ACE 2018 confernce crop

2018 ACE Annual Conference
September 24-26, 2018

Hosted at Naples Grande, Naples, Florida

Registration for the 2018 ACE Conference is now open!

You may register one of two ways:

Print out and complete the Conference Registration Form and fax or email back to the ACE office;


Register ONLINE.

Full Conference Registration for ACE Members – $450

Full Conference Registration for Non-ACE Member – $525

One Day Registrations Available and prices vary by day.  Please see the Conference Registration Form for more information, or call the ACE office, (850) 222-2233.

Registration for the 2018 ACE Conference is now open!

You may register one of two ways:

Print out and complete the Conference Registration Form and fax or email back to the ACE office;


Register ONLINE.

Full Conference Registration for ACE Members – $450

Full Conference Registration for Non-ACE Member – $525

One Day Registrations Available and prices vary by day.  Please see the Conference Registration Form for more information, or call the ACE office, (850) 222-2233.

Hotel Information

Naples Grande
475 Seagate Drive
Naples, Florida  34103

Hotel Rates:  $159.00 Single/Double

Online Reservations:

Deadline:  August 22, 2018

Conference hotel information is also located in the Exhibitor Packet.  Room rates at the Naples Grande are $159.00 for single or double.  You may make your room reservations by using the online reservation link.  Please pay special attention to the Naples Grande Shipping Guidelines and Information included in the exhibitor packet. Packages should arrive at the hotel no more than 3 days prior to your arrival; if your packages arrive earlier than the 3-day guideline there will be a $3 per item per day, all charges will be billed directly to the exhibitor.


Mark your calendar for September 24-26 and plan to exhibit at the 28th Annual ACE Conference at the Naples Grande located in Naples, Florida.  This year’s theme is “Empowering the Workforce through Adult Education.”

We are anticipating 500+ adult teachers, administrators and volunteers from around the state to attend this annual face-to-face professional development event.  Another exciting, fun and information-packed conference is being planned and the exhibitors are a big part of making the ACE Conference a success.  Exhibitors add another layer of opportunity for conference attendees to share and learn new ideas and practices in adult education.

Help drive conference attendees to your booth and let your brand shine by sponsoring an event at the conference.  There are also many opportunities to sponsor an event or place an ad in the Conference Program Book.  Check out all opportunities listed in the attached Exhibitor Packet.  We hope you will consider sponsoring an event!

The deadline for submitting your Exhibitor Application is August 31st.  Exhibits will be open Monday, September 24th through Tuesday, September 25th.  Requests for electricity for your exhibit space will be purchased directly through PSAV. There will be free wireless internet service in the exhibit area but can sometimes be slow.  ACE recommends using your company air card for internet service at your booth if you need to demonstrate any software or products.  If you require hardwire internet at your booth, please complete attached PSAV form.

We are excited to have you speak at the 2018 conference. Please complete the form below to be considered for our agenda. The deadline for submissions is August 24, 2018.

ACE is now accepting nominations in 7 categories to recognize those in the adult education field who go above and beyond to serve and support adult education students and programs.  The winners will be awarded the Golden Apple at the ACE Conference Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, September 26th.  If you would like to nominate someone, please download the ACE Achievement Awards Packet, complete the application forms and email to the ACE office.  Deadline for nominations is August 17th.

We are looking for student success stories to share at the 2018 ACE Conference Opening Session!   ACE of Florida and the Florida Department of Education, Division of Career and Adult Education will be recognizing one to two adult education students who have reached their life goals as a result of their participation in the adult education system and are now active in their communities.

Student nominees can be current or former students.

The student success stories recognition will take place at the ACE Conference Opening Session, Monday, September 24th, at the Naples Grande in Naples. If your nominee is selected to be showcased at the ACE Conference, ACE will pay travel and one night hotel expenses for the student to attend the Monday morning Opening Session.

Please take the time to nominate and share your student success stories. The Student Success nomination packet is attached here.

Be sure to get the student permission slip signed giving permission to share their story.

What better way to showcase the wonderful outcomes of adult education in Florida! The deadline to submit a success story is August 17th.

If you have any questions regarding the success story packet, please contact Julie Roberts at the ACE office, or (850) 222-2233.

