By Stephanie Ingersoll/Special to GSN

Encouraging life-long learning is the goal of the Adult Education Program in the Queen Creek Unified School District.

Every week, more than 300 adult students attend class in the morning and evening at Queen Creek Middle School. Some students are working toward passing the GED test to obtain their High School Equivalency Diploma, while others are focusing on College and Career Readiness. A separate group is taking English Language Acquisition for Adults classes.

While the students make up different class levels, they all understand the importance of education.

Approximately 14 percent of Arizona’s population ages 18 and over is lacking a high school diploma or equivalent impacting lives, families, and a person’s ability to work productively or participate fully as a citizen.

The annual Arizona Adult Literacy Week is a statewide initiative to increase awareness of the importance of adult literacy, including its bottom-line impact on Arizona’s quality of life and economy.

QCUSD adult education students won six first place awards in the 2017 literacy week contest, the most out of all the adult education programs participating. This year’s contest topics included Advocating for a Better World, Advocating for Public Libraries and Advocating for College and Career Readiness.

For about two months, the students took a few minutes of class time to work on individual and group contest entries. They focused on technology integration and learned how to use computer programs such as Microsoft Publisher. Winning QCUSD submissions included digital presentations and newsletters. Competition was tough as judges reviewed, in total, more than 300 submissions from participating programs.

“The Arizona Adult Literacy Week Contest teaches QCUSD adult learners teamwork, time management, leadership skills and more,” said Miguel Garcia, program manager. “Even if they did not win an award, the students received a participation certificate giving everyone a sense of accomplishment.”

Fifty QCUSD adult education students attended the contest awards ceremony at the Rio Salado College Conference Center in Tempe.

Since 1995, the district has offered adult education classes to adult learners. Teachers and staff meet the educational needs of adult students by utilizing a curriculum designed to address diverse educational and cultural backgrounds.

The program has also changed lives.

Student Maybelin Rodriguez was recently named runner-up for Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year by the Coalition on Adult Basic Education, a national organization with more than 15,000 members. Through her continued education, Rodriguez has developed confidence. She often says “it’s not the language, but the fear” that blocks adult learners. No longer afraid to step out of her self-described comfort zone, Rodriguez has served as a co-trainer for two Statewide Ambassador trainings.

Rodriguez is one of seven trained QCUSD adult education student ambassadors dedicated to advocating for the success of the program. The ambassador program is now in its fourth year. Ambassadors go to the Arizona State Capitol on a regular basis, speak with lawmakers, and are role models for other students working to become life-long learners.

To learn more on the QCUSD Adult Education Program, visit