of Literacy without warning, a loss of 14% of the nonprofit’s income. The move was especially puzzling as there is a crucial need for adult education programs – according to a study by Case Western Reserve University, nearly 66% of adults in Cleveland are functionally illiterate.
Bonnie refused to allow Seeds students to feel any effects of the cuts and continued to provide the programing its students expected. She began lobbying local, state and federal lawmakers to educate them on the critical need for services such as those provided by Seeds and enlisted staff and volunteer supporters to advocate on Seeds’ behalf.
eeds of Literacy representatives provided testimony to the Ohio Higher Department of Education Finance Committee in May 2019. The organization hosted numerous elected officials for classroom visits including State Senators Sandra Williams, Nickie Antonio, Matt Dolan, and John Elkund; and State Representatives Stephanie Howse, Bride Rose Sweeny, Michael Skindel, Terrance Upchurch, and Kent Smith. In addition, Seeds honored Rob Frost, father of Ohio GOP Chairman Robert Frost, in October 2019 for his assistance with the advocacy. Dolan, Elkund, and State Rep. Tom Patton attended the event.
SUCCESSES AND RESULTS OF EFFORTS
Bonnie’s tireless commitment to the students at Seeds has resulted in the only one-to-one tutoring adult literacy program nationally accredited by ProLiteracy in Ohio.
Her advocacy efforts resulted in the State returning funding to Seeds. This initiative caught the attention of local leaders, all of whom joined the dynamic Seeds of Literacy Board of Directors.
As a result of the Virtual Classroom (born of the 2020 pandemic), Seeds now serves students in 24+ states. Local Seeds’ students didn’t experience a lapse in services, even when the pandemic shut down all other adult literacy agencies. And, most exciting, the program has gone global, with tutors and students logging into the Virtual Classroom in Bangladesh, South Africa, Korea, Germany, and more.
During our first year of entirely online operations, we had a record-number of graduates, including 20 who found us, enrolled, studied, and graduated without ever stepping foot in our classroom. Details here.
- 2021 ProLiteracy Award for Program Innovation and Collaboration
- 2021 ProLiteracy – Ruth J. Colvin & Frank Laubach Award for Adult Learner Excellence – graduate Desire Barb
- 2020 COABE Local Excellence in Advocacy
- 2019 Crains Women in Education
- 2018 Leadership Class of Cleveland
- 2016 Philanthropy Tank Winner, Runner Up: African-American Philanthropy Summit
- 2016 COABE Administrator of the Year Runner Up
Marquita Mitchell | Treasurer-Elect
Marquita Mitchell has more than 19 years of experience in adult basic education.
Ms. Mitchell served as Project Learn’s program director for 12 years. In this role, she provided instructional support and management for Project Learn’s program components and served on various community projects involving adult education.
She also served as a program manager with the Ohio Department of Higher Education in Columbus for 3.5 years. In this role, she worked with Aspire programs across the state to ensure program compliance and provided technical assistance and support to programs.
Ms. Mitchell returned to Project Learn in 2017 as Executive Director to continue her passion for helping adults succeed through education and beyond.
Ms. Mitchell is a Leadership Akron Class 36 graduate and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Ms. Mitchell serves on the boards of Athena Akron, Judge David Hamilton’s COMPASS program, Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates, CBCF Facility Governing Board, and the Joy Park Neighborhood Federation. Ms. Mitchell also serves as trustee and financial secretary for New Hope Baptist Church. Ms. Mitchell enjoys spending time with family, volunteering in the community, and refining her golf skills at TopGolf.
Sarah Quick | Secretary
I have been with the Aspire program since 2011.
I was a teacher in the Kettering ABLE program for 5 years where I taught ABE/ASE and ESOL. In 2016, I became the Director of the Aspire program at Upper Valley Career Center.
I also have experience teaching in corrections and teaching at the college level.
Before working in adult and literacy education, I worked as a Social Studies teacher and reading teacher. Outside of work, I live with my husband, Josh; my daughter, Lucy; and my dog, Bernie.
Adrienne Boggs | Past-President
Adrienne Boggs is a program manager at The Ohio State University, Center on Education and Training for Employment (CETE) with more than 15 years of experience in adult education. While a significant portion of her time is dedicated to work on the Aspire adult education project, having been at the center since 2005, she has had the opportunity to work on a number of different projects whose audience was primarily those in adult education or career technical education. Much of the work included program administration, standards development, alignments, assessment development, evaluation and program design, and occupational analysis.
Wenona Pryor-Williams | Northwest Ohio Regional Director
Wenona Pryor-Williams is the Office Manager for the Aspire program at Owens Community College. In her eleven years with Aspire, Wenona has been a Classroom Specialist and Orientation Leader. In her current role, Mrs. Pryor-Williams maintains office services by organizing office operations and procedures, trains new staff, and analyzes, presents and reports program data. Using a culturally responsive lens, she is currently creating new motivational strategies to assist with student persistence.
For the last 15 years, Wenona has used her organizational and speaking skills to support community initiatives in social justice and educational empowerment throughout Northwest Ohio. Her passion is identifying mental health issues within the adult education population. She has several certifications including a Mental Health First Aid Trainer certification.
Mrs. Williams is honored to represent the Ohio Association of Adult and Continuing Education as the Northwest Ohio Regional Director.
Elissa Bates | Southwest Regional Director
Hi, I’m Elissa Bates! This is my second term serving as OAACE’s Southwest Regional Director.