ACE Conferences

Keynote: Jonathan Edison

Get excited for the keynote speaker, “Success Strategist” Jonathan Edison! He is one of the most compelling thought leaders and Motivational Business Speakers today. As an expert in human development he delivers strategies, methods and tools filled with insight and humor that consistently move people and their organizations to their highest potential. His personal motto is “Results don’t lie, people do!” 

Growing up in an environment that was a prescription for failure, young John John – his grandmother’s affectionate nickname for him – faced many hardships. After exposing him to drugs and violence, his mother was removed from the household by the Department of Social Services when he was five years old. Just two years later, Johnathan’s father left to start a new family on the other side of townleaving his grandmother Cloraine to raise him. She unfortunately died of cancer when Johnathan was just 14 years old. Instead of becoming another statistic, Johnathan found the courage he needed within himself to rise above adversity. He enrolled in community college, graduated with an associate’s degree as part of the Urban Teacher Program and later earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. After teaching for four years, he became the youngest assistant principal in the history of Detroit Public schools at the age of 27. In 2004 he was faced with more adversity when he was fired with no plan or clients in place. This is when he launched Edison Speaks International, a motivational and training development company that has brought him around the US and to the ACE Conference this year.

The line-up of concurrent sessions at this year’s conference was outstanding!  Thank you to our presenters who took the time and effort to prepare the informative, interesting and hands-on sessions for the conference.  The presenters are the heart and soul of the conference, and the main reason for having this event is to offer professional development and training to the participants.  Conference attendees were not disappointed this year!

I would like to recognize our ACE Conference sponsors for their generous support.  It’s their sponsorships that enable us to provide the extras that make a big difference in your conference experience!

Gold Sponsor – Grand Opening of Exhibits and Sunshine Success Stories

English Discoveries – Stewart Holtz, Jill Rosolek and Christina Piland

Gold Sponsor – President’s Reception

Paxen Publishing – Deanna Crosson, Richard Semancik and Chris Miller


Silver Sponsor – Conference Bags

Burlington English – Kimberly Bartholomew, Lauren Abraham, Didier Brunot and Vicky Denkus

Silver Sponsor – Ice Cream Social

Aztec Software – Adriane Fajnor and Mike Widra

Silver Sponsor – Monday Afternoon Break

Focus School Software – Shannon Hutchinson and Kiffani Irby


We owe a huge thank you to ACE President and Conference Chair Maria Miranda for her leadership and vision for this year’s conference.  The ACE Board of Directors was an integral part of the planning and running of the ‘behind the scenes’ activities.  They were also responsible for donating those outstanding raffle baskets!  I would also like to thank the ACE staff, Leigh Ann Clark and Ashley Olevitch.  Your hard work, positive attitude and attention to detail makes the ACE Conference run smoothly.  I could not do it without each of you!

ACE will soon be emailing information on upcoming professional development workshops in your area.  Topics include ESOL and EL-Civics, adults with learning disabilities, and part-time teacher academies.  The Best Practices Round-up is tentatively scheduled for February back at the Westgate River Ranch.  The Summer Symposium is scheduled for June 9-11, 2019 at the Wyndham Grand Jupiter Harbourside.

Mark your calendar now for the 29th Annual ACE Conference scheduled for October 2-4, 2019 at the Hilton West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Convention Center.  We’ve already begun making plans and will be sending out call for proposals after the first of the year!

Continue visiting the ACE website,, for updates.  Feel free to contact the ACE office with any questions.  Thank you so much for your support!

2019 holds both opportunities and challenges.  We will be working with a host of new legislators and a new Governor. ACE of Florida continues to move forward with new membership options, the ACE Champions (about which you will hear more in the coming weeks), our Spring Round-up and an exciting new location for the Summer Symposium.  It promises to be an exciting finish to 2018 and a great start to 2019.

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to reflect on our colleagues in the panhandle who are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.  Most of us around the state know what it’s like, at one point or another during our time in Florida, to experience a natural disaster.  Our thoughts and prayers for recovery continue to go out to those most impacted by the storm.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful Winter Holiday Break and that you return to work re-energized for 2019.

