The virtual Correctional Education Symposium, hosted by COABE and CEA, was held on May 16, 2023, and more than 1,600 registrants received targeted professional development and inspiration specific to the correctional setting. The goal of the symposium was to bring together correctional education practitioners and administrators to learn what other states are doing in order to enhance their own programs, specifically in the areas of innovative practices, equity in corrections, overcoming reentry barriers, and higher education.

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“This has been the best workshop in my 5 years with Department of Prisons as a Math Educator. I feel like this was never shared with me in the past years. Thank you so much for this information!” Jamie, Attendee from North Carolina


10:00 am – 10:55 am – Welcome & Keynote

  • Welcome from Shaketta Thomas (COABE VP of Membership) and Peggy Kaiser (CEA Executive Director)
  • Opening Statement, presented by APDS – Adam Henderson
  • Keynote Panel Discussion – Shannon Ross, Dr. Stanley Andrisse, and Chris Wilson with Moderator, Danielle Cox

11:00 am – 11:55 am – Session 1: Innovative Practices

  • Building an Educational Program Housing Unit, presented by Amy Lopez
  • Teaching Skills That Matter with Approaches that Work, presented by LaKeshia Adams
  • High Level Hi-SET & GED Success: Incarcerated Adult Learners, presented by Greg Ludwa

12:00 pm – 12:55 pm – Session 2: Equity in Corrections

  • Undoing the Roadmap to Low Literacy, presented by Ernice Brown
  • Using Student Data & Learning Preferences to Adapt Instruction, presented by Katharine Lander
  • Creating Equitable Access to Education Utilizing Washington Education Navigator System, presented by Hanan Al-Zubaidy

1:00 pm – 1:55 pm – Networking Lunch with Themed and Sponsor Breakout Rooms

  • Technology in the Classroom Hosted by APDS
  • Increasing GED Test Scores Hosted by Aztec
  • Increasing TABE Test Scores Hosted by Essential Education
  • Motivating Students Hosted by Brainchild
  • Using Data to Help Students Succeed Hosted by ACT

2:00 pm – 2:55 pm – Session 3: Higher Education in Corrections

  • Pell Reinstatement: Looking Towards the Future, presented by Sean Addie, Ved Price, and Faiza Chappell

3:00 pm – 3:55 pm – Session 4: Breaking Down Barriers to Reentry 

  • The Re-Entry Process: Understanding Why Offenders Relapse, presented by Herman T. Lee, Sr
  • Integrating Entrepreneurship Education & Certification Across Correctional Education Programs, presented by Dr. Cheryl Ayers
  • From Incarcerated to Informed: How to Accelerate the Pipeline for Correctional Facilities, presented by Alex Beene

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm – Awards & Closing

  • Awards, presented by Aztec – Adrienne Fajnor
  • Closing from Jody Angelone (COABE President) & Peggy Kaiser (CEA Executive Director)


Session Descriptions


Advisory Committee
 Danielle Cox

Director of Correctional and Higher Education – State of Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS)

 Danielle Cox has been an educator since 2001, holding a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Shippensburg University and a master’s in education administration from Frostburg University.  She has a broad background as a Teacher, Reading Specialist, Principal, Curriculum Developer, Academic Coordinator, Director of Correctional Education for MD Labor and now Director of Correctional and Higher Education for the State of Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.  Her career has been one of helping those most in need.  In public schools, she assisted struggling students at the secondary school level.  In the Juvenile System, she found ways to reach the most-challenged youth who had faced many adversities in their lives.  While working in the Adult prison system, she advanced through multiple positions, supporting her colleagues and students at each level, as she moved up through the state government positions. Danielle brings to her many roles a variety of educational experiences, innovation and creativity.

In 2014, Danielle began working for the Department of Labor, Correctional Education division, as a teacher at Roxbury Correctional Institution where she assisted many incarcerated persons achieve a high school diploma (GED).  As Academic Coordinator, Danielle created many Professional Development opportunities that offered new directions to teachers within the 17 Maryland state prisons and Pre-Release units.  She provided leadership in the theory and practice of adult education and facilitated the development of an academic curriculum from the planning stage to implementation.

Danielle also facilitated the development of an ESL program, including the new Correctional Education ESL Curriculum, and oversaw the implementation of the GED and TABE 11/12 Tests.  She managed and spearheaded the implementation of the Inmate Tablet Program, funded by multiple state agencies.  In July 2019, Danielle was promoted to Director of Correctional Education for MD Labor, developing and managing multi-million dollar budgets while supervising all staff and educational programming within Maryland’s state prisons. This past July 2022, Danielle began her new role as Director of Education at DPSCS, overseeing all educational programming behind the fence, including the Second Chance Pell sites.

Danielle has also served on the Maryland Association for Adult, Community and Continuing Education (MAACCE) Board of Directors and is currently the Chair of COABE’s Prison Literacy Taskforce, in which she helped to facilitate the creation of a Career Pathways website for Administrators, Educators, and Returning Citizens. In Danielle’s many roles, she hopes to combine her experience with her compassion and enthusiasm to create lasting positive change for incarcerated students in the nations prison system.

