Dr. Marva Coates encourages more adult learners to take the first step in achieving their goals

December 20, 2021

Dr. Marva Coates has become the face of Richland One Adult Education in the 11 years she has been coordinator of the program. Most of her 38 years in the district have been invested in shaping the lives of adults toward completing a secondary education and improving their workforce skills.

Whether it’s helping students earn a high school diploma, a High School Equivalency Diploma (formerly GED) or a Career Readiness Certificate, or just improve their reading, writing and math skills, she is entrenched in the work of preparing others for the next level.

Coates said that though the students’ reasons for enrolling in the program vary, their drive and that of the teachers is universal.

“The students are motivated and the teachers generally love it because it involves a lot of individualized instruction,” she said.

Coates is making an appeal for more students to enroll in 2022. During the COVID-19 pandemic, adult education classes have been offered virtually and in person, which has benefited the adult learners who lead otherwise busy lives.

“Our students are adults who have children in school, jobs, so we offer two platforms to help them achieve their goals,” said Coates. “The main thing is, once you get your GED or high school diploma, it opens up so many opportunities for a person.”

Coates’ passion to see the students excel is fueled by her desire to become the program that is sought out for making a difference in the lives of its community members, just as it had been when she first took the helm in 2010.

“Richland One was considered one of the best programs in the state and I wanted to ensure I maintained that level of excellence,” said Coates, who landed the job after serving as interim principal at Olympia Learning Center. “We do more with employability skills now than when I walked into it, but the program could basically run itself due to the dedicated staff. We just wanted to enhance what was already here.”

Coates is responsible for programming, overseeing operations, preparing state and district reports, recruiting teachers and students, forging partnerships, establishing sites in the community and providing professional development for teachers.

Those responsibilities are underscored by Coates’ vast experience. Prior to her current position, the Richland One veteran served as an instructional assistant for reading at C.A. Johnson High School; an English teacher at W.J. Keenan High School; a teacher at Five Points Alternative School and C.R. Neal, both of which are no longer in operation; and interim principal at Olympia Learning Center.

In each capacity, Coates said she wanted to give to the students what was imparted to her by one of her former teachers – the importance of setting and achieving your goals.

“I had an amazing seventh grade language arts teacher who just made English fun,” said Coates, who admits that after taking his class, her goal was to become a teacher.

If she is given the occasion to share anything with the adult learners, it is to set a goal and to begin their journey to achieve that goal.

“The hardest step is getting started, but once you start, keep your eyes toward achieving your goals,” said Coates. “Ask for assistance when needed and stay committed.”

For registration information, go to the Richland One Adult Education web page, call (803) 343-2935 or email Coates at [email protected].