I appreciate all you do for ACE, for adult education, and for your adult education students.


Best Holiday Wishes,

Maria Miranda

Conference Materials and Presentations

Developing English Learners’ Vocabulary with a Thousand Pictures’ Worth of Words – Jayme Adelson-Goldstein

Dream Big and Plan Accordingly: How MyCareerShines Empowers Career Planners to Achieve Education and Career Goals – Katie Harrington

Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom – Lionel L’Esperance

Employment Data & WIOA Accountability – Tara McLarnon & Kendra Jahnke

Empowering Adult Students to Take Advantage of their Learning – Carlin Fritz

Figuring It Out: Embracing Mathematical Thinking in the ESOL Class – Jayme Adelson-Goldstein

FLDOE Adult Education Program Resources for New Administrators – Marcia Maxwell

Florida 2030 – Dr. Jerry Parrish

Introduction to Higher Order Algebra for Level 1 and 2 Students – Ronald Cruz 

Leadership Approach to Program management – Guadalupe Ruvalcaba

Learning Disabilities and Other Special Learning Needs: Definitions – Issues – Solutions – Dr. Neil Sturomski

Let’s Talk the Math Talk! – PowerPoint – Brian Heisler and Daisy Shah

Let’s Talk the Math Talk! – Resources – Brian Heisler and Daisy Shah

Metacognitive Skills: Supporting Students in the Further Development and The Use of Higher Order Thinking Skills for Education, Work and Everyday Life – Dr. Neil Sturomski

School District Workforce Funding – Tara Goodman

Seeing Adult Education through an Alternative Lens – Wylie Howard Jr. & Kara Woodard-Davis

The Changing Landscape of Immigration in the United States and Its Impacts on Education – Indera Demine, Esq. 

Transitioning ABE to GED Level Skills in Mathematics – Ronald Cruz 

Tranquil Testing – Laura Ruiz & Sharon Webb

ACE Conference Pictures

ACE Conference Award Winners

Andrew Jenkins has served on the ACE of Florida Board of Directors for a decade, most recently serving as the first official, two-year president from 2015-2017. Andrew has accomplished many things for Adult Education and ACE of Florida including his leadership in guiding the organization as it facilitated the COABE National Conference in Orlando in the Spring of 2017. Andrew’s co-workers describe him as dependable, honest, and friendly. They say he is the most genuine person they know, and he always finds the good in people. A former ACE Board of Directors member stated, “I have met administrators all over the state of Florida. In the ten years, it has been my privilege to know Andrew, I have never met a more honorable, genuine, sincere, and caring administrator. Orange County, Florida, and ACE are all better off because of Andrew and his leadership. Andrew’s boss wrote that “Andrew and I started our administrative careers together as high school assistant principals in 1994. Working side-by-side for 5 years, it was evident even then that Drew had a heart for students…..all students. That passion has only grown over the year and as fate would have it, I have been honored to work side-by-side with him again these past 5 years in Adult Education.  It is a privilege to see a real educator work hard every day with even more enthusiasm for students then he had back in 1994.” We could never say or do enough to show Andrew how much he has done it was an honor to recognize him at the 2018 Conference as a Hall of Fame inductee.

Jeff Arnott, is a virtual “Energizer Bunny” when it comes to the Adult Ed programs he is responsible for and for ACE of Florida. Jeff is described as innovative, a salesman, a promoter, a teacher, a caring administrator and someone who lives and breathes adult education 24/7. A Florida superintendent described him as “a passionate, energetic leader who strives to serve students of all ages and from all walks of life. He has dedicated his career to helping the underserved achieve their fullest potential through the power of education. He is a relentless advocate for both young people and adults.” There is no one more passionate and who promotes adult education more than Jeff, in fact, he is the first person in the 25-year history of ACE of Florida to represent Florida and the southeastern United States on the COABE National Board. It was an honor and privilege for Maria to recognize Jeff as the 2018 recipient of the ACE of Florida President’s Award.

Rochel Abrams was the 2018 recipient of the John E. Lawrence Administrator of the Year Award. She is described as an amazing administrator and great leader for Leon County Adult & Community Education.

