VoWac Publishing: Empowering Children Through Literacy Since 1983
1 Aug 2023
What started as a class assignment for Mary Gomer became an attainable program, and VoWac Publishing (VoWac) was founded in 1983. Since then, VoWac has become an international sensation helping children in four of the seven continents while maintaining its headquarters and humble beginnings in the City of Faulkton.
When Mary Gomer opened VoWac, she stated her one goal, “... to teach every child in the world to read. And I’ll do it one child at a time if I have to.” This goal generated VoWac’s slogan, Empowering Children Through Literacy. Gomer fulfilled her dream and VoWac’s promise for 30 years under her ownership. Today, VoWac continues Empowering Children Through Literacy under the ownership of John Pfeifer, who states, “Mary’s philosophy stuck with me from the beginning of my tenure with VoWac. It is a philosophy adhered to today.”
Pfeifer, a former educator and elementary principal, retired from the school system, yet his love for teaching didn’t waver. VoWac gave him an outlet to continue his mission of teaching children outside of the school system. He joined VoWac in 1997 as a minority owner with core duties being sales and customer relations. To date, Pfeifer and Gomer bi-annually meet to discuss reading and education. Pfeifer says, “Mary still remains a great inspiration.”
VoWac is a niche company, offering an Orton-Gillingham-based phonics and spelling curriculum for grades Pre-K through 4th. Serving schools across 40 states and abroad, VoWac has proven to be effective in teaching young people how to read. One of VoWac’s selling premises states, “If it wasn’t working, they wouldn’t buy it.” The spirit of VoWac is quite down-to-earth and confident. Pfeifer says, “We want you to compare VoWac’s offerings to anything you have available. If you can find something more effective, buy it!”
Given the state of today’s education system and its ability to produce the lowest reading scores, VoWac offers an easy fix, helping set the foundation during the primary grades that is locked in place by grades three and four. After that, Pfeifer says, “It’s up to the teachers in those upper grades to make sure students are using those skillsets across their entire curriculum. There really aren’t too many new skills past grade four.”
Much of the skillsets needed to be proficient are taught in VoWac’s most popular levels one and two programs. It is considered the meat and potatoes of the overall curriculum. If a child can master the content at levels one and two, the following skills in years to come will be easier. If a child is not on level two or above by the time they finish grade three, the chances of them catching up greatly decrease. VoWac’s levels one and two programs are VoWac’s approach to fixing an issue before it becomes a problem. Pfeifer says, “Playing catch-up with a child’s academic success is so much more difficult than just making sure they have the essential skills in the first place.”
VoWac and Faulkton
While Pfeifer’s not a Faulkton native, he’s lived in the Northwest and Midwest most of his adult life. When asked, “With the international success of VoWac, what made you stay in - what your About page calls - the sleepy little town of Faulkton?” Pfeifer answered, “Faulkton is a community that offers the essential goods and services without a lot of fanfare and horn-blowing. It’s under the radar. Having never been much for being around big cities and large crowds, Faulkton provides a comfort zone that lets me stay in the background and participate in the things I enjoy without much surrounding noise i.e., golf, gardening, books, and just good ol’ fashion time-wasting with friends and family.”
Pfeifer was unaware of the many incentives offered to new and existing businesses and entrepreneurs to help them succeed. However, Dacotah Bank’s Faulkton location helped him secure a low-interest loan for a smooth transition into full ownership. VoWac continued to be on the rise after Pfeifer’s purchase, causing him to pay off the loan in four short years.
A Personal Note from John Pfeifer
“I opted to keep VoWac in a comfort zone that helped maintain steady flow. We tend to grow a little bit each year which remains manageable. As I’m getting older, I have to believe there is an educator out there that would like to step away from the classroom or away from that administrative role and be willing to come on board as a manager. In doing so, it would be a choice opportunity for that person (or persons) to eventually own the entire company.
If there is someone in Faulkton that would have such a connection with another involved in education, they should steer him/her in my direction. VoWac is a turn-key business. An educational background, although not mandatory, would be extremely helpful. That kind of background lends itself to credibility when working with other teachers and administrators.
Publishing a curriculum that helps children learn how to read is very important. In addition to that, helping other teachers understand the processes of effective, best teaching practices becomes vital to our future. The children in our classrooms now will be the ones supporting our retirement programs in the future. I want them as capable and literate as possible. Given the fact that about 60% of our nation’s fourth graders tested well-below proficiency or not proficient at all, the idea of being literate becomes a pretty big deal. We’ve been getting children academically dressed for success since 1983. It’s what we do!” - John Pfeifer, owner of VoWac Publishing.
Faulkton Area Economic Development is Here to Help
Faulkton’s economy depends heavily on agriculture. Yet, it also embraces commodities of all industries. If you’re looking to start or expand your business in the quaint town, contact Faulkton Area Economic Development. Your new beginning is just a conversation away.