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From Our Executive Director

Expectations create reality.  My grandmother worked as a bookkeeper.  When I was a kid growing up in the Bronx, she’d show me a bank book with my name on it and say she deposited part of her weekly earnings into it for me, “for college.”  My dad interrupted his high school education to serve in World War II; he earned his GED while in the Navy.  From an early age, he made it clear that I was going to college.

Approximately 42,000 Vermonters have not completed high school, according to the U.S. Census.  Education is a ticket out of poverty.  Education opens doors to college, training programs, better paid employment and financial security.  Education is also a social determinant of health, according to the World Health Organization.

Vermont Adult Learning provides basic literacy and math instruction, high school diploma and GED completion and English Language Learning (ELL) classes.  It’s about credentials.  It’s about workforce training.  It’s about moving on to college or an apprenticeship program.  It’s about a better job and career.  It’s about thriving.

Since our beginnings in the early 1980s, Vermont Adult Learning has served students facing barriers to education with individualized instruction and supports such as transportation help and food aid so they can be present, ready to learn. We meet students where they are to help them realize their educational goals.  We are nimble, adjusting to a shifting economy with enhanced focus on job readiness and career pathways.

Whether you’ve grown up in Vermont or arrived last month from another continent, whether you are 16 or 67, we are here to help you define and achieve your academic goals.  And, our services are FREE.

Best Regards,
Hal Cohen
Executive Director

Vision and Mission

Vermont Adult Learning works for the day when all Vermonters are prosperous and have the life skills and knowledge to achieve success in their careers, family, and community. Further, we envision Vermont Adult Learning as a leader in education and training for those 16 years and older, and as a key resource in helping Vermonters to be successful in achieving their goals.

Vermont Adult Learning’s mission is to create an innovative, inclusive, and equitable learning environment that provides personalized opportunities for education and career development for Vermont residents by building relationships, strengthening communities, and fostering lifelong learning.


In a state where 36,000 residents lack high school diplomas, VAL helps adult learners, age 16 and older, acquire the reading, writing, math and computer skills necessary to earn their high school diploma or GED.  We teach English Language Learners (ELL) language skills needed to advance educationally and in the workplace;  we help them prepare for citizenship.  Our students experience barriers in their public schools, health issues or displacement from their homelands due to poverty and/or political turmoil.  We provide College and Career Readiness support, including active partnerships to help our students continue to college or a better job.  We are a safe, welcoming place where students can resume their studies with support and encouragement.

Quantitative Outcomes:  Fiscal Year  2022 (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022)

Total Students Served:  1,548

Total Students Who Earned High School Diplomas or GED:  79

Skill Gains Achieved in Reading, Writing, and Math: Students enrolled in our Basic Education and High School Completion Programs are tested for specific skill gains via federally approved standardized tests.

English Language Learners (ELL) Served: 308

Reach Up:  Our Reach Up employment specialists served 477 participants in the last year, helping them move from public assistance to employment

Qualitative Outcomes:  What our work looks like

  • A high school-aged student testing a catapult he built for a physics credit in one of our classrooms
  • A multi-age ELL class with students from China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Turkey and Colombia learning the present and past tense of commonly used verbs
  • A homeless youth from Spectrum Youth & Family Services, separated from their birth family, sitting in a math, computer or civics class as they strive to earn their high school diploma
  • A teenager, who struggled in his local high school due to mental health issues, being tutored, 1:1, by a volunteer for an art history project
  • A client from Howard Mental Health who comes to sit in one of our comfy chairs, almost daily, to read from our on-site library
  • Students coming in for a morning ELL class, grabbing a VAL-provided, free breakfast and a cup of coffee, because they just finished the night shift at a local manufacturer
  • A VAL educational advisor sitting with a student as they map out his/her/their plan to apply to college

Our History

Vermont Adult Learning was established in 1980 as the Vermont Institute for Self-Reliance (VISR), providing Adult Basic Education via correspondence courses.  VISR expanded services to include in-home tutors, video courses and GED testing.  VISR expanded to serve seven (7) of Vermont’s fourteen (14) counties, via a Vermont Agency of Education Grant.  We serve the state’s most populous regions, covering the following counties:   Franklin, Grand Isle, Chittenden, Addison, Rutland, Windsor and Windham.

