Meet Our Adult Literacy Instructors!
Like many literacy instructors, Krista Conrick began teaching adults by accident. She started working with BOCES Adult Education when her mother-in-law told her about an aide vacancy. Later, when an instructor position became available, she began teaching her own class. She was hooked. That was in 1991.
“Adult students are so much fun to teach!” Krista says. “They are in class because they want to be. They love to learn and often make big changes in their lives as a result of school. Helping them as they grow is an amazing experience. I can’t imagine a better job.”
Teaching in the TASC program (formerly GED®) is definitely challenging. Instructors handle five subject areas and manage classes with multiple ability levels. It’s a lot like an old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse, very challenging. The system works well, though. Instructors develop individualized study plans for each student. Then students work at their own pace along with teacher assistance and the support of their classmates. Krista makes sure that the atmosphere in her class is stress-free and fun.
Krista’s class meets on Monday and Wednesday nights in Glens Falls. She also oversees BOCES’ Adult Literacy as Program Manager. Outside of BOCES, Krista takes care of her elderly mother and enjoys catching some quality time with her two grown children.
“This is the first time they have enjoyed learning,” said Frank Finch, an adult literacy instructor, when describing his experience helping adult students study for the TASC™ exam.
Frank began working for the WSWHE BOCES TASC™ program at the beginning of the 2014-15 School Year. “I love it and we’ve seen great results,” he said.
He works with students on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Saratoga Springs.
Establishing a bond with his students by sharing a laugh with them along with helping them to relax and take risks are a few of the tactics he uses in the classroom. “I do whatever I can to get them to learn and enjoy it,” said Mr. Finch. “I think education is empowering, especially for the older students.” He teaches students from 18 years old to 50 and older. Frank creates a learning family atmosphere where he acts as a coach inspiring them to keep going. “With half of them, it’s a confidence issue. They need a confidence boost.” Students work individually, with a partner, and as a team.
While Mr. Finch runs a successful financial advising practice during the day, at night you’ll find him teaching. In addition to teaching for the TASC™ exam, he also teaches financial planning classes in a college setting and in nearly a dozen suburban high schools in the Saratoga-Albany area.
Frank has years of experience in the education world. An advocate for life-long learning, he earned a graduate degree in education and taught social studies at Fayetteville-Manlius and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill School Districts. Mr. Finch was included in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.” He was the director of Education Services International in Asia and the Mediterranean and was a college instructor in Illinois, where he pursued additional graduate study in the social sciences while on a fellowship at the University of Illinois.
A native of Queensbury, and resident of Saratoga Springs, Frank likes to hit the gym daily, ski, travel, Latin dance, serves as a trustee for the Shriners, and is past Area Governor for Toastmasters International.
Shazima Gillani is the daytime class adult literacy instructor for the WSWHE BOCES TASC™ program for both Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls. Providing open communication and creating a bond with her students, Mrs. Gillani said of her position, “I love it. I have the opportunity to work with a variety of different level students. I’m constantly assessing and changing my teaching methods and using different strategies for student success.”
In addition to teaching content, Mrs. Gillani assists students in preparing for the TASC™ exam, which is given several times per year in this area, pointing out that one of the things students need to be aware of is how much time they spend on a question.
Mrs. Gillani has years of experience in education. She was a teaching assistant, substitute taught for 10 years, taught an after-school program and in a library.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in childhood education grades 1-6, English grades 7-12 from Stony Brook University, a master’s degree in literacy from the SUNY Plattsburgh and a special education certificate from the College of Saint Rose.
Taking on the role of academic coach, Diane Jones teaches students who have dropped out of high school and are preparing for the TASC™ exam in our Glens Falls location.
“I like it. It’s interesting,” said Mrs. Jones of her position. “I am guiding students through learning content and gaining the skills to pass the test.”
The people enrolled in the program have myriad reasons why they dropped out of high school. “It’s complicated,” explained Mrs. Jones. “I don’t think you can say it’s just one thing. One reason is that the state has amped up the skill level and there are students who didn’t make that jump.”
In addition, there are factors such as homelessness, hunger or dealing with substance abuse. Regardless of the reasons, it’s clear that establishing a relationship with students is imperative. Mrs. Jones sprinkles in some humor with her teaching as she builds a rapport with her students, letting them know she cares about their success.
“We learn from people we like,” added Mrs. Jones as she prepared for her class. “It’s a way to manage your classroom. If you have kids who have dropped out of school due to abuse, they are less likely to trust any adults.”
Mrs. Jones has experience teaching all age groups. She worked as a reference librarian for 10 years at Crandall Library and was the library media specialist at both Granville Central School and Saratoga Springs City Schools. Since 2013, she has also been a tutor with her own business, Adirondack Professional Tutoring.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from SUNY Potsdam, a Master of Library Science and Master of Literacy from University at Albany and is certified to teach in School Media and Literacy (Birth to Grade 6).
Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Jones likes photography, exercising and spends a lot of time reading for enjoyment and professional development. She plays the fiddle for a Celtic music band, the Grafton Street Trio, playing for contra dances, weddings, concerts and special events. Most recently, they played for an Irish Set dance workshop and at the Irish Jam at the Dance Flurry in Saratoga Springs. Mrs. Jones and her husband live in Queensbury.
To sign up for an orientation session call: 518-581-3560 or 518-746-3560.