Presentation: Alexandra Zagbayou – Student U

Durham is an amazing city! And part of the reason is Student U, which was started in 2005 by a group from UNC, NCCU, Duke, Durham Public Schools, and Durham Academy, determined to help Durham Public Schools students reach their full potential.  SU appears to have been the first organization of its kind in the country.

Lois Deloatch introduced Executive Director  Alexandra Zagbayou, just returned from a trip to China, who described SU’s work in a lively talk.  SU lives in what used to be the W. G. Pearson School (named after famed black educator William Gaston Pearson, 1858-1947), where Rotary met this week. The building was acquired and renovations begun in 2017 thanks to public-private partnerships and investments from Durham Public Schools, Durham County, Self-Help and other generous foundations and individuals (SU is now the main tenant). The building was then in a somewhat dilapidated condition (removing asbestos cost some $5 million), but is now fully restored, as Rotarians could see during a brief tour after the meeting. SU is funded byfoundations, corporations, government grants and individual donations.

SU aims to aid low-income, first-generation college-going students from the Durham Public Schools and help them take charge of their lives, sort out their goals — and achieve them, be they college or some other post-secondary qualification. SU takes in 50-60 students each year and walks with those students and families for 11 years to and through college. There is no cost. To date, 100% of SU students have graduated from high school, and they just celebrated their first class of college graduates last year. Students and teachers meet in the summer and after school for academic support and enrichment and to discuss students’ goals and how to achieve them. Should you go to college? Which college? How to minimize student debt? What are other alternatives?

          (Many Thanks for Elise Sharpe, for help)

          – John Staddon

Durham 150 Celebration

Despite the rain, Durham Rotarians showed up to celebrate Durham’s 150thAnniversary on April 13, 2019 at the American Tobacco Campus.  The celebration included speeches by the mayor, poetry reading, music and performances by the local Bouncing Bulldogs.  Attendees were invited to participate in various activities that focused on Durham’s rich history. The celebration focused upon four areas:  History & Education, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Social and Robust Democracy, and Arts & Leisure.  Rotary is an official sponsor of the Social Equity and Robust Democracy focus Area.

Elizabeth Weiner (R) and Karen Wells (L) representing the Rotary Club of Durham


Of the forty seven volunteers that signed up to assist with the event,  eleven of them were from the Rotary Club of Durham. We are proud to support the Durham 150 Celebrations in this great city that we call home.

Durham 150 Celebrations will continue in the upcoming months. Please consider participating in the planned events.

Program: David Michelmann – Duke School

At Duke School, the children in kindergarten are invited to conduct a group investigation into subjects of their own interest. In this particular case, the chosen object of their collective curiosity was ice cream.

David Michelmann, head of school, has some really cute photos that he showed Rotarians at lunch on Monday. He said the ice-cream probe rapidly escalated.

The children first began to explore how to make it. Outside guests visited to make their own in front of the class. The inquiry opened up new questions: Where did ice cream begin? How did it get to the U.S.? How can you sell ice cream?

Michelmann, a George Washington University law school graduate who has helmed the Duke School since 2006, says the project typifies the school’s emphasis on using projects to help students develop critical thinking skills at a young age. Michelmann was introduced by Rotarian Kenneth Chandler (Dr. C) who is also the Development officer at the Duke School. [Read more…]

Books on Break

The SignUp Genius for Books on Break is live. Please sign up for the time slot that you would like to fill. We encourage you to take advantage of this exciting and fulfilling opportunity as we put books into the hands of our local Durham elementary students.


Please be sure to fill out the Durham Public Schools background check form in order to be approved to volunteer at this event. (Allow 2 weeks for processing.)

Setup: Friday, May 3, 2019

Book Selection Days: May 6, 2019 through May 9, 2019

Paul Harris Fellows

L to R: Mr. Dave Ross, Mr. Bob Gutman, Mr. Dallas Stallings, Ms. Roxanne Hall Little

Congratulations to our four Paul Harris Fellows. They have each achieved their next level of giving and we greatly appreciate their generosity and support.

A Day for Funding and Fellowship

Winston Churchill once criticized a pudding, saying “It has no theme.” The same criticism cannot be leveled at Monday’s meeting. The theme was in fact: bucks, dosh, dough, lucre, moolah, Benjamins, in short: money. Money for a range of Rotary charities, ranging from Vocational Services (Geraud Staton), which helps homeless and other unfortunates get, to the Rotary Foundation (Andy Esser), which matches, in ways Andy explained, our member donations. Targets ($60K) and attainment so far ($30K) were announced.

Other groups (out of a total of 16 tables) were Rotary fellowship; fundraising; Alzheimer’s; Rotary International: Youth; Programs; Scholarships: (the Goccolina dinner); Green Team; Membership; Crop walk (Durham Lions challenge): Sergeant-at-Arms table; Books on Break; Polio Plus. The number was bewildering, the enthusiasm great. Check the Table for others…

Alzheimer’s Awareness: Mike Priddy

Books On Break: Jenny Levine

Club Grants: Mimi O’Brien

Communications: Tammie Sellman

Community Service: Emily Page

Fellowship: Elisabeth Wiener

Foundation: Dallas Stallings

Fundraising: TBA