Adult Education & Literacy

Adult Education & Literacy

Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) provides free virtual and face-to-face classroom instruction to eligible Missouri citizens in Reading, Language, Mathematics, English Language Competency, Workplace Literacy, Digital Literacy, Civics, and Citizenship. Certified instructors teach all classes. Adult students receive preparation for Missouri’s High School Equivalency exam (HiSET® or GED®) integrated with career specific workforce training. English learners become literate in the English language while learning the responsibilities of citizenship and workforce preparation.

AEL programs around the state offer services, free of charge, to anyone who is at least 17 years of age or 16-year-olds who have met Missouri’s compulsory school attendance requirements. To be eligible for AEL services, individuals must also have one of the following barriers: basic skills deficiency/low literacy levels based on assessment, lack of high school diploma or equivalency, or learning the English language.

Funding for AEL programs is determined through a competitive grant process. Local education agencies, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and other eligible groups may apply.


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St. Joseph Adult Education & Literacy’s English Language Learner (ELL) students had an opportunity to share their personal immigration stories with a group of people attending an immigration conference from different parts of the United States, including Pennsylvania, California, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Kansas City.

Students shared their struggles and talked about what they enjoyed most about living in the United States. It is amazing to hear that many students hold professional degrees from their home countries. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions of their visas and professional certification barriers, they cannot use their skills and knowledge. As a result, some have had to settle for working at local manufacturing companies in St. Joseph or not work at all.

Julie Zirfas, program director stated, “We're so proud of our students for their bravery and willingness to share their stories with our visitors. We're also thankful to the attendees who listened with an open heart and mind. It was an incredible experience for everyone involved.  A special thank you to Nancy Clisbee, our Citizenship teacher, for sharing our students and our program with her immigration group.”

News story related this to event can be viewed here: