2019 Conference ACE Final logo

2019 ACE Annual Conference

October 2-4, 2019

Hilton West Palm Beach and the Palm Beach Convention Center

Keynote Speaker -
Andrés Ruzo
Andres Ruzo

Conference Materials and Presentations 

Conference Pictures

We are no longer accpeting submissions for conference presentations.

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 – $475

Full Conference Registration for Non-ACE Member – $550

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.


Mark your calendar for October 2-4 and plan to exhibit at the 29th Annual ACE Conference at the Hilton West Palm Beach and the Palm Beach County Convention Center located in West Palm Beach, Florida.  This year’s theme is “Discover Innovation and Ingenuity in 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 30.  Exhibits will be open Wednesday, October 2nd through Friday, October 4th.  Requests for electricity for your exhibit space will be purchased directly through the Convention Center. 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 forms.


Hotel Information

Hilton West Palm Beach

600 Okeechobee Blvd

West Palm Beach, FL 33401


Hotel Rates:  $159.00 Single/Double

Parking: Valet only at Hilton West Palm Beach $20 per day

Online Reservations:  https://book.passkey.com/e/49518065

Phone Reservations: 1-800-HILTONS and reference Group Code ZACE

Deadline:  August 30, 2019


*Should you need to prepay for rooms, please contact the hotel accounting department at accounting.wpb@hilton.com.*

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 Friday, October 4th.  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 has been extended to September 6th.

We are looking for student success stories to share at the 2019 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, Wednesday, October 2nd at the Hilton West Palm Beach and the Palm Beach Convention Center.

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 Wednesday morning Opening Session.

Please take the time to nominate and share your student success stories.

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 has been extended to September 6th.

If you have any questions regarding the success story packet, please contact Ashley Olevitch at the ACE office, ashley@aceofflorida.org or (850) 222-2233.

Draft Schedule

*All sessions are tentative and subject to change*

Preconference Sessions with descriptions

*Please follow the link to reserve your seat for a pre-confernce session*

*Change to the New Adult Education Administrators Meeting reflected in the draft schedule*

ACE Conferences

Keynote Speaker Sponsored by National Geographic Learning

Andrés Ruzo is a geothermal scientist, conservationist, educator, host, author, and science communicator best known for his work at the Boiling River of the Amazon. He holds degrees in Geology and Finance, and will soon finish his Ph.D. in Earth Sciences focusing on Geothermal Studies. Ruzo is a National Geographic Explorer and has been on multiple Society funded grants. He is the host of an award-winning NatGeo Latin America television show, Misterios del Inframundo (Mysteries of the Underworld). His work has been featured on various National Geographic Media outlets including the Magazine, television channels, website, social media, and other outlets, as well as branded partnerships with BMW, LEGO, and Coors Light. Ruzo grew up between Peru, Nicaragua and the United States, and is currently based between Miami, USA and Lima, Peru.

While doing research for a National Geographic Grant, Ruzo investigated a detail in a childhood legend he heard as a boy in Lima about mysterious “river that boiled” in the heart of the jungle. This legendary river proved to be real and in 2011, Ruzo became the first geoscientist granted the shamanic blessing to study it. Flowing hot for nearly four miles (over six kilometers), nearly 15 feet deep (about 4.5 meters) at its deepest point, and almost 100 feet wide (about 30 meters) at its widest point– the Boiling River is currently the world’s largest documented thermal river, even though it is over 430 miles (over 700 miles) away from the nearest active volcanic center.

Ruzo is the Founder and Director of the Boiling River Project, a nonprofit aimed at understanding, protecting, and bringing value to the Boiling River, the Amazon, and unique geothermal systems across the globe. Through the Boiling River Project he works to turn the Boiling River area into a mecca of scientific investigation and has played active roles in research from various fields of geoscience, botany, biology, microbiology, anthropology, linguistics, ethno-history, shamanism, conservation economics, wildlife trafficking, and sustainable tourism. He is also heavily involved in indigenous and local empowerment work is the Central Peruvian Amazon, through educational and sustainable economic initiatives.

