February 17, 2018

Vonda Ward | Movers & Shakers 2004


Creating Readers


When Vonda Ward was a middle-school teacher, she couldn’t get her students to share her excitement about history because they couldn’t read its stories. That’s when she realized how much subject mastery depended on the basics.

Broward County Library’s leaders were also interested in teaching basic literacy. Ward, who grew up in a community that had no libraries, had a gut-level understanding of people’s potential to improve their lives. She jumped at the chance to become the library’s Learning Games Coordinator.

Ward developed basic skills with learning games based on children’s books and presented them in after-school programs. At the same time, she began to teach adult students to read and write and to train volunteer tutors as well. Library administrators recognized Ward’s energy, organizational skills, and ability to inspire others and promoted her to coordinator of the Each One Teach One adult literacy program. A certified Laubach Literacy trainer, Ward instructed library staff and volunteers in the Laubach method.

When she discovered the PBS telecourse ‘Crossroads Café,’ designed to teach English to speakers of other languages, Ward arranged for the Department of Education to sponsor the program at the library. She trained 30 volunteers, who have in turn worked with over 500 students. Many have gone on to attend the library’s English Café and English conversation class.

Now, the library’s Literacy Coordinator, Ward extends the reach of these programs through work with business leaders and community organizations. She’s active in the Literacy Coalition of Broward County, whose director, Nancy Paul, praises Ward for showing her ‘that teaching adults is different from teaching childrenâ?¦and about working with a population that had a large percentage of people living in poverty or with learning disabilities.’

Ward describes herself as a ‘woman who has big dreams and makes every effort to stretch beyond normal expectations.’ That she’s able to do this in a library gives her extra pleasure, because she believes that ‘if you teach a person to read in the library, you create a lifetime library user.’




Current Position: Literacy Coordinator, Broward County Library, African-American Research Library and Cultural Center
Education: B.S. Journalism/ Public Relations, Florida A&M University, 1987
Recent accomplishments : Learned to drive a stick shift and to jet ski