Rotary Clubs with Literacy
Activities Reported Below
School years normally end with a slew of celebrations for students of all ages.
Among those commemorative events is usually a party hosted for younger students by the Reading Rockets, a volunteer reader program of the Marshes of Glynn Libraries sponsored and supported by the Rotary Club of St. Simons Island.
For 10 years, the library and SSI Rotary have collaborated to read and provide books to children in pre-K and kindergarten classes in Glynn County Schools. Last year, the program expanded to include reading to the children in Head Start classrooms as well. The program is funded by a grant awarded to the Rotary Club.
"In years past, we have celebrated the end of the school year and the beginning of summer by having parties in the classrooms with the kids and giving each of them a 'graduation' book to take home and to read over the summer," said Linda Muir, literacy committee chair for the St. Simons Rotary. "This year, we were disappointed that the school year ended early, and we were not able to say goodbye to the kids or to give them a celebration, a book and a Reading Rockets button to show that they had become Reading Rocket Kids."
Instead, the program's volunteers found a different way to let the students know how much they care about their longterm literacy education.
"Despite the interruptions of the COVID-19 crisis, we wanted to be sure that the grant funds were used in a way that would further the goals of the program to encourage children to read, especially over the summer while they are out of school so they can avoid the summer slide that sometimes occurs," Muir said. "We had to make a lemonade out of a lemon to make sure that the kids had a special year-end experience despite the need to shelter at home."
More than 700 students who participated in the Reading Rockets program received an "I Can Read" book through the mail, in a package addressed to them. Staff and volunteers from the library, Rotary Club, school system and Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority, which operates the Head Start Program, came together to package the books and mail them out.
The students also received a Reading Rockets button and a letter for the children and their parents, offering congratulations and encouraging them to keep reading over the summer.
Over the school year, Reading Rockets volunteers -- who are drawn from SSI Rotarians and members of the community -- read in more than 25 classrooms weekly to reinforce the importance and joy of reading with the children.
"The kids and the volunteers look forward to these sessions, which last about 30 minutes, every week," Muir said. "The volunteers enjoy being with the kids, and the kids benefit from hearing more vocabulary words as well as interesting and fun stories and from knowing that another grown-up in the community cares about them."
It's also hard to understate the importance of helping students maintain their reading skills so that they're reading on grade level.
"Reading on grade level by
the end of third grade is the foundation of success in school,"
Muir said. "The Reading Rockets program is one
of the bricks built into that foundation for these kids."
St. Simons Rotary Scholarship Fund
The scholarship awards vary in number and size each year. The club typically awards scholarships of $2000 per year for 4 years of undergraduate study ($1000 for each of the fall and spring semesters).
The College or University may be located in or outside the state of Georgia, and must be fully accredited. Recipients are selected on the basis of scholarship, leadership, community service and other demonstration of personal character, as well as financial need. Recent awards since 2006 have totaled about $500,000. For more information on this program, visit the Scholarship Page on the club website.
The Rotary Club of Centerville, GA saw the difference READ UNITED was making in kids' lives and brought it to their community. "What we give them is sometimes their best shot and it's working." They've even gotten noticed by the Georgia State Superintendent of Schools, Richard Woods. This year's Juanita T. Jordan Community Impact Award recipient is the Rotary Club of Centerville, GA.
In January, the Centerville Rotary Club celebrated its one-year anniversary of providing a reading program to Centerville Elementary. The Club funds the program to help students improve their reading skills. The Rotarians currently tutor 42 students, an increase over the inaugural year of 16 students.
Read United is an initiative of United Way of Central Georgia to address literacy challenges facing Central Georgia. The program recruits volunteers to tutor kindergarten through third grade students in reading. The volunteers help children increase their reading literacy and become a positive influence in the child's life, thus improving the overall health and wellness of our community.
Learning to read is critical in the early years of childhood because of the shift that occurs in the schools when the child enters grade four. From kindergarten to third grade, a child learns to read. When the child enters grade four, the child reads to learn. If a child does not know how to read, essentially he or she cannot efficiently learn, and a downward spiral occurs.
The Glennville Rotary Club was sponsored by the Savannah West Rotary Club and received its charter in November of 1984. The Savannah West Club supported the early establishment of the Glennville Rotary Club for many years and helped the Club build a strong foundation. The Club had strong and dedicated leaders that built upon that foundation like our late Charter President Jimmy Dubberly who helped shape and build our Club's culture and values that still exist today. We also had leaders like Past President and Charter Member Dr. Troy Rahn our Polio Plus Chair and only club member with perfect attendance and the late Past President and Charter Member Lee Woodcock who helped start our Annual Auction that has been held every year since 1987. We continue to have strong leadership, wonderful fellowship, good Club growth and the desire to do good in our local community and the world. We have demonstrated this by leading the District in per capita giving to the Rotary Foundation for the last four years and using our local share funds to support our Basic Education and Literacy focus.
