Educator Spotlight for Teacher Appreciation Week: Jill Ashley-Grochowski and Steve Hunt’s Experiences Piloting the CILIA-T Curriculum

CILIA-T, or “Content-Integrated Language Instruction for Adults with Technology Support”, is a full intermediate/advanced adult ELL curriculum that integrates U.S. history, civics and government content as well as digital skill-building. The curriculum, which is part of the CREATE Network, is completing its third year of development under a team including adult ELL and technology educators, literacy experts and content scholars. A draft of the CILIA-T curriculum is currently being piloted in four adult education classrooms by experienced teachers in Minnesota. Our team is learning so much about how our materials can benefit learners and support teachers by observing the pilot and consulting with our instructors! As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re spotlighting two of our fabulous pilot instructors, Jill Ashley-Grochowski and Steve Hunt!

Please share a little information about yourself, your background and experience, especially in adult education.

Headshot of Jill Ashley-Grochowski

Jill Ashley-Grochowski: "This is my 3rd year teaching Adult ELL. I have been a teacher (mostly K-12) for many years, as well as a building and district administrator. My passions during my career have been equity and access/success in Higher Education. I have enjoyed being a SEED facilitator [Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity, a professional development initiative that facilitates reflection and systemic change within organizations] and an AVID consultant and staff developer [Advancement Via Individual Determination, an educator training program that supports schools in preparing students for college and careers]. I have a BA from Cornell College, and my MA and EdS are from the University of St Thomas. I have 2 grown sons, and I live with my husband and my daughter, and our two cocker spaniels. We foster dogs for Underdog Rescue."

Steve Hunt: “23 years working in adult education. I have worked at numerous sites but now I work at Adult Options in Hopkins. I have some college experience, too, and have taught abroad in several countries in the summer."

From your perspective as an experienced teacher, what STRENGTHS of the CILIA-T curriculum have you observed in your pilot experience thus far?

Jill: “I enjoy being able to teach English through civics. I like the structure of the modules. The technology pieces are woven into the curriculum and that is something I have not experienced in a curriculum before. I like it! My students are interested in the topics, and find them relevant to their lives.”

Steve: “It is a good introduction to American government and civics. Students seem engaged and interested.”

From your perspective as an experienced teacher, what CHALLENGES of the CILIA-T curriculum have you observed in your pilot experience thus far?

Headshot of Steve Hunt

Jill: “My students miss listening and dictation activities. Teaching the technology pieces is time consuming. I would like some supplemental texts that are at a higher level, and also more new vocabulary for my Level 6 students. My students are ready for some new information by the second half of the module. I wish we had more time before the end of the year so that I could focus on CILIA-T a couple of days a week.”

Steve: “Attendance is always an issue. Students entering and exiting the program. Some technology issues too and matching curriculum rigor with appropriate student level."

Can you share any examples of how students have responded to certain themes, topics or activities?

Jill: “They liked discussing different forms of government. They really enjoy the collaborative activities; anything with discussion, and anything that they can apply to their own lives and experiences.”

Steve: “Good group discussions and comparisons to native countries are interesting.”

If you were developing such an integrated curriculum, how would you do it?

Jill: “I like how the CILIA- T curriculum was designed. My students don't have homework, so I would structure the modules so that the Google forms, WhatsApp responses, and emails were more evenly dispersed throughout the module, maybe as openers and closers to the lesson. I love to use primary sources. My students also love grammar, so I might add in more of that.”

Steve: “Similar. I may have more online links and design for hybrid classes.”

Do you have any other comments/feedback to share with people following our project?

Jill: “It has been a great experience!”

Thanks, Jill and Steve! CILIA-T will complete its initial classroom pilot in June and the project team is grateful beyond measure for the feedback shared and flexibility shown by our participating teachers and learners. Our next steps include incorporating feedback to streamline CILIA-T materials and provide more targeted support to instructors, followed by another full classroom pilot in winter 2025. We’ll keep you posted with updates on our website!

Contact Erin Cary ( or Aydin Durgunoglu ( to learn more.