Smith named Outstanding Adult Education Administrator

12 years ago

Contributed photo
NE-CLR-Otis-dcx-pt-29ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR — The Maine Adult Education Association recently named Otis Smith as Outstanding Adult Education Administrator of the Year at a conference June 21. Present during the ceremony were members of his staff, front row from left, Sharon Smith, Otis Smith and Tracy Rockwell; middle, Jennifer Roshto, Sarah Lovejoy, Bernadette Farrar and Mary Murray; and back, Dave Rowe and Nason Graham.

By Joseph Cyr
Staff Writer

    Otis Smith of Hodgdon has helped guide and instruct countless individuals through the Adult Education program during his time as group administrator.
    Smith was honored June 21 at the annual Maine Adult Education Association banquet held at Cotter Union at Colby College in Waterville, when he received the “Outstanding Adult Education Administrator of the Year” award.
    Bernadette Farrar, assistant director of the Houlton/Hodgdon Adult Education Program, nominated Smith for the award and peers in the adult education profession in Maine made the selection process.
    It is not often that Smith’s co-workers are able to keep a secret from him, but that’s precisely what happened when it came to announcing the award.
    Smith had open-heart surgery in March and was recuperating in South Carolina. His staff used that time to plan the logistics of getting his immediate family to the conference.
    “While I was incapacitated, they were plotting this whole thing,” Smith joked. “I noticed that my staff and family were more interested than usual in attending this annual summer conference, but I didn’t think much more about it.”
    At the award’s luncheon, Smith was stunned to find his daughter had flown in from South Carolina with the grandchildren.
    “I got to the luncheon and saw most of my family was there,” he said. “It was then I knew that something was up.”
    Criteria of the award include community collaboration, support of and participation in ongoing professional development, responsiveness to community needs, management of resources, and leadership at both the local and state level. 
    Highlights of Smith’s career in adult education include, co-chairing the local committee that brought the Houlton Higher Education Center to fruition, creation of a local advisory board for adult education and tenure as president, his work in the Literacy Coalition and serving as treasurer of the Maine Adult Education Association where he helped guide the organization to 501c3 status.
    In her nomination form, Farrar wrote, “Otis is the complete package that embodies what an adult education administrator must bring to the table for skills.”
    Smith is currently active in the community in the following capacities:  sitting on the Aroostook County Action Program Board of Directors, chairman of the Houlton Rotary Literacy committee, a member of Director’s North, co-chair of the Area One Local Workforce Investment Board Youth Council, First Book Committee Chair for the Aroostook Training and Education Coalition, and an active member of the Hodgdon Baptist Church.
    “Otis is continually supportive of ongoing professional development, not only for himself, but for our entire staff,” Farrar wrote. “Our program operates in a technology-rich environment, with encouragement and supportive training to assist learners using a variety of strategies.”
    Every student that graduates from the Adult Education program is required to do an exit interview with Smith.
    “He continually strives to make sure that learners are successful in meeting their goals and satisfied upon exit,” Farrar said.
    Smith said receiving the award was a very “humbling moment” in his professional career, considering there are about 150 adult education programs throughout the state.
    “Knowing how many other good programs there are out there, it was very humbling to think they picked me,” he said.
    Smith has served as director of the Houlton/Hodgdon Adult Education program for the past eight years. Prior to that, he was a potato farmer and ran a potato marketing business. He started teaching a college course in 1992 for Northern Maine Community College. He gradually worked his way into the adult education program and began teaching courses for that program in 1994.
    Smith and his wife Michele have two adult children, Amanda and Samantha, both of whom live in South Carolina. Amanda is married to Nathan Croston and the couple have two children, Avery and Emma.