I have worked in adult education for 20 years. I began as support staff at Cincinnati Public Schools ABLE and over the years continued to grow in my role.
I am now the Aspire program coordinator and 22+ program manager. My passion is supporting adult education professionals who are creating opportunities for adult students to achieve their academic goals.
Paula Baumgardner | Southeast Ohio Representative
Paula Baumgardner is the Director of the South Central Ohio ESC-ASPIRE program located in Scioto County, Ohio. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Paula has been an educator for 28 years, 10 of which are in adult education. She finds adult education a very rewarding career. She is passionate about helping students achieve their goals. In addition to being the Director, Paula is one of the Regional Directors of OAACE, serving the Central/Southeast regions. She also serves on the Workforce Development Board Area 1. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and friends, and taking vacations to the beach.
Tessa Torowski | North East Ohio Representative
Hello from the North East!
I serve as Chief Learning Officer for Project Learn of Summit County where I assist in oversight of instruction and operations for our agency’s various class locations. I have worked in adult education for almost fifteen years, drawing on my experience as a middle school science and math educator to bring a variety of teaching and learning strategies to adult education.
I love to solve problems, anything from untangling a knot of cords to programmatic evaluations. I also love data and digging around in LACES.
In my spare time, I enjoy the local food scene of my region, outdoor sports and exploring the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
I’m looking forward to presenting at conference this year. Look for my presentations about hiring practices and using free digital software to make your print and other media represent the awesomeness of your program.
Christina Miller | Transitions Director
I’m from Salem, Ohio. Becoming an adult education instructor and program administrator is not what I had planned on doing with my life (I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Kent State University and had planned on getting into research of some sort), but joining the Aspire (then ABLE) program has been one of the happiest “accidents” of my life!
I started teaching at Columbiana County Career and Technical Center in 2007, and then my program merged with Eastern Gateway Community College’s in 2019. I love working with students and enjoy times when I get to escape administrative work to go into the classroom. Math and science are my favorite subjects to teach.
I had the honor of being elected to the OAACE Board in 2018 as the Northeast Regional Director, and then held the Vice President and President positions. I am currently the Transitions Director. The lessons I learned at OAACE conferences, both as a new instructor and now as an experienced instructor and administrator, have been so valuable, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to help those in our field through our organization’s work.
In my spare time, I love to read, wander nature trails, and do various crafts, including crocheting stuffed animals. I have a ten-year-old nephew who is the light of my life.
Erika Simmons | Special Needs Director
Erika Simmons is an educator and innovator at the Academy for Urban Scholars (AUS) with a focus on supporting student journeys toward graduation. In addition, Erika creates curriculum for educators and students. Most recently, the STEM curriculum has been focused on Aerospace and Renewable Energies.
She attended The Ohio State University for undergrad, the University of Phoenix for grad school, and the University of California, Dominguez Hills for STEM education certifications. Her background is in Special Education with an emphasis on underrepresented students who are particularly prone to behavioral challenges, homelessness, and gang violence.
Erika Simmons was born and raised in the same neighborhood as several of her students. The reason that could describe the “why” Erika is invested in education is that she can relate to underserved students and their survival mindset.
Erika’s story and connection to students may be referred to as a “full circle moment.” She would like to continue to help change the lives of generations to come!
Derek Saylor | Corrections
Derek Saylor has a master’s degree in Composition and Rhetoric from The University of Akron. He began his work in Aspire in 2014 as an instructor, served as technology point person, worked as lead teacher, and is currently Aspire Coordinator for Aspire of Stark County at Canton City Schools.
Denise Friend | Community-Based Organizations Director
I am excited to be your community-based organizations director this year. I have worked in adult education for 25 years and have worn many hats.
I originally come from an ESOL background which I taught for 23 years. Some of the hats I have worn include teacher, coordinator, career pathways advisor, and adult education supervisor. I have worked with Aspire Greater Cleveland at the Cuyahoga County Public Library for over 3 years in my current role and oversee our data, orientations, professional development, and Pearson Vue testing center.
I look forward to connecting with other Ohio community-based programs to find out what sets you apart, what is working, and what challenges you may have. Please let me know how I may be a resource for you this program year.
It is my plan to investigate additional nationwide community-based adult education programs to see what we can learn from them. Let’s make it a great FY23!
Timothy Bailey | ESOL Special-Interest Director
I have been the ESOL Coordinator for Project Learn of Summit County since June 2018.
Additionally, I usually teach an ESOL class with Tri-C at one of their various campuses each semester.
Prior to this position, I taught English at a university in Nanchang, China for two and a half years. It was there that I met my wife Lu who was a liaison between the university and the foreign teachers. Prior to this, I taught English in a hagwon (private language school) in Chuncheon, South Korea for two years.
I have a BA in English, a TEFL certificate, and an MA in TESOL. My areas of interest tend to be vocabulary acquisition, curriculum development, and cultural engagement. Additionally, I am interested in areas of research devoted exclusively to adult ESOL education as this is a greatly underrepresented field. In particular, I am interested in how we can maximize student time with English when class time is limited and homework is usually a no-go, and also how can we better ensure retention when the traditional methods used, grades and financial investment, are not used.
I’m excited to be the ESOL Special-Interest Director and value any input or suggestions anyone might have.
I have been the Adult Education/ Aspire Director at the Pike County Career Technology Center since January 2001.
My wonderful wife Kristy and I have been married for 23 years. We have two daughters; the oldest is a freshman at Miami (OH) University and the youngest is in 8th grade at Piketon Jr. High.