Program Report: Robyn Fehrman – TeachforAmerica

Robyn Fehrman, Executive Director of  TeachForAmerica of Eastern North Carolina, told the club of the exciting and innovative ways the corps’ teachers and alumni are serving as agents of change.  A native of western North Carolina, Robyn graduated from UNC-CH.  Prior to her current position she was community program officer at the Triangle Community Foundation.  She joined TFA in the summer of 2011. Robert Orr, who introduced Robyn, wryly noted that she is his boss.

I took away from her talk that the core value of TeachForAmerica is “No child should suffer educational inequity.” That, she decried as a “massive injustice.”  Robyn painted a grim picture of education in her chapter’s service area although there are a handful of bright spots.  Having grown up in that part of the state, I can testify that the rural counties to the east of Durham especially after you cross I-95 are blighted.  Studies show that only 50 percent of low income students—of which there are over 48,000 in northeastern North Carolina—graduate from high school although 60 percent of available jobs require education or skills beyond high school.

TeachForAmerica recruits talented, committed people who agree to teach for two years in a disadvantaged school.  Currently, there are 158 corps members in eastern NC, of whom 28 are working in Durham which has been a partner for the last two years.  Additionally, there are more than 400 TFA alumni living in this district, some of whom are serving as principals or in other educational leadership capacities.  According to her handout, many TFA corps members are recruited from Duke and UNC-CH; they come from a pool of bright students (3.6 gpa) of whom 100 percent have college leadership experience. [Read more…]

Reading Rangers Update – The Posse Grows!

Howdy Buckaroos, we have been on the Literacy Trail for a little while and thought it would be a good time to update you on our progress.  What a great ride we have had so far!  Dr. Lewis Ferebee spoke to our club and challenged us to make a difference in 20 children.   As of 30 October, we have 33 Rangers signed up and YE Smith Elementary school reports that we have already touched 80 children!  We have a particular focus on 12 students who need consistent assistance.  We would like to bump up this number. Of our 33 Rangers, all but one are Rotarians; one Ranger is from Duke Corporate Education. We are presenting to other individuals and groups as well to increase the number and awareness of the program to the wider community.    Every week more Rangers come on board.  Some Rangers have been working in a tag team fashion where two Rotarians alternate weeks.  This reduces the burden on each Ranger and yet provides consistency for the children.  The only down side is the overall reduction in the number of students receiving assistance.

Y.E Smith is extremely well run and thrilled to have the involvement of Rotary’s Reading Rangers.  Rangers check in and are initially escorted to the classrooms where the teachers are ready with materials for the Rangers to work on.   We work on literacy skills, especially reading, but sometimes we may be asked to assist with other things such as math.  The need is driven by the student and the teacher.

Currently, Rangers tend to volunteer on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, which is wonderful!  We would like to encourage new Rangers to help complete the week with more visits on Monday and Thursday.  This would give the students consistency and focus throughout the week, and should help the students make the greatest strides.   Given that many of these children do not have positive male role models, male Rotary Reading Rangers are encouraged; however, we want as many Rangers as possible.  Of our 33 Rangers, 45% are male.

We were treated to onsite training by the staff of YE Smith.  They covered some key principles and encouraged Rangers to encourage comprehension with reviews or materials read.  Rangers need to remind students to “think about thinking”, when they read.  An additional training opportunity will be conducted by the school near the end of November.  Tentatively we are considering 29 November at 4:30 PM at YE Smith.  The School wishes to share the Depth of Knowledge part of the Common Core Curriculum so the Rangers can reinforce the vocabulary the school uses when working with the students.

Finally, Y.E. Smith has a program that they call “Friday Clubs”.  These are held Friday afternoon to allow outsiders to share experiences, hobbies, or interests with the students.  If you have a passion, or would simply like to be a guest presenter at one of the Friday Club events, just let Todd Taylor know.

We have been published!  Check out these links:

http://www.durhamvoice.org/rotarians-don-reading-caps-to-promote-literacy/#more-9014

http://durhamrotaryclub.org/2012/08/reading-rangers/

We are encouraged by the efforts of our Ranger Posse.  Thanks to all for making such a difference.

Yee-haw keep moving along the Literacy Trail.

Submitted by Todd Taylor

Program Report: Dr. Frank Neelon

A Candle for the Path: How Poems can illuminate the Doctor’s Job

Inspired by Dr. Frank Neelon’s spellbinding presentation on poetry’s ability to aid in, of all things, weight loss, I thought I’d give it a shot. Here goes…

Bacon is red

Pinot is too

I should lose weight

On the other hand, bacon

I think I’m doing it wrong. But seriously, folks, I shouldn’t be flip about my own health or that of our fattening society. It’s a real problem, of course, and an imminently preventable one. Something Dr. Neelon said at the outset of his talk rang true: Medicine has taught us nearly all it’s going to about preventing obesity and its attendant health crises. Eat right. Eat less. Exercise more. Everyone knows that, but many – including yours truly – find it difficult to actually follow through with those simple steps. Which is where poetry comes in. Dr. Neelon has used select poems to motivate, encourage and comfort his patients at the Durham-based Rice Diet Program, where he’s worked for 15 years.