Beyond his Amazonian work, Ruzo is also heavily involved with K-12 and university level education. He serves on boards a high school and university in Costa Rica, is a high-school level Student Independent Research Teacher at schools in the United States, and supports girl’s K-12 education initiatives through groups in Nicaragua and Peru.

To learn more, visit www.boilingriver.org.

In every field, there are those who surpass their peers through their vision of the future and their ability to mobilize their teams in shaping that future. The purpose of the ACE of Florida President’s Award is to recognize the contributions of leaders who demonstrate a clear vision of what adult education should be while developing a thoughtful strategy to achieve that vision. This award is presented annually to a person from education, government, or industry, who demonstrates exceptional and innovative leadership in support of adult and continuing education.


This year’s recipient is an innovative leader who sets high expectations of her team through her vision, provides the needed resources for success, and allows the team the freedom and ingenuity to execute that vision to reality. Dr. Debra Pace began her tenure as Superintendent of The School District of Osceola County 3.5 years ago. Through her leadership, she fosters the development of high quality programs that directly impact student performance. She models expectations and provides strong leadership focused on building relationships, raising expectations, and fostering a culture focused on student success, economic development, quality of life, and community pride.


At the state level, Dr. Pace is an advocate for adult education and supports ACE of Florida in its advocacy efforts. She is invested in adult education legislative initiatives, recognizing the value these initiatives bring to our local programs. She truly endorses and is an advocate for statewide adult education success.


At the local level, Dr. Pace’s support of the Adult Learning Center Osceola (ALCO) is equivalent to her focus on the larger, k12 system. Her dedication to ALCO students fulfilling their goals is evident through her support of our school and district administrators, our teachers, our students, and our business and community partners. She is keenly aware of our students’ needs and collaborates with community partners to ensure our students have every opportunity to achieve their goals successfully. She is dedicated to ensuring that our adult education programs have the right people at the helm to shape the program’s values and culture.


Dr. Pace is described by colleagues as a proactive, collaborative leader always seeking win-win situations while upholding the organization’s mission and vision as a top priority. She challenges those around her to pursue excellence.


Dr. Pace truly drives innovation, demonstrates and demands excellence in our adult education programs, and truly embraces our work. Her support of our adult education programs allows my colleagues and me to work swiftly to adjust and grow our programs to meet community needs and state demands. In Osceola County, we truly move at the speed of Pace!


Thank you, Dr. Pace for your support of adult education.

The purpose of the ACE of Florida Hall of Fame Award is to recognize and honor adult educators who have contributed in a significant way to the vision and mission of adult education. Hall of Fame recipients are teacher-leaders who have distinguished themselves through their dedication to and development of high quality educational programs, their service to students and community, and their outstanding contributions to our field as a whole.


This year’s recipient exemplifies the beliefs and ideals that we, as adult educators, hold in high esteem. As the Director of Florida Panhandle Technical College for the past 10 years, Martha Compton has a demonstrated history of building innovative programs that serve her students and community. In addition to her daily responsibilities at the Florida Panhandle Technical College, Martha balanced state-level leadership positions both as a Board of Director for ACE of Florida and President of FACTE along with membership on several local community boards including CareerSource Chipola, Washington County Tourist Development Council, and the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council. Her work in these areas has garnered multiple accolades including the Hollinnsworth CareerSource Chipola Board Member of the Year and the John E. Lawrence School Administrator of the Year.


While she advocates for adult education students throughout the state, Martha is a true champion of the small and rural districts. Her work with the Florida Department of Education’s Workforce Education Funding Committee has served to ensure that the state funding model supports an equitable distribution for our smaller communities. She is also an active legislative advocate who has worked hard to ensure our state-level legislators understand the importance of the work adult educators do daily to advance the economic development prospects of her region and the State of Florida as a whole. Mike Armbruster of Orange Technical College shared that he “absolutely respects Martha Compton! She is a force to be reckoned with, and an individual [who he] admires for her never ending advocacy to ensure adequate funding to meet the needs of students as they pursue their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families.”


