We are thrilled to welcome Deniese Yelverton to the R2S team for the 2023-2024 school year. As our new Duke NC LiteracyCorps member, Deniese will support all of R2S' community-powered literacy programs, including early childhood, elementary tutoring, and community/family engagement.
Learn a little bit more about Deniese in our fun Q&A below:
What role has reading played in your life?
I read everyday, so I’d have to say that it’s played quite a large role. On a serious note, though, I think that reading allowed me to dream a little bit bigger. Of course, I must give credit to my family for this too; reading definitely opened another door of possibilities for me.
There’s a series by the name of The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes. It’s by Anne Mazer. In one of the books, the main character, Abby, gets a chance to go to Paris one summer. I remember reading that book and being so determined to go to Paris one day. I can remember the desire to want to see the Eiffel Tower and wanting to go see all of the cafes that are lined up on the street. I think that reading helped me to find my interest.
What was your favorite book as a child? What is your favorite book now (if it changed!)
I’m only 21, so I wasn’t a child that long ago, but my favorite books to read when I was little were the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne. I remember when my 2nd-grade teacher first introduced the books to me. The whole concept of finding a magical treehouse that could send you back to any period in time was so fascinating to me.
I think my taste in books has grown to be a bit more refined, but not by too much because I still enjoy a good adventure/fantasy novel, which are themes that can still be seen in my current favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Now, The Alchemist is already a very popular book that has sort of a mixed bag of reviews, so I definitely don’t want to be a part of the group that overhypes it in the case that you haven’t gotten to read it yet, but I think that it’s an amazing book to read if you need motivation or you need a reminder to do/try whatever speaks to your heart.
What are you most looking forward to at R2S?
I find questions like this particularly hard to answer because I feel like there are many layers to it. If you want a short answer, I can say that I love working with little kids. It’s what I’m familiar with, and it’s something that I’ve been doing since I was at least 14 years old, so being able to not only work with them again but to be able to help them begin how to do something that will carry them throughout life is amazing.
On the other hand, though, as cliche as it might sound, I’m just looking forward to everything. Having the opportunity to be able to grow and learn with the amazing staff at R2S, I think that my professional development in the next year will be substantial.
Where does your passion come from?
My desire to help people. I’ve always liked helping people and finding ways to be of use to others. Whether that’s through merely giving advice or through more direct ways, I can’t say that I particularly have a preference so long as the outcome is the same. I do have a soft spot for children, though, because they’re constantly learning so much, not just in school settings, but about themselves and how to handle various new emotions and environments.
I think that oftentimes people forget about how many new things kids are being tasked to figure out/cope with, so if I’m able to do anything to alleviate any type of stress on them or if I can find a way to make something that seems strenuous a little more fun for them then I’d love to do that. All kids deserve the right to a fun and supportive environment that enables them to grow.
Give us a glimpse at your life off the clock?
My life off the clock, in all honesty, might be a little boring. I like making small things with clay, like trinket dishes and mini animal sculptures, but I’m trying to branch out to make bigger things. I’ve recently started trying to get into pottery, so I’ve been looking around at different classes, but we’ll see how that goes. I feel like the rest of my time is spent planning trips because I love traveling. I probably have at least six different google documents that are just full of itineraries. I’m currently planning a trip in February to a ski resort because I’ve always wanted to go snowboarding. Truthfully, I’ve actually always wanted to go surfing, but snowboarding will do for now.
I like going on walks. I moved recently, and I happened to move into an area that has a nice 5-mile trail. Now, will I walk the 5 miles in its entirety? Probably not, but I can still probably be found walking the trail at some point because I love being outside. Aside from that, you can definitely find me sitting on my couch and watching a good Kdrama.
What are some of your favorite things about Asheville?
I hate to sound like the average person, but I must say that I have thoroughly been enjoying the mountains. My mom and I have been planning to drive through the entirety of the Blue Ridge mountains for the past year now, but so far, we’ve only managed to make it halfway through. We either get deterred by the sheer length of the trek, or we just pull over at one of the lookouts and have a picnic.
Something else that I like about Asheville that might be a little less stereotypical is the diversity here. I’m from a rural town on the eastern side of NC, so there’s not that much diversity at all. From what I’d previously heard about Asheville, I was expecting the same thing, but to my surprise, this is actually a relatively diverse city, and I love that. The botanical gardens are also something that I enjoy. I love botanical gardens and greenery so much. The arboretum here is so beautiful. As a lover of bonsais, the bonsai section in the arboretum alone makes me giddy.
Meet Ashley Allen | Read 2 Succeed's New Co-Executive Director
Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) is a local, independent nonprofit on a mission to help close the