He mesmerized us with from-memory recitations of four poems that, while varied in theme and tone, contained a common message: be patient, steadfast and, yes, joyful. Dr. Neelon noted that the word “diet” is from the Greek for “way of life.” Thought of in those terms, it’d be odd, Dr. Neelon observed, “to say, ‘I’m going on a four-week way of life.’”

I particularly liked “Ithaca” by Constantine Cavafy and “Postscript” by Seamus Heaney.

From “Ithaca”:

When you set out for Ithaca

ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction …

Have Ithaca always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don’t in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years…

From “Postscript”:

You are neither here nor there,

A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

It really was powerful stuff, and I believe many of us left inspired to live better, to smell the roses and skip the bacon.

– submitted by Matt Dees

Program Reports: Dr. Paul Feldman – GlaxoSmithKline & Drug Discovery

Dr. Paul Feldman has lectured and published extensively across the global pharmaceutical industry.  As a senior vice president at GlaxoSmithKline’s RTP campus and site head, a spotlight comes with the turf.  But he conceded to being “especially nervous” after President Don introduced him as featured speaker at this week’s luncheon.  The Durham Rotary event, Feldman said, was the first time that his mother had seen him speak in public.  She was one of several guests presented by members at a nearly packed house.

At the end of Feldman’s presentation, both mom and club had a keen understanding of the enormous risks, challenges and opportunities facing GSK and the entire industry, and an equally keen understanding of the ways the industry improves life for people across the globe.

Locally, with more than 4,000 people employed, many of the company’s people are working in projects and partnerships aimed at improving education and health, as well as bolstering arts and culture and community affairs.  “We do write checks,” he said. “But we put our people into action, too.” [Read more…]

Rotary Minutes: Ralph Rogers

It’s becoming clear that the five minutes that we established for the “Rotary Minutes” is not enough to summarize the lives and careers of some of our members. Even younger members like myself…I’m only 67…have found that limitation constraining.  For senior members like Ralph Rogers,  who is 20 years older, it should hardly get him through high school (Durham High, 1943), military service (the Big One, WW II) and college (Duke undergraduate and pharmacy school at Carolina.)

President Don has been reluctant to use the hook. Fortunately, I was saved from that embarrassment after I went well beyond that arbitrary limit and made it impossible for Don to try to rein in much more interesting and accomplished Rotarians than I, like Ralph.

Ralph’s professional career is notable enough. He took over the pharmacy that his father established in Durham at Mangum and Parrish Streets and ran it until the early 60’s when he sold it to go and found Mutual Drug Company, which for sixty years now has been providing services to independent pharmacies around the state.

However, one of the most fascinating things that Ralph reported on was the project he undertook in the late 50’s. As one of the organizers of an early effort to revitalize Downtown Durham he began documenting improvements with before and after pictures. One of my earliest memories of a Rotary presentation occurred in the late 80’s and was a slide show that Ralph put together of some of these photographs.

Another significant contribution to his home town was Ralph’s involvement in the establishment of mental health services in the community. However, the documentation of Downtown’s early transformation will likely cement his place in history. Fortunately, Ralph has collaborated with the folks at the Durham County Library to make the photographs available to the public along with his audio descriptions of what the pictures are showing.

Anybody interested in the history of Durham will find this indispensable. They are available here on the library’s website.

http://www.durhamcountylibrary.org/ncc/landscape/rr002.php

 

submitted by Jay Zenner

Past President Newman Aguiar to be District Governor

Several weeks ago President Don submitted paperwork to the District 7710 Nominations Committee nominating our own Past President Newman Aguiar for District Governor.  In Current District Governor Rick’s  October newsletter the announcement was made that Newman would serve as the 2015-16 District Governor.

When he is inducted in 2015, Newman will become the eighth member of our club during our 97 year history to be named a District 7710 Governor. In his message to the club announcing the good news President Don noted “How appropriate that he will District Governor as we celebrate our club’s centennial! Please join me in congratulating Newman on this distinct honor.”

Service above Self guides Newman’s involvement in the club and the Durham Community. In 2006 the club recognized him as the Rotarian of the Year. Newman is a graduate of the Rotary Leadership Institute and has served on and led various committees, including Group Study Exchange and Membership. He is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and is passionate about supporting the Peace Fellows at the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center and Rotary’s efforts to end Polio. Of course, he was our club president in 2010-2012 and has served on the Board of Directors. In July, he began serving as an Assistant District Governor for Rotary District 7710.

Click to District Governor Rick’s newsletter to see the announcement authored by Past District Governor Mack Parker.