Dr. Marjean Buckner formally entered the adult education field in 1992 when she left her nursing career to join the faculty of the Miami Palmetto Adult Education Center. She developed and taught the curriculum for diverse groups of adult students including those with a low level of primary education, those with limited English or who are non-English speakers, and those with physical needs. Buckner also created a program and developed the curricula to teach language and other skills to hotel workers in the burgeoning south Florida tourism industry to remove impediments to their upward mobility. She took this program out of the school and to the hotels where her students worked to ensure greater impact and follow-through. In 2000, Buckner was recognized by Miami-Dade Public Schools for having taught the class with the largest pass rate, to date, on the GED. In each instance, her teaching influenced the curriculum and ensured it was meeting the learning needs of the students for whom she had designed it.
Buckner is known for her leadership involvement at national levels in two large adult education organizations. She was president of the Coalition of Lifelong Learning Organizations (COLLO), focusing on expanding adult education beyond the borders of the United States. Under her leadership, COLLO completed articles of incorporation and conducted programs and conferences addressing adult learners’ needs. Additionally, she was highly involved in the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE), starting out as the board chair, then as a board member for the AAACE’s adult education special interest groups, and eventually becoming president of the organization. As the president of AAACE, one of her primary goals was to ensure the long-term viability and stability of the group.
Perhaps Buckner’s greatest contribution to the field of adult education is the nurturing of the relationship between AAACE, its international members, and other domestic and international adult education organizations. By developing a partnership between AAACE and other organizations to promote collaboration nationally and internationally, Buckner has led the AAACE’s international unit, the Commission on International Adult Education (CIAE), to be a thriving and robust entity. CIAE facilitated several partnership agreements including Adult Learning Australia, the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education of Britain, the University of Bamberg in Germany, and the University College of Cork in Ireland.
In addition to her work in adult higher education, her volunteer work plays an integral part in her life. She has served on the boards of the American Lung Association and Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies. She helped obtain passage of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act and promoted school-based health clinics in the Florida Legislature. She worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, setting up programs to combat the spread of AIDS through education. Buckner serves as an exemplary model of one who desires to educate learners from all walks of life across the globe.
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