Ryan Sparks

Books as Bridges Program Coordinator/VISTA


Ryan is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving International Book Project as a member of The Plantory Network. Ryan grew up in Eastern Kentucky and earned his Bachelor of Arts in English Education at Morehead State University. After becoming TEFL and TESOL certified, Ryan then taught English online for a year before working as an English instructor at Magoffin County High School. Hoping to hone his skills in a way that allowed him to share his passion for literature with others, Ryan continued his education, earning a Master of Arts in Literature at New Mexico State University. While there, Ryan’s primary area of research concerned modern, postmodern, and contemporary literature as understood from the critical perspectives of intersectionality, phenomenology, narrative, and metanarrative. As a teaching assistant, he also taught 100-level English courses on Rhetoric and Composition and 200-level English courses on Intersectionality as it relates to Language, Power, and Identity. As an Americorp VISTA serving International Book Project, Ryan coordinates the Books as Bridges program, a program that seeks to increase literacy and cultural awareness in Kentucky by establishing and maintaining global partnerships. Matching students in Kentucky with those around the world according to age and skill level, the program utilizes lessons taught from an intersectional perspective and works to increase student access to books and other materials that encourage literacy. Outreach takes many forms, but the program gives students the opportunity to exchange three letters with a pen-pal from another country and also invites schools to take part in creating and completing a service-learning project. In his free time, Ryan enjoys reading, writing, biking, yoga, and playing music. He also loves his cats, Fluff and Savage, very much.