From struggling reader to Early Learning Professional: Lawonda White

Lawonda White first came to us in October of 2014 with goals of post-secondary education, employment, and supporting her child’s education. Lawonda has studied with tutors at the Community Literacy Center at First Presbyterian church and attended classes at the Reading Center at Goodwill. She also worked independently while enrolled in JOBS and Health Literacy classes. During the pandemic, she studied in our Virtual Learning Center, attended Parent Literacy Together classes, and helped form a Parent Coalition. Lawonda has grown from initially being self-conscious and nervous about her low literacy skills to blossoming into a fearless leader and empowered advocate.

In 2020, she was the recipient of the Mard Little Award for Adult Learner Excellence, which recognizes resilience and motivation in achieving learning goals. In 2021, she entered the Edison Early Childhood Education Career Pathway to improve her job skills and ultimately accepted a position with YWCA Kalamazoo as an Early Learning Professional. Lawonda, who always has her sights set on a new goal, earned her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential in 2022. “I have purpose now,” she warmly states. She was thrilled to show off her certificate to KLC/Goodwill Industries Early Learning Specialist Mike List, with whom she practiced diligently. “Mr. Mike” helped her organize her portfolio, study the manual, and take practice exams. “I am tremendously proud of her,” says Mr. Mike. “The kids that are in her class are lucky kids.” Lawonda has since been promoted to Program Coordinator and manages a team of 30 children, staff, and volunteers. Her next steps are to complete her associate degree in early childhood education and move forward toward her bachelor’s degree.