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Tech Specialist’s Quick Actions Kept Students Connected

January 25, 2023


Just one week after shutting down in March 2020, East Hartford Adult & Continuing Education in East Hartford, Connecticut, was back up and running with live, remote instruction.  

The program was lucky. As the world began to shut down, their technology specialist John M. Bergman developed the necessary skills to lead them in the rapid shift to remote learning. Over the past seven years, John has served as a paraprofessional and an ESL teacher at East Hartford. He knew not only how important it was to keep instruction going, but also that both staff and students would need support through this transition. 

John committed himself to finding digital solutions to ensure the program would be able to continue providing learners with instruction even from a distance. But he knew it wouldn’t be easy. There were many staff members and students who were unfamiliar with how to use computers.  

So, he started offering weekly professional development sessions for the staff. He recorded the sessions for anyone who couldn’t attend. He offered one-on-one Zoom tutorials, met students (outside) during the height of the pandemic to distribute laptops, and troubleshot any technology issues in the organization. John also helped ESL students—some with very little English—sign up for classes and testing through individual instruction. 

When the world threw us the unknown, John stood out as a leader. In recognition of his dedication, ProLiteracy awarded him the Ruth J. Colvin and Frank C. Laubach Award for Excellence in Community-Based Adult Literacy this October at the ProLiteracy Conference on Adult Education. This honor recognizes an outstanding tutor, trainer, teacher, volunteer, or program administrator. Congratulations, John!