Rochel always goes above and beyond her call of duty when it comes to her teachers. Those around her say they couldn’t have asked for a better leader. Rochel leads by example and has earned the respect from many in the district. Rochel is always willing to help out when needed and will make sure you have all the resources, training and materials you will need to teach a lesson. She has provided training, and even one on one training, to make sure you feel comfortable teaching the material to the students. She will make sure teachers have all the supplies necessary to teach our population of students and she rarely says “NO”.

Rochel has a unique way of getting you to love your worst subject. Rochel loves math and has an enthusiastic way to get you to teach it. She takes Algebra courses for fun. Rochel knows the struggle our students deal with intellectually and the problems they have outside of class. She takes the time to get to know our teachers and our students on a personal level. Rochel helps students out with outside resources when they are struggling financially, emotionally and physically. She lives and breathes adult education.

Rochel has always been a person you can count on for the long days of teaching to build your spirits up again. She knows personally how difficult teaching can be and has not lost that knowledge while performing administrative duties. She is a servant administrator. She really is there to make others jobs easier and more rewarding. Rochel has the knowledge of all aspects of adult education and the ever-changing legislation that effects adult education jobs. She helps the teachers accept change and finds new and innovative ways to implement the changes. She looks out for her teachers and stands up for what is right for teachers and students alike.

For 27 years Rochel has worked with ABE and GED students through Leon County’s Adult and Community Education School. She has been an administrator for the last 15 years as both a project manager and assistant principal. Her years of teaching have helped her to be an effective recruiter, trainer, and support to her teachers. She currently supervisors more than 20 full and part-time GED teachers in ten locations and online. Last year she was the direct administrator for 1,268 ABE and GED students.

Rochel never just goes home because it is time, but is devoted to finishing whatever needs to be done for her teachers and students. Her devotion inspires all of those who work with her and is matched by her willingness to drop her own task at any point to help the rest of us with questions. She is a data guru, at one time she was the GED chief examiner for Leon County. More importantly, her desire to get things right is for her students. She cares deeply that the ABE and GED students, who have most often had difficult educational experiences before getting to ACE-Leon, are treated with dignity and shown concern and encouragement in our classes.

Anita Crews, CEO of Country Financial Credit Union was the 2018 recipient of the Business Supporter of the Year. Under her leadership, Country Financial Credit Union in Macclenny, FL responded to the community’s needs annually through a unique financial commitment since 2015. This response has helped Adult Education in Baker County reach students in low-income outlying areas in life-changing ways. In 2015, Ann Watts, director of Career and Adult Education in Baker County, reached out to Anita about an empty credit union building located in Sanderson, FL, an extremely low-income area within Baker County. Ann’s intent was to ask how much the monthly lease would be if the school district were to rent it for adult education classes. Once she explained the services that Baker County Adult Education Center provides for the community, without hesitation Anita agreed to advocate to the Credit Union Board to not only provide full use of the building but also to cover utility and security costs that adult education classes could be held there. The Credit Union Board agreed, and a new partnership emerged. This financial donation is valued at approximately $30,000 annually for classroom space, $4,800 annually in utility and security services, and approximately $4,000 in building maintenance. Since this partnership emerged, Sanderson residents have had access to adult education classes and services where none were available in their immediate area. Sanderson, FL is an outlying area in Baker County with approximately 15% living below poverty levels. With Baker County having no formal public transit system, this donation has truly been impactful for Sanderson residents. One resident who is now enrolled in adult education is in his seventies and said, “having the Sanderson Center available has allowed me to return to school in my neighborhood and complete my education so that my grandchildren and great grandchildren will know the value of education at any age.” The Sanderson Center has opened doors for students to complete their Florida High School diploma, to complete high school graduation requirements for a standard diploma, to polish up their academic skills for employment, and to participate in individualized career planning services. Anita Crews is a Jacksonville, FL native and has been employed with Country Financial Credit Union for 26 years, beginning as a bank teller and working her way up through the ranks to managing the local Country Financial Credit Union. In addition to supporting adult education she has led other business to education collaborations in the Baker County School District including providing hands-on financial literacy events for students of all ages, supporting Baker County Education Foundation in student scholarship funds, and maintaining a business presence and involvement in school related events. Without her personal and professional advocacy support education, which requires an understanding of how education at ll levels improves any community, the establishment of the Sanderson Center for Adult Education and many great educational events would not likely happen.

