When it comes to highlighting the talented staff at Vermont Adult Learning, who better to spotlight than Kathy McCullough, the Office Manager at the Windsor County Learning Center in White River Junction. Kathy grew up in Westerly, Rhode Island, before making her way up to Vermont during adulthood. Prior to working at VAL, she spent her time in Student Affairs at Vermont Law School (VLS), where she loved working directly with student affinity groups to plan events and celebrations. For a few years, Kathy planned the commencement ceremony for the law school, and this year she will be doing the same for Windsor County’s VAL graduates. For Kathy, commencement for VAL’s students and Vermont Law students is “equally exciting.” The students she serves at VAL have worked just as hard as the law students at VLS, she says, explaining that they must overcome immense obstacles to receive their degree. She could not be more proud of these students she will see graduate in the coming year.
Kathy started work at VAL in March of 2019 and her main focus is completing student intakes and assessments, meaning she gets to know the students on a personal level. When asked why she chose to work at VAL she said, “I needed a place to go after my last job and this job allowed me to use some of my strengths. The idea of being with students, working with people, is really important to me.” She went on to say she was very interested in the job off the bat — she loves organization and management — but did not really understand the organization’s function and purpose. However, after a few years at VAL, Kathy feels very passionate about increasing access to adult education. “Many of us take our education for granted,” she says, explaining why she loves working directly with students.
Kathy speaks highly of the other staff at VAL, saying, “We are really committed to what we do.” She appreciates the ways in which VAL allows her time to pursue other interests. She has a side business where she buys and sells vintage items through social media, especially old books and ephemera. This is one of her greatest passions and she says she would continue to do it even if she won the lottery! In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband, two daughters, and three grandchildren, whom she adores. She also enjoys paper crafting and reading historical fiction; her favorite book of all time is Katherine by Anya Seton.
Kathy emphasizes that everyone should always have the opportunity to explore new things, and a path to education can be a great way to discover different experiences. In her eyes, everyone deserves the chance to better themselves, no matter what that looks like. For example, Kathy speaks highly of a few students who initially came to VAL seeking their GED and later decided to instead work towards high school completion. One of these students even won Student of the Month for the White River Junction Center this year! Kathy marvels at the way VAL students are self-determined and constantly seeking to develop their skills. Through her work as Office Manager, Kathy consistently helps students find their individual paths.
This profile was written by Sarah Plaut, VAL Media & Communications Intern.