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Adult Literacy Celebrates Adult Education at the 2024 Spring Summit

May 24, 2024

Adult Literacy at Nashville Public Library (NPL) recently hosted its highly anticipated Adult Education Spring Summit. This event brought together a vibrant assembly of educators, library professionals, and representatives from various organizations. This summit was not just a platform for professional development, but a celebration of the collective efforts and achievements in adult education. Maggie Ward, the Manager of Corporate Giving for the Nashville Public Library Foundation, delivered a quick welcome address to highlight the achievements and dedication of the adult education community and all they do for Nashville and Davidson County. 

The summit was a melting pot of knowledge and community spirit. Attendees had the opportunity to engage in a robust agenda filled with insightful sessions and networking opportunities. The event began with a keynote message titled “Consequential Impact” by Dr. Deb Macfarlan Enright, founder of the Macfarlan Group, which set the tone for the day. The keynote speaker underscored the far-reaching effects of adult education, emphasizing how it transforms lives and communities. This powerful message resonated with the audience, reinforcing the importance of their work and the impact it has on society.

Deb Macfarlan Enright presenting on "Consequential Impact" at the 2024 Adult Education Spring Summit
Dr. Deb Macfarlan Enright delivers the opening keynote address on "Consequential Impact" at the 2024 Adult Educator Spring Summit. 


A Gathering Like-Minded Hearts

As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) conducted sessions on mental health education, providing resources and strategies to support both educators and their students. These sessions highlighted the critical role mental health plays in the learning environment and offered practical advice for fostering a supportive educational setting. Caroline Cronin from the Wellness Committee and Family Literacy for Bringing Books to Life at Nashville Public Library led a chair yoga meditation session. This activity was designed to help attendees relax and rejuvenate, acknowledging the often-overlooked need for self-care in the education profession. The chair yoga session was well-received, offering a moment of tranquility and mindfulness amid the busy day. Many attendees also mentioned how they could utilize the exercises in their classroom or office setting. 

Chair Yoga at the 2024 Adult Education Spring Summit
Chair Yoga at the 2024 Adult Education Spring Summit

Insightful Sessions and Community Updates

As we took our break for lunch, summit-goers were excited to bond over a catered lunch from House of Kabob. During free time, attendees were encouraged to visit resource tables, where various organizations showcased their programs and services. This time was invaluable for networking, allowing educators and library professionals to exchange ideas, resources, and best practices. The resource tables also provided a space for attendees to learn about new tools and opportunities that could enhance their work in adult education. Community organizations in attendance were: GOAL Collective, Interfaith Dental, Metropolitan Social Services, Metro, Nashville Police Department, NAMI Davidson Co., Nashville Public Library, Tennessee Electronic Library, and Tennessee Language Center.

GOAL Collective, an organization dedicated to advancing literacy and educational opportunities in Nashville provided a seasonal update regarding insights into ongoing projects, upcoming initiatives, and ways in which attendees could get involved. This segment fostered a sense of unity and purpose, encouraging collaboration and community engagement among participants.

One of the most informative sessions was provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. This session offered valuable information on immigration services and support for educators working with immigrant populations. It gave an update on the upcoming grant application and award season for agencies to apply to be citizenship education centers. The USCIS representatives discussed recent changes in immigration policies, resources available for immigrants, and how educators can assist their students in navigating these complexities. This session was particularly relevant given Nashville's growing immigrant community, highlighting the library's commitment to inclusivity and support for all residents.

2024 Adult Educator of the Year Nominees

The culmination of the event was the presentation of the 2024 Adult Educator of the Year Award, which Cassandra Taylor (Adult Literacy Program Specialist), served as the Master of Ceremony while Jamil Sameen (Adult Literacy Program Supervisor) stood to honor and present the nominees with a memento of appreciation. This prestigious award recognized an outstanding individual whose dedication and innovative practices have significantly advanced adult education in Nashville. The award ceremony was a moving tribute to the hard work and passion of educators who strive to make a difference in their communities.

2024 Adult Educator of the Year Nominees

Wendy Salyers, nominated by The Branch of Nashville
Dr. Laura Briggs, nominated by The Branch of Nashville
Pablo Siekavizza, nominated by Begin Anew of Middle Tennessee
Fatemeh Tavassoli, nominated by Nashville International Center for Empowerment
Lorie Adams, nominated by the Tennessee Language Center
Joaquina Martinez, nominated by YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee


Wendy Salyers, 2024 Adult Educator of the Year; Dr. Laura Briggs, 2024 Runner-Up
2024 Adult Educator of the Year, Wendy Salyers. 2024 Runner-Up, Dr. Laura Briggs. Both nominated by the Branch of Nashville.

After celebrating the Adult Educator of the Year Nominees, it was announced that the winner of this year’s award is Wendy Salyers of the Branch of Nashville. This year’s runner-up also works with The Branch of Nashville and is Dr. Laura Briggs. Agencies gathered together to congratulate the Branch and other professional organizations that had nominees in attendance. To celebrate all adult educators in attendance, free professional headshots were provided by Readylight Media to all event attendees beginning after the award ceremony. Summit-goers were also excited to attend a tour of the Special Collections Department led by Elliot Robinson of Nashville Public Library.

Adult Literacy Awards the Winners
(Left to Right) Jamil Sameen, Adult Literacy Supervisor awards Wendy Salyers the Metro Nashville Proclamation alongside her nominators from the Branch.

Through insightful sessions, valuable networking opportunities, and a focus on well-being, the event reinforced the vital role that educators and libraries play in building a brighter future for all. Adult Literacy at Nashville Public Library is honored to organize this ceremony for the adult education community throughout Nashville and Davidson County. In addition to receiving a mini-grant award from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Adult Educator of the Year also receives a written proclamation from Metro Nashville. This year's proclamation was presented to Wendy Salyers by Council Woman Lee Antoinette of District 33.


There was also a variety of attendees from across the state, such as Amy Lowdermilk a Career Coach at TCAT-Athens Southeast from Chattanooga, who shared "It was great to be a part of the program yesterday! Thank you for your hard work in organizing everything and being available to your friends in Chattanooga!" Other eventgoers praised this year's summit. Dr. Ameshica Linsey of GOAL Collective shared "The keynote and meeting new people.  Thanks for the opportunity (to present) and your partnership." Emily  Behr of the Nashville International Center for Empowerment shared "These summits are always inspiring and I always learn something new - thank you!" 

The 2024 Adult Education Spring Summit was more than just a professional gathering; it was a celebration of community, learning, and the transformative power of education. By bringing together a diverse group of individuals dedicated to adult education, the summit fostered an environment of collaboration, inspiration, and shared purpose.  

cassandra photo


Cassandra Taylor received her Bachelor’s in English (Writing Concentration) and Master of Library Science from Middle Tennessee State University. She has worked in public libraries and higher education for the past five years and also taught General English for college. Cassandra is the Program Specialist for Adult Literacy at Nashville Public Library where her goal is to provide equal access and educate library patrons about the diverse resources available at NPL.


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