“With two decades in the U.S. Marine Corps and graduate studies in human resource management, Robert C. Freeman started his new year with a new challenge — career pathway coordinator for Gila County Adult Educational Services. This new job seems uniquely suited to a man whose extensive resumé spans the planet — notably, career development and education manager for U.S. embassies in Harare, Zimbabwe and Bangkok, Thailand. Even with advanced degrees, he’s a student, too.
“I feel privileged to be the first career pathway coordinator for Gila County and working for School Superintendent Roy Sandoval’s Adult Educational Services,” said Freeman.
“And while our staff may be best known for helping students attain high school equivalency certificate (GED) degrees, there’s so much more to Adult Educational Services. We’re also here to assist students with the next steps in training and finding employment.”
Freeman has already met Rim Country adults who report they lack the skills needed for productive work and growth in their employment and some lament that the spread of new technology across the workplace requires more specialized training than a K-12 education provides.
Passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act allowed states to fund basic education and training skills and to create innovative adult education liaison positions — which brought Freeman to Payson.
Relocating to Rim Country has allowed him to pursue a few of his favorite outdoor activities (running, hiking, golf) in between visits to his son, a police officer in Kingman, and a daughter in Oklahoma.
“There is a great need for Adult Educational Services, and for this new position — students are unique, and a traditional education system is not a good fit for absolutely everyone. By partnering with other services within the community, we assist by providing information to adult learners, with or without a GED. Our goal is to educate and train anyone who has encountered barriers to completing their education or training.
“For example, one of our Adult Educational Services students earned his GED through our program and now is attending Gila Community College. We’re coaching him toward transition to a four-year college, assisting with the steps and process he’ll need to compete. Our adult education programs open the awareness of continuing education and training available to Gila County residents who may have found barriers in their path — those who don’t know how to take their next steps, or what services the community offers to help. And my job doesn’t end with placement — I’ll continue tracking the students’ progress for a year — assisting them as they identify job interests, helping arrange training, coaching students to prepare a great resumé, mentoring students to help them develop solid interview skills, and more.”
Enrollees who’ve met Freeman over the past few months agree he’s a role model for continuing education, with his own bachelor’s degree in social psychology, followed by a master’s degree in human resource management, he’s currently pursuing a doctorate in general psychology, with an emphasis in industrial and organizational psychology.
Before bringing his talents to Gila County he worked at Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Rehabilitation and Employment Department.
“I’ve conducted intensive case management with disabled veterans to overcome work barriers. Additionally, I’ve outreached to homeless shelters, workshops and was part of the Veteran Resource Team for Vet-Court.”
One former role included being the corporate education manager for Mohave Community College, as well as being a college recruiter. Freeman has an immediate rapport with clients who arrive at Adult Educational Services with a background of military service.
A prior job as work-family life consultant found him assisting veterans and spouses as they transitioned from military life into the civilian workforce, a role he experienced firsthand.
“Most of my life was spent in the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Freeman. “For more than 20 years my jobs expanded from an operation and training chief for Naval Base Engineering Battalion (Seabee’s), Camp Pendleton Base, and Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego. While serving my country, I also served as a Marine recruiter, primary marksmanship instructor, and infantry battalion platoon sergeant. Serving in the Corps also brought opportunities to work for U.S. embassies in Harare, Zimbabwe and also Bangkok, Thailand, where my additional duties were career development and education manager.”
Freeman’s goals for the next few months include creating more awareness of Adult Educational Services and integrating the technology plan in the county’s adult education services pilot class.
Gila County Adult Educational Services provides free classes for adults, including distance learning. Classes are offered in Globe and Payson.
AES also partners with Rim Country Literacy Center in Payson, which offers the English Language Acquisition for adults. Additionally, GED Pearson VUE Testing Centers are located in both Globe and Payson.
“Every student is unique; some thrive with instruction group; others prefer a one-on-one approach. We offer both, based on each student’s individual needs.”
To learn more
Visit the Payson office at 1100 N. Beeline Highway, Suite G or call Robert Freeman at 928-472-5284 or check out gilacountyaz.gov/government/school_superintendent/ged_information.php.