VISR changed its name to Vermont Adult Learning in 1996.  We host learning centers across Vermont, providing a safe, comfortable, professional and supportive place for adult students, ages 16 and older, to learn the skills and knowledge they need to prosper in 21st-century Vermont.


Adult Basic Education offers people, aged 16 and older, the opportunity  to develop and/or improve basic skills in reading, writing, math, computers and speaking English to get a better job or pursue more education.

Adults who are 16 years old or older who are not enrolled in secondary school (high school, technical center, etc.) and whose learning level in reading, math, writing and speaking English is below the 12th grade level may participate.

If earning your diploma is a goal, we can help you create an educational plan to earn either your high school diploma or prepare for the GED test.

A High School Diploma is awarded by a Vermont school district.  A GED Diploma is granted to learners who earn a passing grade on the GED Test of Educational Development.

If you need only a small number of credits to earn your high school diploma, and you have time to complete them, the High School Diploma can be a good choice.

If you need many credits or you wish to earn your high school credential in a short time, the GED may be a better choice.

For help deciding, schedule an appointment to meet with one of our academic advisors.  They will be glad to discuss your options and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision that will prepare you for whatever goals you set.


Hal Cohen, M.A., M.S.

Executive Director
(802) 560-4030 | [email protected]

Hal was appointed Executive Director of Vermont Adult Learning in June of 2018. Previously, he was the Executive Director of Capstone Community Action for over 18 years and Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services during the last two years of Governor Peter Shumlin’s administration.

Matthew Bentley

Regional Director, Windham County
(802) 257-9449 | [email protected]

Matthew, being a jack of all trades, held a variety of jobs in health care, construction, car sales, lumber, and manufacturing before finding his passion when working as a residential counselor for the former Bennington School Inc. After helping students who struggled with academics earn a diploma, he knew what he wanted to do with his life and returned to college to earn a degree in education.

After working for SVSU and some out-of-state nonprofit residential schools as a special educator, classroom teacher, therapeutic crisis interventionist, and work-based learning coordinator, Matthew returned to Vermont and began working in adult education as a Transition Counselor and AEL Program Manager. He hopes to apply his values, life experiences, and passion for education and career/post-secondary planning to ensure the best possible outcomes for VAL students.

All of Matthew’s formal education has been in Vermont, and, although he has lived and worked in NY and MA, he considers Vermont and its communities his true home.

Rebecca Campbell

Human Resources Director
(802) 560-4057 | [email protected]

Rebecca joined Vermont Adult Learning in 2004 and served in various roles working closely with leadership before stepping into her current position as Human Resources Director. Prior to VAL, she worked in traditional schools as well as trade schools. Rebecca grew up in Vermont and loves to travel! When she’s not working she is often in her flower beds or enjoying the outdoors.

Christopher Ettori

Regional Director, Rutland
(802) 560-4281 | [email protected]

Chris Ettori has been named Regional Director of Vermont Adult Learning’s Rutland Office. He previously worked as assistant director at CCV for over twelve years as well as a faculty member teaching classes in foundational math, computer applications, customer service, and effective workplace communications. Ettori is very active in the Rutland community, having served on numerous boards and committees. He spent six years as a Rutland City Alderman and was a founding board member of Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum and Rutland’s Promise, the first shelter for homeless families in our community.

Janine Fleri, M.A.

Director of Development
(802) 735-1670 | [email protected]

Janine Fleri is a writer and conceptual multi-media artist who worked in independent film and corporate television for a decade before moving to the nonprofit sector. She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School. Prior to joining VAL, Janine spent six years as part of the Community Relations and Development team at the Community Health Centers of Burlington and held a seat on the Board of Directors for the Media Factory from 2017 to 2022.

