Dr. William Edwards is pictured during a 2013 trip to Sierra Leone.

Dr. William Edwards is pictured during a 2013 trip to Sierra Leone.

Dr. William Edwards, a teacher education professor, will be honored with the Outstanding Volunteer, Service and Dedication Award during the International Reading Association’s 59th annual conference on May 8 in New Orleans, La.

Since 2007, Edwards has represented the association on multiple visits to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mauritius and, most recently, Sierra Leone. Edwards typically visits a country at the beginning of a grant period and assesses the educational capacity in the grant service area.

Educational strengths and weaknesses are noted as well as the physical buildings, water pumps and other factors relative to the local community. He then provides written observations and recommendations for other IRA volunteers, including a brief history of the country, the history of the educational system, vestiges of any former colonial practices as well as traveler safety tips. Also included is information on the currency, exchange rates, appropriate clothing, personal safety concerns and any food and water safety issues.

Edwards also has a teaching role as the grant projects evolve through their life cycles. In his most recent project in Sierra Leone, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food for Education grant, he and teacher education faculty member Jeanie Cozens facilitated a multiday workshop to provide government college lecturers with instructional strategies and methods to assess their literacy instruction.