On a personal note, I originally met Martha at my first ACE Conference in 2012 and was immediately impressed by her knowledge of adult education and inspired by her passion for her students, her community, and her colleagues throughout the state. Since that time, she has been a strong influence on my work. I am grateful for all the sage advice she has provided over the years. I look forward with great anticipation to the next chapter of her career.


Martha, we are grateful for your contributions to adult education.

ACE Conference Award Winners

Ronald Cruz,Hillsborough County Public Schools Workforce Division was selected as The John E. Lawrence Administrator of the Year at the 2019 ACE Conference. Ron’s greatest accomplishment is the exemplary performance of the program he oversees, the CARIBE Refugee Program. In fiscal year 2018, CARIBE has achieved a 64% completion rate and 52% Literacy Completion Point (LCP) rate from over 2,200 enrollments. This level of performance is typical with professional, respectful, efficient, safe and nurturing environment that he fosters for his team of educators, support staff and students. “Servant leadership” is what best describes his work and leadership style. He was instrumental to the expansion of the CARIBE Program despite shrinking budgets over the years. The most notable driver of his program’s performance are his teachers. They are well-supported through professional development, classroom observation and feedback, planning sessions and instructional resources. They especially enjoy the benefits of his skills as a trainer/facilitator. After observing his teachers, he provides thoughtful and meaningful feedback to help them improve their craft. He promotes healthy competition among teachers in maintaining high enrollment and completion rates. That is why his program has always delivered quality adult education services and surpassed its goals and deliverables, becoming a model for other institutions, counties and states. In FY 2018, his program surpassed its target deliverables by an average of over 42% in enrollments, intakes, assessments and instructional hours. He initiated several programs to increase refugees’ access to adult education and improve the quality of classroom instruction such as partnering with employers to open work-based schools for Cuban asylees, creating a Fast Track ESOL program to immediately get refugees licensed/certified or employed and spearheading the creation of a true Vocational ESOL curriculum. Through his efforts, Hillsborough County Public Schools was awarded with the USCIS Citizenship Grant, which he then used to supplement and expand his program. His dedication to refugees is beyond compare. He has bent over backwards to start a special school to serve the unique needs of the struggling Congolese refugees. He used his position and his network of partners to funnel essential social services and community support to help address issues such as bullying, unemployment, lack of available housing, discrimination, poor nutrition and hygiene. To spread awareness and advocate for refugees, he worked closely with the University of South Florida’s Anthropology Department to publish an oral history book entitled, “American Stories,” highlighting the success and journey of local refugees in Tampa. His work with refugees has earned his program and his partner organizations awards and recognitions such as the Exceptional Community Partner Award from USF College of Public Health for his program’s contribution to the Tampa Bay Gardens, a self-sustaining community garden for Burmese refugees. He has worked with the local school board to designate the month of September as Welcoming Month. He pushed for the City of Tampa to be the first Welcoming City in the state of Florida, with the overwhelming support and proclamation from the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners in 2017. During Ron’s spare time, he devotes his skills and expertise to developing and facilitating regional professional development workshops throughout the state. He has created several resources for the benefit of adult education teachers across the state such as the ABE Mathematics Matrix, resource activities, Grab and Go Videos, online training modules, lesson plans and webinars. His contributions to the adult education community even extends across the United States as he continues to serve as national facilitator, consultant and content developer for GED Testing Service and COABE. He has worked closely with the Florida Department of Education to advocate for the professional needs of adult educators and adult ESOL students.

