CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Office of Adult Education in partnership with the West Virginia Adult Education Association, Inc. (WVAEA) is pleased to announce its 2023 student and program awards. The recognitions are a part of the Adult Education Conference at the Charleston Town Center Marriott (Sept. 13-15, 2023).

The WVDE recognized adult learners and programs for exceptional achievement, dedication, performance and outcomes. Students were honored for earning their high school equivalency and industry certifications utilizing resources from West Virginia Adult Education. Programs from around the state were awarded for their enrollment, contact and distance education hours, percentage of measures met, serving those most in need and retention and obtaining industry-recognized credentials.

Some of the awards presented were:

Adult Education Student Of The Year

Ling Curtis, Ohio County

Ling Curtis emigrated from China to the United States in search of the American Dream in 2011. Later she met her husband and had two sons while owning and operating a successful restaurant in Bellaire, Ohio. Tragedy struck in August 2022, when an explosion destroyed her home, killing her husband and seriously burning her children. Curtis decided to enroll in adult education and earn her high school equivalency in Jan. 2023, knowing she must care for her sons alone. Due to her incredible work ethic and support from the resources of West Virginia Adult Education, Curtis earned her certificate in four months. She will continue her education at West Virginia Northern Community College pursuing a medical career.

English As A Second Language Student Of The Year

Reem Nagib, Cabell County

When Reem Nagib enrolled in the Cabell County English to Speakers of Other Languages program, she barely knew the alphabet or how to introduce herself. Through her commitment to learning and assistance from dedicated instructors, Nagib made remarkable progress. She began initiating small talk in class and was able to communicate with her son’s preschool teacher and read stories to him in English. By the end of the school year, Nagib was leading a group of low-literacy students. She is an inspiration to fellow students and instructors alike.

Spokes Student Of The Year

Shytiece McDowell, Mercer County

Shytiece McDowell grew up surrounded by drugs and alcohol. School was her only “safe place.” She found herself in a dangerous lifestyle through high school and soon became pregnant. Wanting better for herself and her new child, McDowell turned to SPOKES for a second chance. Hungry for better opportunities, she completed almost every certificate offered. She was the first student to utilize the memorandum of understanding with New River Community and Technical College to take advantage of the Math and Microsoft credit when she enrolled for AS-Legal Assisting. Her dream is to earn a bachelor’s degree and work as a juvenile probation officer to help at-risk kids.

Spokes Program Of The Year (Large & Small)

The SPOKES Program of the Year Awards recognizes class completion, enrollment in post-secondary education or training programs or graduating students beginning unsubsidized employment.

  • Jackson County, Small Program
  • Mercer County, Large Program

WV Adult Education Program Of The Year (Full & Part-Time)

The WVAEA honors full-time and part-time programs that have excelled in the following areas: enrollment, contact and distance education hours, percentage of measures met, serving those most in need, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) completion and retention and obtaining industry-recognized credentials.

  • Clay County, Part-time
  • Raleigh County, Full-time

Outstanding Adult Education Performance

This award is presented to those programs that met all of their performance measures by obtaining or exceeding the percentages for each measure in which they had students. Programs must have had students in at least three educational functioning levels.

  • Harrison County
  • Ohio County
  • Clay County
  • New Connections

“Adult education provides free and accessible resources for learners looking to gain skills and improve personal and professional outcomes,” said Director of Adult Education Programs Mendy Marshall. “These students can further contribute to their community in many more ways and improve their overall success.”

West Virginia Adult Education programs build pathways to success by assisting adults to acquire and improve functional skills necessary to enhance the quality of their lives as workers, family members and citizens. These programs play an important role in fostering productive employment, effective citizenship, personal and family growth, self-esteem and dignity for adult learners.

To learn more about West Virginia Adult Education programs, please visit WVDE Adult Education or call the hotline at 1-800-642-2670.

For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or

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