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Former President of Smart Start to Speak at Commencement

December 5, 2011

Karen W. Ponder, former president of Smart Start, will address the nearly 450 graduates during Averett University's Commencement Dec. 10 at 10:30 a.m. in the University's E. Stuart James Grant Convocation Center. Ponder is a private early childhood consultant and president of Ponder Early Childhood, Inc.

"We are pleased to welcome such a strong advocate for education as our December Commencement speaker," said Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks. "Karen Ponder's belief in the importance of education from birth through kindergarten is a living testament to our graduates that early education leads to a bolder future and a strong workforce."

Ponder has been involved in all aspects of early care and education, as a teacher, preschool director, board member, teacher trainer and policy maker. She serves on the Emerging Issues Scholars' Council at NC State University and is providing content for a public interactive policy space in the new James B. Hunt Jr. Library. She is also a member of the advisory boards for the McCormick-Tribune Center for Early Childhood Leadership and the Frank Porter Graham Executive Leadership Board. In addition, Governor Bev Perdue appointed her to serve on the North Carolina Early Childhood Advisory Council.

The former president of Smart Start, Ponder helped create and implement the program for nearly 15 years. During her presidency, Smart Start's National Technical Assistance Center was created. It assisted every state in the nation in some aspect of developing comprehensive early childhood efforts.