Stephenie Rittberger, adult education coordinator for the Career Learning Center of the Black Hills, has been with adult education as a division of Black Hills Special Services Cooperative for twenty years. Her experience in adult education has been a varied and enriching experience. Mrs. Rittberger began by teaching in two rural sites. She provided GED® preparatory coursework at STAR Academy, a juvenile correctional facility in Custer, and at the minimum security unit in Rapid City. She transitioned into the role of program coordinator six years ago. In 2008, she was the Adult Educator of the Year for the South Dakota Association of Adult and Life-long Learning. Mrs. Rittberger participated in the state development of an initiative to improve the delivery of reading instruction across South Dakota. She also assisted in the development and implementation of College and Career Readiness Standards for adult education programs at a state level. She recently worked on a project to improve and deliver more career pathways for students focusing on transition to post-secondary institutions or ensuring stackable credentials for students exiting programs. Stephenie led the work on the development and implementation of the Woksape project, which builds on previous work and incorporates a cultural component for Native American Learners. This project was a finalist in the Minds That Move Us Career Pathways Challenge and Festival.
Expanding the workforce preparation, providing Integrated Education and Training coursework, and increasing equity in terms of technology are priorities for Coordinator Rittberger’s current work. Trainings for businesses presenting ways to retain high-crisis employees leading to increased employee productivity and improvement of the business bottom line was piloted and is in the process of being presented to area employers through partners. This training is a direct result of the work done in the Woksape project. The Career Learning Center has been fortunate in increasing partnerships and leveraging their expertise in the community, including work with the Bush Foundation Community Innovation team, the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, and several local community service organizations all supporting local adult education learners.
Stephenie is participating in the second cohort of Teaching Skills that Matter. Future work in development of curriculum incorporating more contextualized, project, and problem-based learning is anticipated.
Coordinator Rittberger hopes to be an excellent advocate for adult learners now and into the future. She brings a working knowledge of the challenges of more rural areas. Stephenie is excited for the opportunity to grow as an individual and leader and to gain knowledge about national level work, initiatives, and advocacy efforts leading to improvement of all programs into the future.