Pamela Jo Wilson, Adult Education Center of palm beach County, was the 2018 recipient of the Instructional Support Staff of the Year. Ms. Wilson exemplifies respectful and relevant instructional support in an age where adult instructors are in dire need of informed and consistent assistance as they navigate the standards, curriculum, testing, and contextualization requirements of 21st Century instruction. She is known throughout her district as someone who promotes positive relationships between her program and other programs in Florida, between her program and the community, and most especially within her program. Ms. Wilson worked for 16 months on the LINCS ESL pro project with a Pinellas County colleague, creating and coordinating the first cross-region ESOL PLC, she also created virtual PLCs to support teachers at sites throughout her program, and within her program she has created staff development projects that result in increased learner persistence, digital skills, and language proficiency. Her passion to support the instructional process is on display daily through her iTeach website – created to provide her teachers with a wealth of resources, document instructors’ and learners’ achievements, and help instructors keep track of professional development opportunities. As a national and state trainer, she gains a broad perspective of adult education inside and outside Florida and is able to bring relevant information to her staff as a result of her relationships with CASAS, Burlington, and LINCS. For the past 7 years, in her role as Senior Case Manager, ESOL Specialist with the School District of Palm Beach County, Department of Adult and Community Education, Pamela Jo Wilson has played a key role in her district’s annual conference, ensuring that speakers and sessions reflect the needs of instructors and following up on instructors’ needs based on their feedback after the conference. Ms. Wilson doesn’t just talk the talk – she continues to work in the classroom, thus giving her a realistic “take” on what it means to be an instructor in her program and allows her to make authentic and credible suggestions when she works with her district team-members to strategize how best to accomplish department deliverables. Ms. Wilson is a perfect example of always having a respectful and collaborative attitude when working with instructors. She has also displayed that same attitude with students, custodial staff, school administrators, FLDOE staff and ACE staff. Her default is positivity and that, along with her infectious laugh and warm heart, have a wonderful, motivating effect on those around her.

Math Talk, an online study tool for the math section of the GED exam, created by Brian Heisler was the recipient of the 2018 Media Promotion of the Year award. Brian, a moth expert, offers an online interactive math tutorial program for GED students through social media. This tool is geared towards individuals that are about to take the GED exam but others choose to learn and interact with Brian as well. This math celebrity has a fairly large fan base on various social media platforms and he goes above and beyond for his fans, also known as the Math talkers. Math Talk gives its fans the opportunity to indulge in math tutorials, gain expert tips and fresh ways to think. The Math Talk team also posts helpful tips and tricks on social media along with useful links and resources for the viewers. Additionally, the Department of Adult and Community Education of Palm Beach County has used Math talk as a promotional tool to market the local program offerings. It has been said that Math talk is a great resource for students who need additional assistance outside of the classroom to help them prepare for the GED test. Past students have created Math Talk with helping them pass the GED mat test