Karen Harker, Ph.D.

Regional Director, Windsor County
(802) 458-0261 | [email protected]

Karen is a passionate educator originally from North Carolina. She holds a B.S. in English Education from East Carolina University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute, located in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK. Prior to her work with Vermont Adult Learning, Karen was a high school English teacher in both North Carolina and Vermont, and also taught undergraduate and graduate-level courses at The University of Birmingham. Karen enjoys spending time in the beautiful scenery of Vermont, hiking, doing yoga, crafting, and reading. When not working, she is often with her constant companions — Monkey (the cat) and Walden (the puppy).

David Justice

Associate Director
(802) 923-3960 | [email protected]

David has served in the non-profit sector since 2004 as a director, consultant, program manager, developer, teacher, and employment specialist. He leads Vermont Adult Learning’s workforce development administration and expansion, strategic planning implementation, and employment services for Vermont’s Department for Children and Families Reach Up Program.

Ethan Maurer

Regional Co-Director, Chittenden County
(802) 735-1481 | [email protected]

Ethan joined Vermont Adult Learning in 2007.  He worked in traditional and alternative schools, nonprofits and even held a real estate salesperson license.  After growing up in NYC, he moved north to Vermont, chasing mountains and snow.

Eric Peterson

Regional Director, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties
(802) 752-4977 | [email protected]

Eric Peterson graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in secondary education.  He has over a decade of experience in workforce development as a workforce investment board coordinator and an adult technical education director. Eric is Secretary / Treasurer of the Franklin-Grand Isle Bookmobile and a volunteer at the Franklin County Community Justice Center.

Joe Przyperhart, M.S.

Director of Programs
(802) 458-0261 | [email protected]

Joe joined Vermont Adult Learning in 2014 as Regional Director for our Middlebury site and now coordinates VAL’s adult education programs for all our regions.  Joe’s background includes many years of teaching in science, math and workforce prep.

Natalie Reigle

Regional Director, Addison County
(802) 458-0103 | [email protected]

Natalie joined Vermont Adult Learning in 2011 as a Teacher, GED Educational Advisor and Assessment Trainer.  She had a successful career in environmental engineering after earning a degree in Geomechanics from the University of Rochester. Upon moving to Vermont she started a new career in education by joining the alternative program at a local high school.  She is a Vermont Licensed Educator for Math in grades 7-12, a Licensed Professional Geologist in Pennsylvania, and a Certified Personal Finance Instructor.

Kim Rupe Lennox, M.B.A.

Director of Workforce Development
(802) 490-3287 | [email protected]

Kim joined Vermont Adult Learning as the Director of Workforce Development in 2023. In prior roles, Kim worked at the Vermont Council on Rural Development, Chamber & Economic Development of the Rutland Region, and College St. Joseph. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from Fitchburg State University, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from College St. Joseph, and a Digital Marketing Fundamentals Certificate from University of Vermont. Kim is a council member for the Vermont Women’s Fund, a board member for Community Capital of Vermont, a member of the Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network, and former President of Rutland Young Professionals. Kim is originally from Rutland County and now lives in St. Johnsbury with her husband and their three dogs.

Sara Teller, M.Ed.

Regional Co-Director, Chittenden County
(802) 735-0124 | [email protected]

Sara came to Vermont Adult Learning (and the state of VT) in the summer of 2019 as the Burlington Instructional Coordinator before moving into her role as Regional Co-Director. Prior to moving to Vermont, she spent 15 years in Phoenix, Arizona as an English teacher and administrator. Originally from the Midwest, Sara is an avid Big 10 football fan (GO PURDUE), and Chicago White Sox fan. When not working she is often on an outdoor adventure with her partner and their four-legged pack.