Nabila Bouqlata, Broward County, is a Career Advisor in Office of Student Affairs for Atlantic Technical College working with Pre-College Academic Studies students. She has been in this role since January of 2015. She works with Adult General Education students to assist in helping them meet their educational goals while supporting them through their journey to next steps either at Atlantic Technical College in one of the career training programs and/or other postsecondary options. However, Nabila’s journey at Atlantic Technical College did not start there. Nabila came to us as a student in 2010. She had recently arrived in the United States after getting married, knowing very little English. She attended our ESOL program to gain English language skills. She built her skills and then decided to apply for an available position to support other adult students. Hiring Nabila made perfect sense. She had a passion for working with people and had experiences that fit the needs of the school. Prior to coming to the United States, Nabila had earned a bachelor’s degree in biology was working in a lab and had later taught math and French to elementary-aged students when it was difficult to find work as a biologist in her country of Morocco. Working with our students was a natural next step. From that point forward, we knew Nabila was a gem. She became a part-time teacher, a certified testing proctor and later a Career Advisor. When she sees a need, she finds a way to fill it. She seeks to find innovative solutions to enhance services that are provided to our students. She regularly launches student and teacher surveys to secure information that will help to decrease barriers to participation. She also decided to research and create an online advisement/counseling live chat feature on our website so that students and potential students could ask questions and/or gain information either while on campus or at home without having to step foot in the office. She monitors and conducts live sessions twice per week while maintaining a face-to-face large ase load. Ms. Bouqlata builds relationships with students that keep them coming back. We often find that when students first encounter Nabila, they are hesitant to see another counselor because of her caring nature and genuine support that she provides to all that she encounters. Ms. Bouqlata is consummate advocate for students. As a former English language learner herself, she understands the adult student experience in a unique way. She treats everyone with kindness and respect, knowing that it can be a humbling experience to enroll in classes as an adult and pursue their educational goals. As one of the first people our students see, Nabila welcomes each student with care and takes thoughtful time during the intake process to learn each individual student’s background. She continues to build relationships, help students in decreasing barriers and walks them through the many challenges that may be faced while pursuing their goals. Nabila is not only well liked by the students, but also is well respected by her colleagues. She is always professional and ready to help in any capacity in which she is asked. Nabila would never say no. She is a find a way, make a way individual and a valued member of the Office of Student Affairs team. Ms. Bouqlata is an excellent candidate for Instructional Support Staff of the Year. All her contributions and the difference she makes in the lives of so many never go unnoticed. Although she thought she would spend her life as a biologist working in a lab finding remedies for diseases, we are so glad that she took that caring nature to interact with people in a different way. She has found her passion in teaching, advising and helping students find their way to success. Nabila has said it best herself when she says, I may not be finding cures for diseases; [however] I am finding solutions to help people become successful by leading productive lives and now they are paying-it-forward by sharing their talents within their communities.

Marilyn Williams was elected as the ACE 2019 Non-Instructional Support Staff Person of the Year. Ms. Williams is the secretary for Orange Technical College – mid-Florida Campus’ night school program, which is called the Adult and Community Education program, or ACE. Ms. Williams is an integral part of the ESOL department. She is a very visible presence in the lives of the students in the community. Ms. Williams takes it upon herself to make every ESOL student feel welcome on the campus. As the ESOL test administrator, Ms. Williams is very encouraging and motivating to the students who are very nervous when they have to take the CASAS test. She makes them feel good regardless of the scores they make. Ms. Williams has been actively involved with the community partners. As a representative of the OTC-Mid Florida Campus, Ms. Williams has helped forge strong relationships with business and community leaders. She has benefitted our students and our school. Ms. Williams attends many community events at local organizations, churches, and businesses throughout the school year to actively promote our programs. Marilyn Williams is a leader among our staff, and we can always count on her to do what is necessary for our students.