Rafik Jedaoui was the recipient of the 2018 Non-Instructional Support Staff of the Year. Mr. Jedaoui is a meticulous and authentic informal leader in the Atlantic Technical College Pre-College ESOL program. To say he “assists’ the program on many fronts does not truly represent his contributions. More accurately, at times he carries the program forward by anticipating, responding to, and solving problems before anyone else even realizes there is an issue. Mr. Jedaoui is not just a “jack of all trades,” he is also a master of many. In addition to his primary role as tech support across Atlantic Technical College’s three large campuses, Mr. Jedaoui has also been trained in CASAS and TABE testing, registration, and intake – much due to his taking initiative. Essentially, Mr. Jedaoui could do the work of four people it takes to register a student: he can test the student, place them in classes, register them in the student information system, serve as a student advisor, and manage any IT issues that may arise. But it is not just that Mr. Jedaoui can do these jobs, but he is always willing to serve wherever he is needed. There have been times that Mr. jedaoui is servicing a computer and sees an overcrowded office with students ready to register and he jumps on a computer and begins assisting with intake and registration. This alleviates stress on staff during high enrollment periods and demonstrates how he always puts the needs of the student first, ensuring that the students have a first class experience by reducing their wait time to register and see a counselor. Mr. Jedaoui is a consummate advocate for both the adult learner and the NEglish language learner. As a former English language learner himself, he understands the adult student experience in a unique way. He treats every student with kindness and respect, knowing that it can be a humbling experience to enroll in classes as an adult. As one of the first people the students see, Mr. Jedaoui welcomes each student with care and takes thoughtful time during their intake process to learn each individual student’s background. The time Mr. Jedaoui takes with the students is paramount in their learning journey. It highlights the student’s rich experiences they have had already as he begins to build a trusted relationship with the student. He recognizes adult students and English language learners come to the program with varying backgrounds and sometimes through great adversity and he always strives to make school a safe place for students to grow without judgement. As a colleague, Mr. Jedaoui is always professional and ready to help in any department or capacity but more notably he is warm and caring in all the special ways that make colleagues feel more like family. As a loving father to two young girls, he always makes time to ask others how their families are doing and spends a few quality minutes with anyone if he catches them down the hall or at the copy machine.  He goes above and beyond every day so that nobody ever has to worry about how technical or testing tasks will get done, and they can focus on their students. He finds his reward in the successes of the programs, teachers and students. While there will surely be many worthy nominations, I contend that it will be impossible to find someone that cares or does more for their programs.

Jennifer Harrington was the recipient of the 2018 Teacher of the Year award.  Jennifer is a problem-solver, an innovator, and a dynamic member of the Dixie Hollins Adult Education Center faculty.  She is the ABE/GED lead teacher and her specific program is located at Pinellas Hope; a homeless shelter.  Her enthusiasm, love, and passion for teaching and the students she teaches exemplifies the true definition of an adult educator. Jennifer simply teaches to inspire and impact all those she comes in contact with each day.  She has mastered the elusive art of being firm but fair, having rules yet building relationships, and keenly remembering that though she teaches numerous subjects and content areas, she is really teaching each of her students individually with acceptance and truly caring. While remaining current with the latest instructional strategies and technologies, Jennifer can still reach a troubled or struggling student with simple, yet profound, motherly instincts and empathy coupled with complete professionalism.  Likewise, she can accelerate and challenge her brightest of students because of professional development experiences and innovations she has pursued and mastered.  Jennifer has participated as a trainer at several ACE conferences. All of her students are deemed homeless and are temporary residents of Pinellas Hope.  Pinellas Hope’s goal is to provide its residents with the tools necessary to achieve self-sufficiency. GED classes are held at the shelter on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Resume writing, job skills and financial skills training are also offered throughout the year in her classroom. Jennifer has written and been awarded grants from the Pinellas Education Foundation, READ Pinellas and Achieva Credit Union.  Jennifer is the county certified TABE trainer.  With the implementation of TABE 11/12, she has worked tirelessly to ensure all of the CTAE staff are trained and up-to-date. Jennifer is constantly finding strategies and activities to enhance the process that leads to student success.  She willingly shares these strategies with her colleagues.  One of these activities include the “Escape Box”; an activity now used by many of her colleagues. Like the wise one who sits atop a mountain, inquisitive and sometimes frantic colleagues summon Jennifer’s wisdom often and they receive answers to each and every question quickly and accurately. She never turns away the increasingly-frequent request to shadow her classroom and even travels to other teachers’ domains to help put out fires and extinguish confusion.

Emily Holbrook, the recipient of the 2018 Volunteer of the Year award, is the most dynamic volunteer ever. She devotes so much of her time in service of the local refugees in Hillsborough County. She has been extremely instrumental to the success of the ESOL classes for Congolese at the University Area Community Center, the completion of the Oral History Project, and a few more refugee-centered research projects focusing on issues the refugee community faces. Those she works with are thankful to all that she does for their program and the students. Her enthusiasm and flexibility have been a generous gift to the teachers and students she works with. She eagerly jumps into lesson plans each week, she understands the culture and language as well as the difficulties the students face, so her compassionate approach to lesson delivery is refreshingly personal.