skip to main content

Mission & Values

Pacific Grove Adult Education is committed to providing educational programming for adults with disabilities that help them reach targeted goals for independent living, continuing education and training, and community integration.

Student-centered – Outcomes-oriented – Inclusivity & Accessibility – Integrity


PGAE’s Independence Pathway Program, a free day program at the Pacific Grove Adult School, serves neurodiverse adults and adults with mild/moderate intellectual or developmental disabilities who are at least 18 years of age and can independently handle all activities of daily living. 

The program will maintain a staffing ratio of 6 students to 1 staff (6:1).

Students will be recruited from PGUSD’s Transitions Program; other LEA partners such as MPUSD, CUSD, and Monterey Peninsula College; WIOA partners like the Department of Rehabilitation and the Workforce Development Board of Monterey County; and other community partners.


Principal/Director: Barbara Martinez
School Coordinator: Kristen Arps
Instructor: Zee Szestowicki
College & Career Coach: Petra Solomon
Instructional Aides: Catarina Pennisi, Farzana Kahn, Ritika Kumar
Clerk: Sandra Dorantes
Supplemental support is provided by:
PGUSD Student Services
PGUSD Adult Transitions Program (located at the adult school)
Monterey Peninsula College Access Resource Center (MPC ARC)


Instruction and training services

Includes classes related to basic skills (language arts, math, and digital literacy), independent living skills, employment readiness, vocational skills, health and wellness, and personal enrichment. (See Appendix A for an outline of the curriculum and student learning outcomes.)

College and career pathways services

Includes enrollment in classes at Monterey Peninsula College and opportunities to obtain work experience (through volunteering and interning) and obtain gainful employment.

Support services

Includes, upon intake and on a regular basis, a person-centered planning process that is used to help students understand and make their own choices based on their interests and needs and to identify their short- and long-term vision and goals. This individual planning process assists individuals in defining their strengths and assets and identifying their support network and resources as related to their goals and objectives. Services also include service coordination with SARC and inter-agency referrals to the Department of Rehabilitation, America’s Job Centers of California, and other partners. 


Monterey Peninsula College
Monterey Peninsula Adult Education Consortium
Monterey County Office of Education
Pacific Grove Unified School District High Schools
Department of Rehabilitation
Monterey County Workforce Development Board and America’s Job Center of California
Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce
Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Sustainable PG
Art Abilities
Gateway Center of Monterey
San Andreas Regional Center
Stanford Neurodiversity Project

Program Effectiveness

Program effectiveness will be continuously evaluated through the following quality assurance activities: 
  • Student and family feedback (via in-person meetings, online and paper surveys, etc.)
  • Student attendance and participation data 
  • CDE-approved student assessment tools (Brigance and CASAS) to measure skills gains 
  • Student outcomes data
  • Data reporting to state agencies
  • Annual program self-evaluation
  • Staff professional development


PGAE receives funding through the California Adult Education Program (CAEP) and California Department of Education (CDE) to provide education services to individuals with cognitive, physical, sensory, or medical disabilities. Adult education for individuals with disabilities provides modified materials, tools, and instructional strategies to increase literacy and workplace skills.

Appendix A: Curriculum and Student Learning Outcomes

The Pacific Grove Adult Education, Adults with Disabilities Program (PGAE AWD) is aligned with PGAE’s mission of working in partnership with the community to serve every student by providing a quality instructional program in a positive, safe, and stimulating environment. PGAE AWD provides high-quality programming that will prepare and empower adults with disabilities to progress toward reaching their individual goals of independence, personal fulfillment, and community inclusion. The day program focuses on functional skills training, continuing education, work experience, employment, and community integration that will enable the students to operate confidently, effectively, and with greater independence in life and work. PGAE AWD and all PGAE programs maintain student learning outcomes that help students reach their individual goals.

PGAE Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will achieve measurable growth in knowledge and skills in their area of study.
  2. Students will be able to identify and access diverse resources, information, and technology related to their area of study.
  3. Students will apply acquired knowledge and skills to their personal and professional lives.

