New Kittery, Marshwood adult ed director has big plans

Screen Shot 2019-09-07 at 6.45.42 PMBy Hadley Barndollar hbarndollar@seacoastonline.com September 7. 2019 

 KITTERY, Maine — The new director of Kittery and Marshwood Adult Education has big plans for English language learners, career certification pathways and avenues to high school completion.

Linda Greer comes off a more than 30-year career at the Hannaford supermarket company, where she helped employees transition into new work assignments. Her passion for helping people harness their skill sets led to her pursuing a graduate degree through the University of Southern Maine’s adult education program.

Now she’s ready to push adult learners in Maine’s southernmost communities to success and self-sufficiency. Greer takes over the Kittery and Marshwood programs following the departure of Lorraine Robida at the end of last school year.

“I would always look at a person and say, ’What is their next best development step? What gets them to the edge of just outside their comfort zone, where they could step forward and make progress?” said Greer, of South Portland. “For me, adult education began there.”

The Kittery and Marshwood post is Greer’s first director position. She was an adult education intern in the Westbrook school system during her graduate work, and then became employed as an administrative assistant in the program.

“In that first year, I was fortunate to work with the fast-growing English language growing population that was occurring in Westbrook, and the growth of a career certification program,” Greer said. “We doubled the size of our graduating class. In those two years, it was a fascinating look at important tracks of adult education.”

With English language learners, of which Kittery and Marshwood has a robust program, Greer seeks to channel language acquisition into growth opportunities; looking at English skills as a pathway to a career. Greer called this “a real big passion” for her. Next week she’ll head to Boston for an English language learners program that takes a look at how ELL education relates to art and citizenship training. She’ll also be looking at the “learning lab” at Portland Adult Education, and the structure that program has for helping speakers of other languages excel in the community.

“We have the resources here with tutors and technology and space, and I’m excited to be able to help grow that particular part of it,” Greer said.

Kittery already offers a free preparation course for the U.S. citizenship exam, for example, which many ELL students take in tandem with their literacy classes.

Greer also looks forward to expanding the RISE Up program, a partnership with the Kittery Outlets designed for entry-level and first-time job seekers. Upon completion of RISE Up, students earn the Retail Industry Fundamentals Professional credential, and have a resume prepared, along with a cover letter.

Greer will bring her retail experience from Hannaford to amplify that program, while also expanding the high school equivalency program, known as HiSET, to be accessible to students online. Greer also has interest in reaching out to employers about creating incentive programs for employees who don’t have their high school diploma.

Many community members enroll in adult education classes for the enrichment aspect. Offerings by Kittery and Marshwood this fall include everything from goat milk soap-making, to ukulele for beginners, to debt management. Some classes even focus solely on local history, like Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and infamous murders in Kittery.

No matter the topic, Greer hopes to steer the enrichment program toward potential entrepreneurial experiences.

“If any of those students actually want to take those skills that they’re learning and move them into an economic career path, I would bring into that the ability to help students see and build partnerships with entrepreneurial programs,” she said.

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