Board of Trustees

Martha Adams

Martha Adams, a resident of South Royalton, serves as a student/alumni representative on Vermont Adult Learning’s Board of Trustees. She is a full-time student at the Community College of Vermont, pursuing a double major in Early Childhood Education and Business. She has been invited to her college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She is married and homeschools, in her words, “an amazing little boy.”

Edmund Booth

Edmund Booth is a Network Analyst at Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. He brings over 15 years of board and committee experience in Vermont and New England. He has formerly taught in both public and technical schools in Vermont. He holds an undergraduate teacher’s degree from Keene State University and is a graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute of the Snelling Center for Government.

James Coutts

James brings decades of management experience in the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries and has held significant positions helping low- and moderate-income seniors living in rural communities.  He also serves as a commissioner on SerVermont, the state’s commission on National and Community Service.

Paul Dragon

Paul has worked at the Agency of Human Services in several roles, including the Deputy Secretary for the Agency, the Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, and recently as the Director for Field Services. In each of these roles, he has sought to bring the Agency’s vision of holistic and integrated services to Vermonters. As the Director of the Healthcare for the Homeless Program in Burlington, he led the development of the Safe Harbor Clinic and the Pearl Street Clinic. He received his Doctorate Degree in Education from the University of Vermont where he received the Herman B. Meyers Excellence in Doctoral Policy Research Award. He is now the Executive Director of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.

Dee Gilbert

Dee is the Assistant Director for Employer Relations and Outreach in the Center for Careers and Internships at Middlebury College. She fosters employer relationships in order to provide high quality and diverse employment and internship opportunities to students. Gilbert has a passion for helping people set and achieve goals and brings sixteen years of Human Resource experience in higher education. She is active in her church and has served as a volunteer for Vermont Adult Learning since 2013.

Ashley Griggs

Ashley Griggs, a resident of Chester, serves as a student/alumni representative on Vermont Adult Learning’s Board of Trustees. She attends the Community College of Vermont and is working towards a degree in Early Childhood Education. She enjoys drawing and photography in her free time.

Tuipate F. Mubiay

Tuipate works at the Community College of Vermont as a Coordinator of Student Advising.  He worked at Howard Center as Diversity Coordinator for 13 years until the beginning of January 2020.  In 1999, he co-founded the Association of Africans Living in Vermont (AALV), a community-based organization that serves more than 3,000 people each year and is its Board President.

Marcy Stephens

Marcy Stephens, a resident of Jamaica (VT), serves as a student representative on Vermont Adult Learning’s Board of Trustees. Marcy is a 2020 VAL graduate and current student at CCV. She enjoys reading for pleasure, gardening, and hiking in her free time and hiked the Grand Canyon in Arizona from the South Rim to the North Rim in 2009. She plans to earn a degree in Behavioral Science.

Richard Tulikangas

Rich works for HireAbility Vermont as the Career Advancement Director, managing an exciting new statewide research project that helps individuals with disabilities develop and pursue career pathways leading to higher-wage employment.  Rich earned a B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Education from UVM.


Vermont Adult Learning actively cultivates relationships with partners from the  governmental, educational, nonprofit, foundation and business sectors.  We recognize that working across traditional boundaries enhances outcomes for our students.

Examples of these partnerships:

  • Teaching an English at Work class for New Americans working at Rhino Foods in Burlington, Vermont
  • Serving on a Vermont Department of Labor panel at a Workforce Development event in central Vermont.
  • Partnering with Vocational Rehabilitation to support a student with special needs to earn their diploma
  • Co-writing and executing a Vermont Agency of Education Grant with the Springfield (VT) School Department to create enhanced Personal Learning Plans for students


VAL values transparency and we want our staff, students, and donors to be informed of the financial health of our organization. We publish an Annual Report to share this information while highlighting accomplishments for our Fiscal Year, which is from July 1 to June 30. Our archive of Annual Reports can be accessed here.



