Joanne LigamariJoanne Ligamari and Robert Boehm Literacy Fund
Leading in Literacy
For as long as she can remember, Joanne Ligamari has had a steadfast love of reading, and that love led Joanne and her husband, Bob Boehm, to establish two funds in their estate plan at Placer Community Foundation (PCF) to help people of all ages further their literacy: the Joanne Ligamari and Robert Boehm Literacy Fund and the Joanne Ligamari and Robert Boehm Foundation.
As a child growing up in Poughkeepsie, New York, Joanne’s mother read to her and her two brothers often, and they also frequented the local library. She loved the library so much that she lied about her age in order to claim her very own library card, a mission proven effective. As an adolescent, she participated in reading clubs at the library and was even featured in the local newspaper for winning a reading award in sixth grade. Her library book club challenged her to read 17 books on a variety of subjects over summer break, and she and 21 other young academics successfully completed the task.
By the time Joanne was in high school, she realized not only did she love reading, but she loved helping others, too. When she learned about a local opportunity to volunteer with physically disabled students for a summer, she didn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand. The work she did later inspired her to become a special education teacher, and once she became a teacher, she never stopped. For 43 years, Joanne has dedicated her time to educating in a variety of capacities, from being a school teacher, tutor, to even your local librarian. She holds six teaching credentials, including her Master of Arts in education.
“I can’t imagine life without reading,” said Joanne. She explained that throughout her teachings, she has focused on literacy and developed her own curriculum at times to further engage her audience.
“When I was teaching, I taught magic,” she said. “When you teach the trick, they have to read. They have to develop patter and interact with their audience.” She explained that as part of learning magic tricks, she required the students to perform in front of their peers. In essence, the magic taught reading, comprehensive thinking (understanding the trick at hand), built confidence and showmanship (having to perform the trick) and furthered relationships (performing tricks with and for peers).
“I have kids who tell me they got free beer in college with the magic tricks they learned,” she joked. But jesting aside, Joanne has always been passionate about helping children and adults further their education by any means possible. One of the programs she ran was called “Readers’ Workshop,” in which the children picked out their own book—anything they wanted to read—and read it over the course of a month, choosing a new genre each month. She noted Mr. Underpants was especially popular. “Lots of kids liked him,” she said. She explained by allowing the children to pick their own books to read, opposed to reading only standardized curriculum, they were more likely to want to read and develop a future love of reading.
Sparking children’s interests in reading and learning came naturally to Joanne, and she accomplished the same success when helping adults. She previously taught adults to read through a Placer County program. In one example, every week over the course of a year, she volunteered her time to help a man who had gone his entire life unable to read. “He was the nicest man but couldn’t read. He wanted to read to his grandchildren,” said Joanne. By year’s end, the man went from being a non-reader to reading at roughly a fifth grade level.
Instances such as these confirm Joanne made the right decision to pursue teaching. This choice also led to meeting her future husband, Bob. While teaching at a regional special ed program in Connecticut, she worked with Bob’s sister, who introduced them. “His family was big readers,” she said. “When I met his family, we had dinner, and then everyone got out their books to read.” She fit in perfectly with his family and their love of reading.
It came as no surprise when Bob captured her heart and together they moved to California, where she continued her teaching career. In addition to sharing a love of reading, the duo also enjoy traveling, gardening, bicycling, and going to music festivals together. Joanne continues volunteering her time to help literacy programs prosper and also serves on the Library Board of Trustees at the Loomis Library, where she encourages everyone to obtain a library card. Now with their funds established at PCF as well, Joanne’s hard work to enlighten the minds of tomorrow will live on forever.
P.O. Box 9207
Auburn, California 65604