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

Community Service Award to Maureen Joy Principal Alex Quigley

QuigleyAwardWebEvery year the Durham Rotary Club presents a Community Service Award to a non-Rotarian who has demonstrated outstanding service to the Durham community. This year the award was presented to Alex Quigley by Past President Arthur Rogers. Alex is the Principal of the Maureen Joy Charter School in Durham. More about the school is in the account of the presentation he made to the club written up by Allen Cronenberg.

Alex has devoted his life to ensuring that children have access to an excellent education, no matter their socio-economic status.  After working as a Teach For America teacher and administrator, Alex became principal of Maureen Joy Charter School in June 2009.  Under Alex’s leadership, the school has made great advances in academic achievement, despite the fact that most of the children come from disadvantaged circumstances.  The school provides lunch and transportation, easing access for many families. Alex is partnering with DPS Superintendent Eric Becoats to formulate a plan for DPS dropout prevention. He is one of the outstanding education leaders in America today.

Passing of the Gavel – Don Stanger to Bill Ingram

GavelIn a brief ceremony at the July 8th meeting, 2012-2013 President Don Stanger passed the gavel to 2013-2014 President Bill Ingram. New board members and officers were also sworn in.

Program Repost: Robert Ingram – The Future of RTP

101_1014I remember when I was considering moving to Durham almost 30 years ago riding by the freeway exits near RTP and wondering “where is it?” According to Bob Ingram, former vice-chairman of GlaxoSmithKline and now chairman of the Research Triangle Foundation, the organization that manages RTP, that reaction was, and is, fairly typical.

The original thinking was to spread it out to create a park like setting with lots of green and room for companies to expand. It was obviously successful and is still envied around the world. But even after all these years in Durham I can’t conjure up a visual image of RTP. I had an artist friend back in the late 80’s who tried to stir some interest in building a monumental triangle on the scale of the St. Louis Arch to correct the problem. Obviously, that went nowhere…RTP was booming, so why fix something that ain’t broke.

Now, however, under Bob’s leadership of the Foundation, it’s time for a reset. As he put it, “RTP has a proud brand, but it’s tired.” What he then described was the broad outline of a master plan that goes beyond branding and recognizes that additional competition and a changing environment, dictate a shift in approach. Employees are no longer as tolerant of long commutes and the only option to the company cafeteria being jumping in the car and going off site. He also cited the fact that many of the innovations are coming from smaller companies that interact and collaborate informally as we’ve seen develop in Downtown, especially in the American Tobacco Campus. Also contributing to the necessity for change is that many of the current buildings in the Park are reaching the end of their useful lives.

He described two target projects. The first at the intersection of Cornwallis Road and Davis Drive that would contain not only office space and lab space but shops, restaurants, and…something that was not allowed originally in RTP, residential development. If this sounds like what Downtown Durham has become, Bob was quick to point out that it would not be a competitor to Downtown but a complement. Personally, I buy that. Just like three or four good restaurants within a block or two of each other don’t compete as much as attract more diners for the experience. The whole can be more than the sum of the parts.

The second project would be at the intersection of 147 and Cornwallis and would be developed to take advantage of one of the area’s great strengths that the original founders of RTP recognized, three great research universities within 25 miles of each other. Nicknamed “Archie” after Archie Davis, one of those founders, it would seek to intensify that collaboration even more.

Bob was introduced by Don Stanger, who minutes earlier had assumed the title of Past President. It was a fitting conclusion for a very successful term. In fact, Don has brought Bob to deliver programs on several occasions. Each time Bob also manages to stir up memories for anyone who has observed the course of economic development in Durham for the last few years. He began by mentioning HC Cranford (Lois’ husband and Susan’s Dad) who along with Dr. Jim Davis founded the City of Medicine program and frequently solicited Glaxo’s participation. He also mentioned the three predecessors of his at Glaxo who recruited him from Merck, Joe Ruvane, Ernie Mario and Charlie Sanders. He also mentioned former city manager Orville Powell and former governor Jim Hunt who was relentless in persuading Joe Ruvane to bring Glaxo to RTP when they were also considering Atlanta and Austin.

It was pretty clear that as the new master plan for RTP starts to turn into reality, the next 20 or 30 years will be just as interesting and good for the region as the last 30 years. I’ll bet they will also create some monumental architecture that will leave a lasting visual impression.

Submitted by Jay Zenner