At Vermont Adult Learning, each member of our staff can make a positive difference in a student’s life.  That’s why we seek talented individuals who share our commitment to helping adult learners learn, grow, and thrive.

Staff Testimonials

“I love working here at Vermont Adult Learning.  Every student who walks through the door gives me an opportunity to ask the right questions, thus giving students a pathway to find their right answers.  It is in the discovery of finding their answers that they find themselves.” ~ MJ

“I love the diversity of work here.  Each student brings their unique goals, talents, and challenges and the wide variety of learning opportunities here allows us to really craft an educational plan that fits that student and helps them move toward their goals.  It can be hard work and there is always a lot to learn, but it is also incredibly rewarding.”  ~ Joe

Current Job Openings
ABE Instructor – St Albans, VT
Beginning ELL Adjunct Instructor – Burlington, VT
Workbased ELL Adjunct Instructor – Burlington, VT
Math ELL Adjunct Instructor – Burlington, VT
Education Advisor – Burlington, VT

To apply, submit a letter of interest, resume and three references to:

Rebecca Campbell
Human Resources Director
Vermont Adult Learning
PO Box 539
Waitsfield, VT 05673
(802) 560-4057
[email protected]

Vermont Adult Learning is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  We offer a competitive benefits package that includes health, dental, and vision insurance, life insurance, long-term disability, annual leave, sick leave, holiday leave, an Employee Assistance Program, and a 403(b) matching option.

Non-Discrimination Policy

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Vermont Adult Learning is committing time, money, and resources with the goal of making Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) an integral piece of VAL culture.  We would love to involve the insight of more VAL students, alumni, staff, board members, and community partners in this work.  If you are interested in participating in some way with the VAL DEI Committee, please contact [email protected].

VAL is steadfast in its commitment to diversity and providing equal access to participation in its programs and services. We strive to be sensitive to known barriers of gender, race, national origin, color, disability or age.  We pursue equitable recruitment and hiring practices in an effort to attract qualified staff and volunteers reflecting our population’s diversity.

Gender – All staff will work to ensure a gender-equitable environment, with the understanding that gender and sexuality are fluid, not binary.  All outreach efforts and programs are gender-neutral.  Faculty and staff will refrain from stereotyping based on gender identity, using gender-neutral pronouns, or student-chosen pronouns, whenever possible.

Race, Age, National Origin, Color – Recruitment is unbiased and Vermont Adult Learning staff will work to ensure every person, regardless of race, age, national origin or color receives equal access to all services.  Hiring practices will reflect a commitment to full equity and inclusion. Our website’s Homepage (www.vtadultlearning.org) offers an auto-translate feature, making services more accessible to New Americans.

Disability – Vermont Adult Learning recognizes that many of our students and potential students meet the definition of having a “disability,” as defined by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).  We make every effort to accommodate disabilities, such as maintaining ADA-compliant facilities, using assistive technologies (where available and applicable), offering flexible scheduling and many other appropriate accommodations and services.  We are committed to removing barriers inhibiting equal access to our spaces and services.

Recruitment and hiring – Vermont Adult Learning has a commitment to fair hiring.  We do not discriminate based on gender, race, age, nationality, color, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, including, but not limited to, ADA-accessible Learning Centers and assistive technologies.

Student outreach and intake – We collaborate with religious groups of all denominations, migrant justice groups, mental health providers, agencies, etc.  Our outreach and communications include student representation from diverse demographic sectors. We create opportunities for and encourage staff to participate in trainings addressing issues of equity for the varied constituencies we serve. These measures, coupled with outreach and intake, are designed to increase staff awareness and remove many of the barriers our students encounter.

Vermont Adult Learning has in place a vast array of policies ensuring compliance with American with the Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102), WIOA Section 3(25), and the General Education Provisions Act, Section 427. We actively ensure that staff, students and potential students are afforded protections granted under the above provisions.

© Vermont Adult Learning

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