Michelle Tate-Martin, M.Ed.
Founder & Executive Director
In August 2001, Michelle closed the chapters to 10 years as a Florida state government professional in Tallahassee, Florida and to four years as a Hillsborough County Public Schools Adult Educator in Tampa, Florida. Today, she pursues grassroots adult literacy as her higher calling and her contribution to the legacy of civil rights. Michelle began her professional career as a Florida A&M University journalism intern student in former Governor Bob Graham’s Press Office in 1984. After completing her Bachelors degree in 1985, she worked as a legislative aide for two legislators in the Florida House of Representatives. She later worked as an information specialist for the Florida Department of Natural Resources. In 1990, Michelle was hired by Education Commissioner Betty Castor to serve as her senior management analyst at the Florida Department of Education. She managed the commissioner’s correspondence, wrote speeches, and served as editor of the department’s weekly, statewide newsletter. She was later promoted as public information officer for Vocational, Adult and Community Education. Michelle served on several education policy committees including the school improvement and accountability coordinating committee after the passage of the Florida School Improvement Law. She was recognized with two special achievement awards, certificates of appreciation, and an Excellence Through Teamwork award. Michelle received a graduate fellowship from the Florida DOE Adult Education Department to obtain a masters degree in adult education administration.
Community-Based Adult Education Journey
Michelle relocated to Tampa, Florida in September 1996 to pursue a doctorate degree in Adult Education at the University of South Florida. She postponed her graduate degree goal. Michelle was inspired by her volunteer service as a tutor at a Hillsborough County Public Schools' community-based adult learning center. The Adult Education Director offered Michelle a position as an Adult Literacy Instructor. She was promoted to serve as a Family Literacy Instructor following training at the National Center for Family Literacy. She later resigned the position to obtain a second masters degree in teaching English. She returned to the school district in 1999 to teach English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). That year, she was awarded the 1999-2000 Outstanding Adult Education Rookie Teacher of the Year. Michelle was assigned to another adult learning center to restructure the Adult Basic Education/GED/ESOL learning programs, as well as to teach and manage the computer-based learning center. The successful changes Michelle implemented at the learning center created a student enrollment waiting list for the literacy services.
Community-Based Literacy Mission
Michelle was later promoted to develop, manage and teach in the school district’s first reading literacy computer lab for adult nonreaders. She eventually resigned the school district position when given the opportunity to teach at the college level. Michelle taught English and advance writing at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa. In her free time at home, she tutored a few former reading literacy students. Inspired by her students and a higher calling, Michelle designed a comprehensive, education program for adults and teens with special learning needs. She developed the organization structure and education plan to establish a nonprofit, 501 (C)(3), community-based organization entitled I CAN! Adult Literacy Outreach Program, Inc. which became incorporated in February 2002. The organization has since grown, and the name changed to: I CAN! Community Education Coalition, Inc. Michelle created intensive reading literacy, basic education, GED and workforce & life skills learning programs. As executive director and grant writer, she secured over $400,000 in grants including a $200,000 contract with Hillsborough County Public Schools to provide intensive GED instruction for at-risk youth. Since 2003, the literacy services have been educating adults with the support of board members, community organization and social service agency partners, volunteer tutors, instructors, and college intern students. Financial donors include: Publix Supermarket Charities, Wal*Mart, Dollar General, Bank of America, Regions Bank, Scripps Howard, Women Helping Others (WHO), and Verizon foundations. Michelle has expanded her literacy activism by accepting a number of opportunities over the past several years to develop adult learning programs and write grants for community and faith-based organizations in Tampa as well as work as an education coordinator for GED and adult basic education projects. She continues to teach English Composition at the college level while managing I CAN organization and education services.
Education and Personal Background
Michelle has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Journalism and a Masters Degree in Adult Education Administration from Florida A&M University. She also completed the Masters in Teaching English Program at the School for International Training Graduate Institute in Vermont. Her international teaching internship was at a college in Port Elizabeth, South Africa where she taught English for Academic Purposes. Michelle has been living in Florida since 1980. She is a native of Washington D.C., and a proud graduate of Frank W. Ballou High School. Michelle's family is in Washington where she states is always home.