June 4, 2012 5:43 AM
When Tulane alumna Devon Ponoroff accepted a job to lead the For The Children reading-assistance program, she sought advice from the woman who created it almost 18 years earlier — her mother.
“Her advice to me was to remember that it’s about the children,” says Devon. “It’s always about the children and bringing people together.”
Before moving from New Orleans in 2009, Devon’s mother and For The Children founder Monica Ponoroff collaborated with Tulane to incorporate the program into its Center for Public Service. This partnership would ensure the program’s longevity and provide a steady flow of Tulane student volunteers to help keep it running.
Having worked as a volunteer with the program for many years, after graduating in 2008 Devon took a part-time position with the program. In 2010, she seized the opportunity to apply for the senior program coordinator position to manage volunteers who work with students as reading buddies, tutors and classroom assistants at two uptown elementary schools.
“Between our two schools, Benjamin Banneker Elementary and Sophie B. Wright Charter School, approximately 500 students between pre-kindergarten and eighth grade have volunteers assigned to work with them one-on-one,” says Devon. For The Children touches all of the nearly 1,000 students at the schools through classroom assistance and through individual help when requested by teachers.
During the spring semester, there were 241 volunteers — including service-learning students, community members, work study students and interns — who worked with the elementary students during the regular school day.
“For The Children promotes involving the resources of a major university and the community-at-large to improve the lives and academic potential of our Orleans Parish school children,” says Devon. “It also promotes diversity and good citizenship within our community.”
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