In recognition of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, we’ve partnered with Aztec Software to highlight adult educators and their unwavering dedication to improving the lives of all learners.

Reyes Rivera, Director for Brownsville ISD Adult & Continuing Education, located in Brownsville, Texas, shared reflections about working in the field of adult education.

Why did you become an adult educator?

I became an adult educator because I believe that I can make a difference in the lives of our adults’ communities. Some of these students come to my class with no sense of hope. Most have been failed in the past, and I want to think that when they come to me, I am a ray of hope in their lives.

What keeps you inspired to work as an educator despite ongoing challenges? 

Despite the many challenges, I get the stamina I need from seeing that I am making a positive impact in the lives of my students. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing my students’ faces light up when they finally understand a math concept, or when they come to me and share how they are now able to help their children with their homework.

What impact have your students had on your personal and professional life? 

My students have impacted my personal and professional life in different ways. One of the most important lessons I have learned from them is to appreciate “the little things” more. Sadly, some of my former students have been homeless, teen mothers, unemployed, single mothers and fathers, while others were facing some kind of hardship situations; however, they still managed to attend class and make the best out of their lives. I have learned that it is okay to amend my day plan if that means being able to assist that student in the back of the room or in the hall. I learned that I do not need to be perfect as long as I help from my heart.

Why is adult education important? 

Adult education is important because it gives second chances to our adult learners’ communities. Adult education has grown and evolved into a program providing our adult learners a pathway to employment and/or higher education. Adult education is no longer a place to learn English or obtain a GED but a place where our learners will enter the workforce or higher education better prepared to succeed.

Why is it important to have AEFL Week and other advocacy efforts? 

It is extremely important to have AEFL Week and other advocacy efforts in order to raise public awareness about the need for and value of adult education and family literacy. By raising awareness, the public can be more informed about the work we do. Our goal is to reach out and obtain the support needed to be able to provide access to basic education programs for adult learners with low literacy, numeracy, and digital skills.

What can people outside of education do to support you and your learners? 

I would highly encourage people outside of education to assist us by raising awareness of these program(s). I encourage the public to tour our facilities to see first-hand how appreciative our adult learners are. I encourage business owners to provide us with an opportunity to collaborate with them.

Why is it important for leaders to sustain hope in the face of great challenge?

It is important for leaders to sustain hope in the face of great challenge because a good leader knows how to be resilient in the face of adversity. A good leader will take charge, focus, change direction (if needed), and guide him and others to move forward.

When you need a jolt of hope, what do you do or think about?

When I need a jolt of hope, I think about the road that I have traveled and the road ahead. I think about all the struggles and satisfactions I have faced to be where I currently am. I think about my children’s faces and the great amount of pride and joy they feel towards me. I remind myself that I am an imperfect human being allowed to make mistakes. Nevertheless, I learn from the mistakes I made, move forward, keep growing and keep helping people.