Taking Aim at Literacy: Rotary Reading Rangers

Hey Pod’na, I’m Todd Taylor and another old cowboy, President Don Stanger, asked me to herd you doggies into one of the most important missions we have undertaken in many a moon. So lets put the cowboy stuff aside for awhile and get down to business.

One of this year’s major strategic objectives for the Durham Rotary Club is taking aim on the issue of literacy inDurham.   Some studies show that 44% of Durham Students are illiterate; this is a significant social issue.

To begin tackling this issue, our club has partnered with the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI), Bootstraps, Teach for America, Southwest Durham Rotary and local schools YE Smith Elementary, Neal Middle and Southern High School.  Our method is to start small and grow our participation.  Durham Rotary has formed Rotary’s Reading Rangers, volunteers to work with teachers and help students read.  We have begun with YE Smith Elementary School.  In the 2011-2012 school year, Rotarians volunteered to assist teachers in Kindergarten – 2nd grade by reading with students.  In the 2012-2013 school year,Durham and Southwest Rotary Clubs have secured a matching grant from the Rotary District to provide $3800 to the school library.  These funds will be used to purchase up to date non-fiction books to allow students to do current research and study.  In conjunction with the book purchase, the Rotary Reading Rangers will continue.  Our goal is to provide at least 4 reading partners per week.  Each Reading Ranger will read and work with a child or group of children for an hour per session.   Obviously the more volunteers we get, the more students we can assist.

This effort would serve as a basis to learn lessons on ways to inspire kids to read.  To encourage children, and ensure success, it is recommended that Rotarians invest some time reading to a child.  Taking an hour during the school day to read to a child, demonstrates that reading is important and the child is worth an adult’s time.  Many of the students at YE Smith do not have much one-on-one parental or adult interaction around reading.  Rotary’s Reading Rangers will provide that attention to the children.

  • Rangers would begin in September and will continue throughout the remainder of the school year.  If successful, we will look to organize something to keep up the effort over the following summer when children tend to ignore their reading skills.
  • Volunteers would be expected to read for at least an hour with a child.
  • Volunteers would communicate with the school coordinator to ensure the child’s work was documented: credit, star, vote, etc.
  • Volunteers would have to register online with Durham Public Schools as a volunteer.  The process takes about 2 weeks.  https://ec.volunteernow.com/recruiter/index.php?class=VolunteerRegistration&recruiterID=1343
  • Volunteers are allowed to keep all smiles and goodwill from the children.

The growth potential will be evaluated as the program unfolds.  Interested volunteers will be given some basic training the methods and processes the school prefers.  We hope to expand the program to include some after school opportunities.  We understand the school day is challenging for many club members.  Additionally, we will strive to work with parents so the support network at home is strengthened.  Often the parents are insecure about their abilities to support the children and we hope to encourage and support the family unit as we grow the program.

The program is not limited to Rotary Members only.  If members have co-worker that is interested in helping, all they need to do is register with DPS as indicated above and they may participate.  This has the benefit of expanding the program outside Rotary to the wider community and showing the community some of the work Rotary does.  Time tables and opportunities will be clearly presented and communicated. 

We are proud of this initiative and look forward to taking aim on literacy and making a positive impact on our community and the future of these children.  Please consider joining the Reading Rangers in this important work.

Submitted by Todd Taylor

Paul Harris Fellow Plus 1 – George Deaton

George Deaton with the United Methodist Retirement Home  has been a club member since 2003 and a Paul Harris Fellow since 2006. At the August 6th meeting he was awarded a pin for achieving Paul Harris Fellow Plus 1 status. The presentation was made by Rotary Foundation Chair, Dallas Stallings.

In accepting the award George addressed the meeting: “It is my privilege to support the Rotary Foundation, an organization that works to bring good health and prosperity to all the peoples of the world. I am grateful for out club members who support the Foundation and am hopeful that we can attain 100% member participation in donating to the Foundation. Together we can help conquer poverty and disease.”

Congratulations to George for achieving this significant milestone.

Use the comments section below to offer George your congratulations.

Program Report: Senator Richard Burr

Bill Stokes got a big laugh when he made a point of introducing his wife, Lucy, as a liberal, just minutes before Republican Senator Richard Burr got up to speak.

Mrs. Stokes was not alone, certainly, but there was a buzz in the packed conference room that could be attributed to the big-name guest. (He asked to speak to us, not the other way around. We’re big time, y’all.)

Senator Burr laughed with the Stokes and the rest of us, then enjoyed the standing ovation he received on his way up to the lectern. But the laughing stopped once he started laying out what he sees as a looming deficit disaster.

For the second time in a month, we got a sobering reminder of how deep a hole our country is in financially.

Burr’s hope is that Congress will rally by the end of the year and pass comprehensive tax reform along the lines of what Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have proposed. (Burr didn’t let the opportunity pass to point out that he’s now backing a plan devised by the man he defeated for his Senate seat. Burr noted that Bowles never would have had the chance to run the UNC system if Bowles had gone to the Senate. Bowles is quick to remind Burr that the senator wouldn’t have gotten the same opportunity had he lost.)

“Why should you be concerned [about the deficit]?” Burr asked. “Because it’s morally the right thing to do. There’s no way we can shove this to a generation we won’t even have a chance to know and feel good about it.”

His solution beyond tax reform was more general. He argued that Americans need to stop looking to the government for solutions, a common Republican refrain, though he wasn’t wrong to note that groups like Rotary are actively creating their own solutions to societal problems. [Read more…]

Paul Harris Fellow – Laura Solie

At our July 30 Rotary meeting, Laura Solie was honored with a Paul Harris Fellow award given to her by her father, Past President Guy Solie.  In making his presentation, Guy noted that his family had early on been a supporter of the Rotary Foudation and that this presentation merely carried on a happy family tradition.  Laura, who has been involved with the Teach for America program, will be entering UNC, Chapel Hill, this month working toward an MBA degree.  Congratulations to Guy for this wonderful way to honor his daughter and to serve the interests of the Rotary Foundation and to Laura for being so honored by her father.

News and Notes – August 4, 2012

Chris Williams

Chris Williams, who shared his story during the Reggie Hodges’ presentation about the Durham Literacy Center also received attention from the Durham News along with the DLC’s move to new space secured from the state with the help of Rotarian Seth Jernigan, a long time supporter of the DLC. Click the link for the full story on The Durham News website.


Follow the link in the post for the August 6 Bulletin.

Program for Monday – Senator Richard Burr

U.S. Senator Richard Burr will address the club. President Don will introduce Senator Burr. Senator Burr’s senate website is here.



Tribute to the Retiring Bernadette

Executive Secretary Bernadette Jones always preferred working behind the scenes, doing the countless things that have kept our club running smoothly for the past 10+ years.

So she was rather uncomfortable taking center stage to receive plaudits from past president Arthur Rogers, bidding her farewell as she heads into retirement.

“She has an encyclopedic knowledge of Rotary,” past president Arthur said. “She very kindly corrects we presidents when we make bylaw mistakes, and we appreciate it. It’s amazing Bernadette was able to jump in and figure out the workings of our club.”

Bernadette got a lengthy and well-deserved standing ovation, and the club also applauded new Executive Secretary Sharon Lassiter, who already is discharging her duties with aplomb.

The 11 presidents under whom Bernadette has served pitched in to present her with a check as a token of gratitude.

She graciously accepted that. But when Jay Zenner tried to take her picture, she treated him like the paparazzi.

Submitted by Matt Dees.

Editor’s note: Bernadette can be forgiven for treating me like paparazzi…she’s had to try to clean up too many of my photos over the last couple of years to make them usable in the bulletin.  – JZ