Miriam Cabrera, HIllsborough County, was awarded the 2019 ACE Award of Teacher of the Year. Ms. Cabrera is a rockstar teacher that has continued to engage and motivate her students to become a better version of themselves. She infuses her lessons with important life lessons that carry on beyond the student’s life in school. She takes extra time and effort to ensure that her lessons address the needs of her students. She maintains a high level of performance in the district when it comes to LCP’s. She also shares her knowledge and experience so that other teachers and students may benefit. She also serves as an instructional leader for the CARIBE program who ensures teachers, students and staff gets the leadership and support they need. In all the years that Miriam has been teaching, her students have improved significantly their English skills. Miriam has the ability to identify the students’ strengths and abilities to encourage learning, helping them to become successful in the American society. Students consider her a knowledgeable and experienced teacher that understands their difficulties in learning English, and they admire the way she addresses their needs and weaknesses. Miriam uses different methods of teaching and multimedia material, to make sure everybody comprehends the material given, and she also promotes the development of critical thinking, teamwork and problem-solving skills. Miriam is helpful, resourceful and she is always eager to offer her enthusiasm and expertise to help fellow teachers perform better. Her leadership and willingness to work diligently are contagious, and they have contributed in the advancement and benefit of the program. Miriam is analytical, always looking for ways to achieve her goals and she is an inspiration to think out-of-the box. On many occasions she has facilitated presentations that have always been characterized for being dynamic, effective and innovative. Miriam has been recognized by administrators and teachers as one of the best teachers of the CARIBE program. Miriam has participated actively in several professional development activities, working with fellow teachers from Hillsborough County and interacting with educators from other states in order to learn and share new teaching styles, techniques and tips to improve student achievement. Some of the Professional Development workshops that she has participated in are: Building Capacity for Florida ABE to GED Prep Program, Ventures and Step Forward Implementation Trainings, Literacy Strategies for Adult Learners, Adult Education Professional Study Day Spring Board, Designing Contextualized Instruction, Strengthening Mathematics Foundation, The English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education, and many others. She also holds two Masters Degrees, one in Curriculum and Instruction, and the other one in Educational Leadership.

Brevard Adult Education was awarded the 2019 ACE Award for media promotion of the year. Theirsocial media reach is over 15,000 on Facebook, 2,900 on Twitter, and 2,300 on lnstagram. These pages have been recognized by SUNSPRA and other organizations for their forward-thinking promotions. Brevard Adult Ed has partnered with iHeart Radio to debut a call-in show fall to expand their reach along the Space Coast. During the 18-19 school year, Brevard Adult Education saw an increase of 5.5% in student enrollment while the state saw a decrease of 11% in student numbers. Their efforts have been instrumental in increasing enrollment numbers in apprenticeships, continuing and community education. Their social media attention has awarded Brevard Adult Ed a $100,000 grant from Advanced Labs to help promote their programs to students with a new phone app that is under development. Next year, they will be back to present to ACE theirsuccesses with this promotional tool. COABE and other adult education programs from around the United States reach out to their program on a near weekly basis to ask for ideas on how to make their promotion efforts that much better. They proud of the fact that they have the most followed social media sites in the USA, and even happier to help other programs reach adult education students in their area.

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties (UWLSC) was elected as the Business Supporter of the Year during the 2019 ACE Conference. The work of the UWLSC focuses on developing a healthier, safer community with a skilled workforce that contributes to the local economy and a generation that is educated and equipped for the opportunities of tomorrow. Through collaboration with a variety of community partners, including Lake Technical College, the UWLSC is able to leverage resources and services to impact and improve the lives of those in our two counties. Over the years, the UWLSC funded adult education instructors in many of our off-site locations across Lake County. Most recently, they have been instrumental in supporting our “Correction Connections” project which allows us to fund an instructor in the Lake County Jail. This instructor helps prepare the inmates for the GED® test and over the past two years, over 201 inmates were served with 77% obtaining literacy gains or obtaining their high school equivalency diploma which opened the door to increased opportunities for further education and success upon their release. In addition, the UWLSC is involved with our Adult Education Advisory Committee and assist in any way that they can to serve students who may need some special assistance in order to succeed in their classes.

Andrew Rothstein and Joyce Wasserman