Rotarian of the Year – Todd Taylor

RotarianOfTheYearWebTodd Taylor accepted the Rotarian of the Year Award for 2012-2013 for leading the highly praised Reading Rangers Program. As part of the Club’s partnership with the East Durham Children’s Initiative to attack illiteracy in our population Todd relentlessly recruited volunteers both in and outside the Club and worked closely with  Durham Public Schools administrators to coordinate the efforts. Even with over 50 volunteers the program has much room to grow. Besides the coordination Todd effectively “branded” the program with the cowboy theme and an abundance of humor. Congratulations Todd….Yeee…haw!ToddAcceptsweb

President’s Award – Jay Zenner

PresAwardwebJay Zenner accepted the President’s Award for his outstanding work on and dedication to the Club’s communications program. Jay thanked Don and the Communications Committee of Deirdre Haj, Mark Lazenby, Matt Dees and Allen Cronenberg for taking over much of the “content” creation to allow him to focus on the mechanics of the website.  He also thanked President Don and Past President Newman for giving him the opportunity to run with the program.

Service Above Self Award – Carolyn Aaronson

CarolynAwardWebCarolyn Aaronson has always been generous with her time, money and talents and this year she went beyond her ordinary generosity as she led several fund raising efforts including the sale of valentines that she created and a brainstorm for increasing the CART bucket collections by distributing baggies to bring in loose change that often collects in jars on dressers. 101_1011CraneWeb

Service Above Self Award – Sharon Lassiter

SharonWebExecutive Secretary Sharon Lassiter was awarded a Service Above Self Award for taking over the duties of Executive Secretary under difficult circumstances and performing above and beyond the call of duty. Organizing all the details of off-site meetings was especially noted. The fact that she can also jump in and play the piano for The Star Spangled Banner or America the Beautiful has also endeared her to the entire membership. She also deserves credit for redesigning the bulletin and managing to get them out in several formats.

Year End Celebration 2012-2013

President Don Stanger hosted an end-of-term celebration at the Hope Valley Country Club after completing  a very successful term which included being awarded Best in District Club, an award given only when there is a really outstanding club.

Thanks to Jen Noble for the photographs below of the event. Numerous awards were made that are documented in separate posts.

Program Report: Alex Quigley – Principal of Maureen Joy Charter School

QuigleyProgramwebAlex Quigley, principal of Maureen Joy Charter School, gave us an update on the Charter School movement in North Carolina and exciting news about the Maureen Joy School. Founded in 1997, Maureen Joy School was Durham’s first charter school and one of the earliest in North Carolina.  Prospective scholars are chosen by lottery.  There are currently 375 K-8 students but plans in the offing will increase that number to 600.  Maureen Joy Charter School is a free, not-for-profit public school with a diverse student population.  This diversity is achieved to a large extent by providing free transportation unlike some charter schools.  In response to a question about funding, Quigley said the operating expenses but not capital project monies come from public sources.

Although the school was designated a “low performing” school in 2007 enormous strides have been made to distinguish the school academically.  A “turnaround specialist” was brought in.  The course was reversed and Alex acknowledges he has been building on the back of that achievement.  During the last four years scholars at Maureen Joy have been scoring higher on statewide performance measures and the school has been recognized as one of six charter school in NC to have closed the achievement gap.  Its emphasis on academics, character building and development of personal responsibility has gotten the attention of parents and the community.  For the 150 slots for new students this year there have been 750 applications.

Quigley attributes success to three things: 1) great teachers who are consummate professionals and dedicated to their students; 2) more time on task as a result of a slightly longer school day; and 3) a “no excuse culture” in which students (and parents, too) are held accountable.  The school is strict on small things such as adhering to the prescribed dress code.

Alex is proud of his teachers some of whom may not have all the traditional credentials but who are not only knowledgeable in their respective fields but are zealous in their work.  He takes umbrage at the claim that Maureen Joy Charter School can serve as a model for other schools.  The school has made much progress but there is more to be done.  As Alex says, “I have an inside view: I see how the sausage is made!”

With the assistance of the Self-Help Venture Fund and tax credits, Maureen Joy Charter School will move this summer from its former location on Cornwallis Road to the old Y.E. Smith School on Driver Street.  The 50,000 square foot building was constructed in the early 20th century and has been vacant for several years and is undergoing a $10 million renovation that will accommodate more scholars and improved academic and ancillary facilities.

Quigley was introduced by Chris Combs who told us that Alex grew up just outside Boston, attended college at Colby in Maine, joined Teach for America which led him to Mississippi where he taught for four years and earned a Master’s degree.  A love of Boston obviously rubbed off on Alex’s handsome young son who accompanied his dad to our meeting and who Chris predicted would one day be a star pitcher for the Red Sox!

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg