Adult Literacy at NPL logo

Adult Educator of the Year

Adult Educator of the Year

The Adult Educator of the Year award honors an educator, paid or volunteer, who makes significant contributions to the work of Adult Education in Middle Tennessee. Past honorees include ESL teachers, High School Equivalency instructors, and financial counselors. Through exceptional dedication and innovation, our city’s adult educators foster the English language, basic literacy, and life skills learners need to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Please direct any questions about the award to NPL’s Adult Literacy Coordinator, Megan Godbey at

Nominate an Educator

Nominations for 2019 are open from September 12 - November 1, 2018. Nominate an Educator

Nominations for Adult Educator of the year typically open in mid-September. Sign up for the Adult Literacy Newsletter and get notified when submissions open, along with other news and tips about Adult Education.

Past Recipients

Picture of Cheryl with Award Certificate

Cheryl Hadley, 2018 Adult Educator of the Year

Cheryl Hadley has been a pioneer in the Nashville ESL community for seventeen years.

According to her nominators at Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC), Hadley "is one of those rare individuals who is [sic] both truly selfless and professionally exceptional." If you walk into Hadley’s classroom, "you will see her radiating warmth, joyfulness, and understanding and her students reflecting these qualities back."

Hadley once drove to Memphis with a student for her naturalization test. When NALC experienced a reduction in funding, she offered to take a pay cut and raised money for student scholarships.

In response to long waiting lists, Cheryl Hadley developed the Start Now program at NALC which provided students with services while they were waiting to be matched with a tutor. The Start Now Program was awarded the 2008 Frist Foundation Award of Achievement for Innovation in Action.

Picture of Robbie Hunter, award recipient, with Kent Oliver, Megan Godbey, and Congressman Jim Cooper

Robbie Hunter, 2017 Adult Educator of the Year

Robbie Hunter is a teacher and tutor with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC), Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) and Workforce Essentials.

Hunter’s nominators and the selection panel praised her dedication to helping immigrant learners understand math concepts and translate those concepts into skills needed to gain high school equivalency certification and workforce skills. Her unique position as an employee of three agencies allowed her to build bridges between them which resulted in better service for her students and greater success along their learning pathways.

In their nomination, Hunter’s colleagues at Workforce Essentials noted how her ability to communicate complex mathematical ideas effectively had earned her the nickname of "Math Jedi."

As Adult Educator of the Year, Robbie Hunter represented Nashville’s adult education community in a special audience with Representative Jim Cooper.

Picture of Stephen Edwards, award recipient, with Kent Oliver, Teri Hughes, and other adult educators

Stephen Edwards, 2016 Adult Educator of the Year

Stephen Edwards served as World Relief Nashville's Adult Education Coordinator.

In this role, Edwards went above and beyond to meet the needs of his students, both inside and outside of the classroom. He gained his TESOL certification in order to master best practices and, drawing on his past experience living abroad, created a more comprehensive and relevant cultural orientation curriculum.

Known for building deep relationships, Edwards became such a key part of one family’s integration into the United States that they named their baby after him. According to his nominators at World Relief, Edwards is not only "a great educator but also a great mentor, coworker, and friend."

Shortly after receiving this recognition, Edwards relocated to Greece to lend his talents to an initiative which addresses the migrant crisis in that country.

Thank You to Our Sponsors