Shaketta Thomas

School Assessment Coordinator – Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC)

 Shaketta D. Thomas is the school assessment coordinator for the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC). She completed her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia State University and a master’s in adult education from Regent University; she is presently pursuing a PhD in educational psychology at Regent University.

As a staunch advocate for correctional education and never one to back down from a challenge, Shaketta has made great efforts to ensure that correctional education is not an afterthought but an essential component of adult education. She is an active member of the Virginia Adult Association of Adult and Continuing Education, where she serves as the secretary on the board. She is also a member of the Correctional Education Association and an active participant in the GEDTS® Corrections Forum and the Virginia Special Education Advisory Board.

Ms. Thomas is passionate about adult education and advocating for the needs of her students within correctional education. This advocacy extends beyond the inmates’ period of incarceration and into their functional needs upon reentering society. She collaborates with adult education centers across the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure that students continue to receive services upon release. As a trained dialogue practitioner, Ms. Thomas understands the importance of using one’s voice to create healing and effective change. She is always looking to engage herself in the latest challenges of adult education in hopes of advancing the individual and group difficulties that impact the field.

Peggy Kaiser

Executive Director – Correctional Education Association (CEA)

Peggy Kaiser is the Executive Director for the Correctional Education Association (CEA). She has been a member of CEA since 1996 and served on the Wisconsin State Chapter Board for 22 years.  She has served on the CEA National Board for almost 15 years and as the National President from 2017 – 2018. Peggy worked for the state of Wisconsin for over 32 years.  She began her correctional career as an Adult Basic Education instructor in a maximum-security prison eventually teaching in a medium-security institution, working as the Department of Corrections (DOC) Academic Coordinator, and as an institution and statewide Education Director. Her last assignment before retiring from state service in June 2022 was the Deputy Warden at Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution, a minimum-security prison in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Between 2007 and 2018, Peggy left the DOC and worked for the Wisconsin Technical College System as the Education Director for Adult Basic Education. She was responsible for the oversight of several federal grants that supported adult basic education in 16 technical colleges and correctional education in Wisconsin county jails and state prisons.

Peggy has served as a consultant on various boards, and committees at the local, regional, state and national levels supporting adult and correctional education.  She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a M.S. in Curriculum and Supervision from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  In 2007, Peggy was awarded the Virginia Hart Award from the Governor for outstanding woman in state government and in the same year, the Literacy Advocate of the Year award from Wisconsin Literacy, Inc.

Marcie Koetke

Vice President – Correctional Education Association Board of Directors and Past President – Association of State and Federal Directors of Correctional Education

Marcie Koetke is currently the Vice President of the Correctional Education Association Board of Directors and past president of the Association of State and Federal Directors of Correctional Education. She previously served as the Director of Education for the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MN DOC). In her role she oversaw both adult and juvenile education, providing leadership to the expansion of degree pathways, the adult diploma program and career navigator program. Marcie played an active role representing the MN DOC via the Vera Institute of Justice in the Pell restoration initiative. She presented in plenary sessions and met with Minnesota Congresspeople on Capitol Hill supporting Pell restoration. Marcie currently serves on the MN Computers for Schools Board of Directors focusing on the career tech training. She has served on the Equity & Inclusion sub-committee of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board (GWDB) developing recommendations for the statewide Workforce Innovations Opportunity Act (WIOA)plan. She also participated on the Governor’s Strategic Planning committee with the stated goal of expanding opportunities for the incarcerated population in the state of Minnesota. Marcie holds an M.Ed. from the University of Minnesota.

Michelle Tolbert

Senior Program Director – RTI International

 Michelle Tolbert is a senior program director with RTI International. She has 20 years of experience conducting qualitative research and analysis and providing technical assistance to states and programs in the areas of prison- and jail-based education and reentry, college and career readiness, transitions to postsecondary education, and state and federal policy. Her work includes leading the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Education and Training in Corrections project and developing the Department’s Reentry Education Framework and Toolkit.

Sean Addie

Director of the Office of Correctional Education – Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education

Sean Addie is the Director of the Office of Correctional Education in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). His work at ED includes serving as an agency expert on correctional and reentry education, administering adult and juvenile reentry education programs, and coordinating inter- and intra-agency efforts pertaining to correctional and reentry education. Previously, he was a Senior Program Associate with the Vera Institute of Justice. At Vera, Sean worked on the Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project, a five-year initiative that provides selected states with incentive funding and technical assistance to expand access to higher education for people in prison and those recently released. Sean has a B.A. in History from Washington and Jefferson College and a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New York.

Faiza Chappell

Program Associate – Vera Institute of Justice

Faiza Chappell is a program associate with the Vera Institute of Justice. Her work includes leading some of Unlocking Potential’s Second Chance Pell technical assistance as well as reentry-focused technical assistance with Second Chance Act grantees. Prior to joining Vera, Faiza was an assistant public defender at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office in Rochester, NY. She has worked at the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Medaille College-In-Prison program at Albion Correctional Facility where she helped incarcerated students complete their college degrees. Faiza holds a BA in political science from Nazareth College and a JD from American University, Washington College of Law.