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September Volunteer of the Month

Reported by on 9/19/13

When Terri Hancock launched the Paws for Tales reading program in 2009 at the Naperville Area Humane Society, she hoped it would have the power to change lives. In 2012, Hancock and her dog, Cisco, brought the program to Crone Middle School to help students with special needs improve their social and academic skills. For her efforts, she is being recognized as the District 204 BMO Harris Bank Volunteer of the Month.

“I have enjoyed every moment of working with the students at Crone,” Hancock said. “Watching their faces light up when they see Cisco is priceless.”

Three years ago, Cisco was awaiting adoption at the shelter when Hancock, who is the Humane Education Manager at NAHS, got to know him. With his calm demeanor and patient disposition, she thought he would be a perfect match for the Paws for Tales reading program. Not only the children loved him, but she did, too, and adopted him.

Cisco is also the reason that Hancock learned about Crone. She and her neighbor, Beth Kinane, who is a special education teacher at the school, met while walking their dogs.

“I had mentioned the fact that I do the Paws for Tales program in schools with Cisco,” Hancock said.

The school wanted to develop a program that would help special needs students work on their social skills, while improving their academic skills. Kinane thought Paws for Tales would be a great fit at Crone and received the approval from Principal Allan Davenport.

The Paws for Tales program uses books that encourage children to treat others, both people and animals, with respect and kindness. The students feel more comfortable reading aloud to a calm dog, knowing that the canine will never judge their skills. During the sessions at Crone, students read to Cisco, talk to him and sometimes just hug him.

“The human/animal bond is very powerful and I saw positive effects at the first session,” Hancock said. “Seeing the joy in their eyes and the love they shared with my dog is the reason I do what I do.”

BMO Harris Bank is helping District 204 recognize one volunteer each month who has generously given his or her time to support District 204’s students and schools. To celebrate these outstanding volunteers, BMO Harris Bank is donating $1,000 to the volunteer's school. To nominate an outstanding volunteer, visit

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