Volunteer of the Month: Ivana Espinet

The P.S. 9 mother of three does everything from grant writing to sewing to teaching computer skills to parents at the Underhill Avenue school.

When Ivana Espinet enrolled her son at P.S. 9 two years ago, she knew she wanted to do what she could to improve the school.

Since then, she’s devoted roughly 10 hours a week to the Underhill Avenue elementary school, writing grants for new equipment and books, serving on the school’s leadership team and conducting classes for teachers on how to use “smart boards” and for parents to learn basic computer skills.

The mother of three, who hails from Argentina, has helped set up a garden where students can grow flowers in the spring and worked with other parents to institute a Spanish-English dual language program. She has also secured grants for everything from $1,000 for a teacher’s trout-in-the-classroom program to $4,500 for tables and chairs for an “outdoor classroom” to allow students to do some of their learning outside.

Plus she helps out with special projects in her 6 and 4-year-old sons’ classrooms, such as sewing together a quilt made by the students.

“I’ve worked in education all my life and I feel that the only to make a community work is if everyone participates and does whatever they can,” Espinet said.

For Espinet, who is getting a Ph.D. in urban education at CUNY and also is a consultant at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Center for Technology, the volunteering is based on a strongly held philosophy that schools are linchpins that can either bring a neighborhood up or pull it down.

“I think she sees schools’ missions as not just about teaching individual kids but as anchors for the whole community,” said her husband, Bryce Taylor, who does his share of P.S. 9 volunteering as well.

“Part of it, immediately, it’s about our children. But she also recognizes that if the school is better it helps the whole neighborhood,” he added. 

And the strongly held belief has really made a difference at 80 Underhill Avenue, said Charmaine Derrell-Jacob, P.S. 9’s parent coordinator.

“Pretty much she has touched every single facet of helping us improving our school,” she said. “She is not single-minded about her nuclear family and her child’s grade. She’s looking out for the entire school body.”


Know a Prospect Heights volunteer who deserves recognition? E-mail Amy.Clark@patch.com.

bkk_bklyn February 17, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Well-deserved recognition! Bravo! Thank you, Ivana, for all that you do - you are an inspiration! -PS9 mom (dual-language program)
cynthia February 17, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Ivana's thoughtful and selfless commitment to PS 9 has inspired me to get involved. She is a positive force at the school and I feel lucky to be a part of the community she has done so much to nurture. Thank you, Ivana.
Adam Rabiner February 19, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Kudos Ivana.
Sandra D'Avilar February 21, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Ivana is one of the most selfless parents I know. We are truly blessed to have her as part of our school family. She stops at nothing to assist me in making our school a place of realized potential. Thanks for ALL you do Ivana. Principal D'Avilar
Arlene April 19, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Ivana and I work closely together as classroom parents at PS9 and I am so in awe of her... she is the epitome of team work and an inspiration to make a huge difference in how our children lean and for parents to be involved in every step of learning. Her dedication is admirable. On behalf of Ms. Marshall's classroom I can truly say Ivana, you are indeed a blessing. AWT (classroom parent)


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