PGAE AWD Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will communicate effectively both verbally and nonverbally.
  2. Students will interact appropriately with others in a variety of environments including vocational, social, and community settings.
  3. Students will maintain or increase their levels of independence in areas that are applicable to the individual.
  4. Students will access and use resources, information and technology from a variety of sources within the community as independently as possible.
  5. Students will be afforded the opportunity to improve and/or maintain their health and wellness, including gaining skills that will improve their quality of life and allow them to pursue their personal goals.
  6. Students will be afforded the opportunity and support to enroll in higher education courses/programs.
  7.  Students will be afforded the opportunity and support to obtain job training, work experience, and/or employment.
Students will be able to demonstrate the following, depending on class selection:
  1. Improved skills in functional reading, writing, math and computer use.
  2. Access and use resources to increase independence, from transportation and community resources to college and career resources.
  3. Communication skills to facilitate interpersonal relationships, interactions in the community and self-advocacy.
  4. Problem solving skills to facilitate interpersonal relationships, interactions in the community and independence.
  5. Improved understanding of money concepts and money management.
  6. Consumer skills that allow for increased independence when shopping or making decisions in an independent living setting.
  7. Ability to plan and prepare a meal, including making a shopping list and preparing ingredients.
  8.  Listen to and follow instructions.
  9. Work independently or collaboratively to complete a task.
  10. Use decision-making skills.
  11. Develop interest in leisure time activities.
  12. Understand healthy living concepts such as fitness, stress-reduction, and nutrition.

Program Curriculum & Individual Training Services

The program embraces the concept that all adults have a right to an age-appropriate education, independence, community inclusion, respect, and personal choice. The program year is divided into four sessions and the classes offered within each session may vary depending on teacher availability and student interest. New classes may be added as students express a need or interest in them. Students choose which courses they wish to take each session.

A variety of adaptive classes provide students with the opportunity to learn new skills and increase their independence. The course outlines describe course goals, performance objectives, instructional strategies, training activities, and evaluation methods, and student learning outcomes. Students also have opportunities to enroll in post-secondary education and training and to obtain work experience and employment. 

