Program Report: Veterans Day – Jordan Adair

One of the great Durham Rotary Club traditions has been to recognize the veterans in the Club along with a special program on Veterans Day. For many years these programs were organized by Walt Shackelford, who also played the anthems from the 4 major services and asked those from each branch to stand during the anthem of their branch.

Often the program was delivered by a soldier in uniform and they were often quite moving and inspiring. This year the program was a little different. The only uniformed serviceman at the meeting was a guest, Brian Knowles, who is stepson of Sam Miglarese and a Marine who has been deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Also departing from our usual tradition, the program was delivered by Jordan Adair, the head of the English department at Durham Academy, who is of the age that fell between the Vietnam War and our Iraqi adventures and is not a veteran himself.

Mr. Adair, however, is serving in his own way by helping preserve the stories of many veterans through the teaching of a senior elective at Durham Academy entitled Literary and Artistic Responses to War. This class introduces his students to the stories of veterans by both bringing them to class and through projects to record the oral histories.

Of the several stories that Mr. Adair told, the most notable was of bringing General Norman C. Gaddis to the class. General Gaddis is an Air Force Veteran who was shot down after 72 combat missions and captured and held prisoner for five and a half years by the North Vietnamese. [Read more…]

Paul Harris Fellow: Toby Barfield

After a couple of delays, Past President Toby Barfield was presented his pin for becoming a Paul Harris Fellow Plus 2 indicating he has met the Paul Harris threshold of $1,000 three times. In accepting the pin from Rotary Foundation Chair, Dallas Stallings, Toby reaffirmed his commitment to the work, both local and international, the Foundation supports.  He also pointed out that putting aside a little over $83 per month for a year got a member to that $1,000 threshold in a year and challenged the club to become a 100% club with all member Paul Harris fellows.

Rotary Minutes: Tom Krakauer

Today’s Rotary Minute was presented by Tom Krakauer, a Durham Rotary Club Member since 1985 and a Paul Harris Fellow.

Tom shared his notes with me so I could relax and just listen to him and not worry about taking good notes myself. Of the four pages of notes that he gave me, I thought it was remarkable that only two brief paragraphs even mentioned his role in the development of what has become one of Durham’s defining institutions, the Museum of Life  and Science.

I wasn’t always so. When I came to Durhamin 1984 as the marketing director of CCB one of the first major events I was asked to help coordinate was a celebration of the bank’s attainment of what, in those days, was considered a significant milestone, its first billion dollars in assets. This was to be a affair for the employees and their families. After much debate, it was decided that we would do it at the Museum of Life and Science. The event went fine but the museum that had evolved from the Durham Children’s Museum, was a little funky. In Durham we embrace funky but the contrast between what it was then and what it became after Tom took over is pretty astounding and something that is hard to appreciate if you hadn’t seen its previous incarnations.

In fact, there are only a handful of institutions that have participated so actively in Durham’s revitalization and have simultaneously been defined for such a long time by the leaders who shaped them. The three that come to mind are Tom, Bill Kalkhof of Downtown Durham Inc., and Reyn Bowman, now retired from the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau. All members of our club, I might add.

But one of the purposes of the Rotary Minutes is to share things with the club that you might not already know. Tom is unquestionably a Renaissance man whose hobbies include birding, butterflies and genealogy.  In 2004, he retired from the Museum to take care of his wife Janet who had cancer. Janet died in 2005 after 36 years of marriage.

Tom was awarded a lifetime achievement from the Association of Science-Technology Centers, recognizing his role in promoting “Informal Science Education at the National, State and local levels.” The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce also presented him with its Civic Honor Award, its highest award.

Tom mentioned second acts. He has two, and they may be closely related. He noted the special relationship he has developed with Lynn Richardson, the librarian for the North Carolina Collection at the Durham Public Library, who the club met when she provided a program for us on the Collection. One reason why the Chamber honored Tom was his role in the creation of the Museum of Durham History.  Any of you who did your early voting Downtown know that the new museum’s current location is the old transportation hub, which is an euphemism for bus stop, in that tangle of roads between the Civic Center and Brightleaf.

Durham funky, no doubt about it. But let’s look at that as a good sign because we know that Tom and his passion for museums and Durham will make it too, something very special.

Tom’s notes with more information about his birding and unique qualification for the Vice Presidency of the United States can be found here in notes he used to keep himself within the 7 minute time frame…something some Rotarians have failed to do, to their everlasting embarrassment.

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