Metropolitan Adult Education Program
Martha Larson first showed the signs of being the quintessential life-long learner early in her educational career, but like many she was discouraged. In elementary school she was discouraged because she wanted to work ahead and wasn't allowed to, she was discouraged because she finished her work too quickly and was given busy work and finally she was discouraged because she was told that if she didn't stop answering all of the algebra questions first, the boys wouldn't like her. In ninth grade she was told that she probably wouldn't make it to graduation, and when a counselor told her not to worry about going to college because she would just get married and have children, she dropped out of school.
It wasn't until ten years later that she saw a Metropolitan Adult Education Program catalog at a friend's house that she called and signed up for classes. With the support of the teacher and an encouraging counselor, she not only completed the high school diploma program but was a student valedictorian at the graduation ceremony and won a scholarship to continue her education.
After her high school graduation in 1989, she applied for a job with the Metropolitan Adult Education Program and was hired as a classified substitute. Eventually she was hired permanently. As a Registration Technician, she set a goal for herself: I will do everything I can to help the teachers, students and counselors get through the paperwork efficiently so that there would be more time to teach, learn, and counsel. In pursuing this goal the students came to know Martha's desire to help them succeed. She is intuitive regarding student concerns and often alerted counselors and other staff members to needs that would have been overlooked. Because of her background, she is empathetic yet realistic in assisting students. Her touch of efficiency has influenced all processes of the MAEP high school and GED programs from forms, to procedures, and graduation planning. Martha is always learning, always planning and always assisting others.
In 1995, she officially started teaching in the Metropolitan Adult Education Program. She applied for a vocational teaching credential and was one of the teachers who developed and taught the Office Skills Class. She proved to be a natural teacher. She was innovative in her interpretation and application of the curriculum and assisted many students to set goals, attain them, and in doing so, changed their lives. One of her lessons was so successful that she presented a paper at the California Council for Adult Education State Conference. The paper presented a lesson about workplace discrimination based on the movie "The Desk Set." She was the Office Skills Program Coordinator from 1997-98. In 1998 she received the Excellence in Support Services Award, Bay Section, California Council for Adult Education.
Over the years Martha has taken correspondence courses to continue her formal education as well as hands on training and first hand research about technical changes and improvements. As a result her computer and problem solving skills have made her an invaluable employee. Besides the support of the students and teachers in the programs, Martha has been an integral part of on-going and new district wide technical changes in the management information systems. She was a valuable member of committees that implemented computer generated transcripts, online attendance, and most recently participated in the complicated transition to implement a new student attendance and information system for the district.
This year Martha was able to meet two of her long time goals. One was to be invited to be the Keynote Speaker for the Metropolitan Adult Education Graduation ceremony. Thirteen years after she graduated from the same program, she spoke to inspire the graduates and audience members to be lifelong learners. Her other goal was met when she was hired to be the Systems Support Specialist/Registrar for Metropolitan Education District. She is able to be the support person who teaches staff and teachers how to use the technology systems, but she is still helping students by maintaining and protecting their transcripts and records.
Though discouraged in her education early on, Martha never gave up on learning. She didn't make it to her original high school graduation, but to another. She didn't get married and have children then, but later married Jerry Larson and had a daughter. After earning her diploma from Metropolitan Adult Education Program, she has continued to seek new opportunities to learn and teach. Today, her favorite person to learn from is her five year old daughter, Dakota Sky who teaches her new things about the world every day.