The PGAE AWD curriculum is organized into four areas of training components, each with a variety of courses and activities:
Employment Readiness
  • College Preparation and College Enrollment
  • Career Exploration, Workforce Preparation, Vocational Skills/Job Training
  • Hospitality Pathway Training Program
  • Digital Literacy using Northstar Digital Literacy Program
  • Basic Literacy and Numeracy Skills
  • Communication Skills and other Employability Skills
  • Volunteering and Work Experience
  • Art
  • Sign Language
  • Volunteering
  • Community-building activities
Health and Wellness
  • Fitness and Yoga
  • Gardening
  • Nutrition
Independent Living Skills
  • Cooking
  • Shopping
  • Money
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Safety
  • Consumer Awareness
In addition to courses, PGAE AWD staff and instructors provide student support services, in collaboration with program partners. For example, the PGAE AWD College & Career Coach helps students enroll in Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) courses and obtain jobs at MPC, in partnership with MPC’s Access Resource Center and the MPC Work Experience Office. Students are provided other work experience opportunities, such as volunteering at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 
The College & Career Coach and staff also provide job training and preparation, such as helping students who choose to participate in the Hospitality Pathway Training Program obtain their Food Handler’s Licenses and learn culinary skills. According to students’ needs and interests, they may also be connected to the Department of Rehabilitation or the America’s Job Center of California (who are PGAE’s WIOA partners through the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act) for additional career services, including job training and employment.
The program also facilitates natural interactions and encourages relationships among individuals with and without disabilities in all environments. Natural supports develop effortlessly as individuals with disabilities become “regulars” on the PGAE campus and at community sites such as the Monterey Peninsula College, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the local library, etc. Students gain confidence and essential skills as they further integrate into the community.
PGAE AWD supports all participants in the Person-Centered Planning process (PCP) and in the development and implementation of an Individual Service Plan (ISP). Person-centered planning is implemented in the following ways:
  1. Goals and objectives are formulated with input from the students and their families or care providers to assist them in fulfilling their hopes, dreams, and personal goals.
  2. Participants are encouraged to work on self-determined goals and objectives with the support of family and staff.
  3. The specific training components are based on the goals and objectives chosen by each person. The program believes that each individual is unique with respect to interests, strengths, and needs. The program has developed a functional skills training curriculum that addresses the individual needs of each participant. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Training and use of functional community skills.
    • Accessing community resources.
    • Awareness of Community Safety Plan; Stranger Awareness and Street Safety training.
    • Healthy Living Plan, with a focus on physical self-care, and health and wellness education specific to the individual.
    • Community Contribution through work, which may include paid employment as well as community volunteer opportunities.
    • Self-Advocacy Skills, such as: Basic language and communication (speech, sign language, assistive devices); Decision-making; Motivation to communicate interests; Exercising personal choice to exert control over one's environment; Discussions of appropriate relationship interactions to avoid exploitation; and Opportunities for day-to-day activity planning.
    • Personal Growth support will offer opportunities and motivation for participants to explore different and new activities as well as provide options to participate in preferred activities. Cooking workshops, creative arts, modifiable physical activities are proposed ventures.
    • Community Integration, the awareness of community resources and access to them, are valued skills. Depending on student preferences and experiences, training may include use of public transportation, safety awareness, restaurant etiquette, setting up and keeping personal appointments, money management and purchasing. Students might enroll in a community course, volunteer for a nonprofit agency, shop at the local grocery store, cash a check at the bank or have lunch at a nearby restaurant. All destinations are designed to support and enrich the lives of students in the Pacific Grove Adult Education, Adults with Disabilities program.
    • Volunteer and employment training, as identified through the Person-Centered Planning process, students interested in working will be provided with opportunities to volunteer or pursue paid employment within their community. Support and training are provided to develop personal grooming, mobility, interpersonal skills, positive work ethics and other job-related skills.

Assessment Procedures and Tools

Students will enroll in courses based on their individual needs and goals. Each course will have defined learning objectives. Staff will assess students’ skills upon entry to identify each individual’s baseline knowledge and skills. On a weekly basis, staff will document each student’s participation and progress toward reaching the class goals. Staff will use both formal and informal tools to evaluate student progress.
Our program uses The CASAS (Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System).  This assessment is a tool to evaluate the academic skills of adult learners, including those with disabilities.  The CASAS provides accommodations to ensure fairness and accuracy in evaluation skills. Accommodations include:
  1. Extended time: Individuals with disabilities may require extra time to complete the assessment due to processing speed or other cognitive impairments.
  2. Alternative formats: CASAS assessments can be provided in alternative formats such as large print, Braille, or electronic text to accommodate individuals with visual impairments.
  3. Assistive technology: Test-takers with disabilities may use assistive technology devices or software to access and complete the assessment.
  4. Reader or scribe support: Individuals who have difficulty reading or writing due to disabilities may be provided with a reader or scribe to assist them during the assessment.
  5. Flexible scheduling: CASAS assessments may offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate individuals with disabilities who may require breaks or rest periods during the testing process.
  6. Accessibility features: CASAS assessments are designed with accessibility features such as adjustable font sizes, color contrast, and navigation options to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
The Brigance Transitions Curriculum is designed to support individuals with disabilities as they transition from school to adult life. The Transitions Curriculum focuses on various aspects of transition planning, such as vocational skills, independent living skills, social skills, and community integration. It aims to prepare adult students with disabilities for life in our community by providing them with the necessary skills and resources to achieve independence and success.
The curriculum includes a range of instructional materials, assessments, and activities tailored to the individual needs and goals of each student. It covers topics such as job readiness, money management, transportation, communication skills, and self-advocacy.
Using the Brigance Transitions Curriculum along with the CASAS assessment program helps to develop personalized transition plans for our students with disabilities, helping them build the skills and confidence they need to navigate the challenges of adulthood and achieve their full potential.