Early on our leadership and club members wanted to focus on the area of Basic Education and Literacy. With that in mind what follows is the story of how the Glennville Rotary Club has helped to make a difference in Basic Education and Literacy in our Community and around the World. As I mentioned earlier, we started an Annual Rotary Club Dinner Auction in 1987 to raise funds to provide scholarships to area high school seniors. Every year since, 33 years now this Annual Fundraiser has been held in our community. Rotary Club members, Businesses and individuals support and participate by donating funds and items for the dinner auction as well as attending and bidding on the live and silent auction items. We involve many of our local youth to help assist with this event as well. Over the years we have provided over $250,000 in scholarships to over 200 students at Pinewood Christian Academy and Tattnall County High School.
The proceeds from our Scholarship Dinner Auction funds $8000 in scholarships each year. We provide a $2000 Jimmy Dubberly Memorial Scholarship and a $2000 Lee Woodcock Memorial Scholarship along with four (4) $1000 scholarships. Beginning next year with the disbanding of the Reidsville Rotary Club we will pick up their $2000 Jack Hill Memorial Scholarship. This will bring the total scholarships supported by the Glennville Rotary Club each year to $10,000. Past Presidents Darla Kicklighter and Tiffany K Sittle continue to co-chair our annual Dinner Auction.
The Glennville Rotary Club sponsors two Interact Clubs. Along with the Claxton Rotary Club we Co-Sponsor the Pinewood Christian Academy Interact Club and we also sponsor the Interact Club of the Battle Creek Warriors at Tattnall County High School. These students attend Rotary Club meetings from time to time and provide a variety of programs during the year. We involved them in our projects during the year like the Auction mentioned above, our Christmas projects and fund raisers for Polio Plus.
One of the programs that our members look forward to each year is PDG Preston Johnston High School Speech Contest. The Glennville Club has conducted the Annual Speech Contest every year since its inception in 1997. We work with Pinewood Christian Academy and Tattnall County High School to conduct their own speech contest and send their top three contestants to the Glennville Club for the Annual District 6920 High School Speech Competition. The Glennville Club Awards prizes ranging from $200 to the winner, $150 for second and $100 for third. All participants get $50. We send our top two contestants to the Zone competition each year. In 2014 Kathleen Shuman won the Eastern Zone competition and received the $1000 scholarship after giving her speech at the District Conference on Jekyll Island. Over the years hundreds of students have given their speech at the Glennville Rotary Club and many have gone on to the Eastern Zone Competition. Many of these students were Interactors in High School and we even have a few that are now Rotarians.
We also have a "Dictionary Project" that we started in 2011 under Past President Dennis Strickland. Over the past few years we partnered with the Reidsville Rotary Club to distribute these dictionaries to all third grade students in Tattnall County. With the termination of the Reidsville Rotary Club the Glennville Club will continue this project in 2020/2021. This is also a DDG grant project for the Glennville Club. This project is currently Co-Chaired by past Presidents Dennis Strickland and Pam Waters.
In 2014, we begin partnering with The Augusta partnership for Literacy through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to distribute age appropriate books to children in Tattnall County between the ages of birth up to five years old. Members participate by helping to sign up children each year and a book a month is mailed to the applicant's home. Jay Martin, our Grants Chair also chairs this project "Reading Matters" and this is one of the annual District Designated Grant Projects that we apply for each year.
Several years ago under the leadership of then President Pam Waters the Club started a reading project at the local elementary school. Club members would sign up and once a week the member could read a book of their choice or a book provided by the teacher to the elementary class. We are not exactly sure what that will look like this year, but we hope to continue that well into the future.
The Glennville Club supports the Star Student / Star Teacher from Tattnall County High School each year. We pay for their trip to the District event and have them present a special program to our Rotary Club where we honor them for their hard work and dedication.
The Glennville Rotary Club has sponsored around 100 students over the years to attend RYLA on the South Georgia College Campus. These students always return to present a program on "What they learned and how RYLA has influenced their Life".
On the International side of things we have supported basic education and literacy over the years through our early participation in the GRSP back in the late 80's and early 90's. We have also been a sponsoring club for several International Grants that support Basic Education and Literacy
Finally, the Glennville Club has also been very supportive of the STEM Project at South Tattnall Middle School for the last few years. We also participate in a variety of other school and student lead initiatives in our community, like supporting and sponsoring students or clubs to attend leadership training or other competition at the state or national level.
In short, I would say that due to the solid foundation built by our early leaders and the continued dedication of our Club's membership the Glennville Rotary Club has helped to "Open the Doors of Opportunity" for many children and youth throughout Tattnall County when it comes to Basic Education and Literacy.
The Rotary Club of Macon acknowledges that literacy is vital to economic development as well as its community well-being. The club is committed to "Service above Self" and to the mission and goals of Rotary International related to alleviating illiteracy. By partnering with United Way of Central Georgia, the Rotary Club of Macon supports Burdell-Hunt Elementary School's efforts in increasing their students' literacy rates.
Read United, an initiative of United Way of Central Georgia, addresses the literacy challenges facing Central Georgia. Read United recruits volunteers to tutor kindergarten through third grade students in reading. Through tutoring, volunteers help children increase their reading literacy, become a positive influence in the child's life, and improve the overall health and wellness of our community Read United, together with the volunteers of our community, aims to close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates, and disrupt the cycle of poverty. The Rotary Club of Macon has solicited Rotarians to commit to becoming reading volunteers at Burdell-Hunt Elementary.
In addition, United Way sponsors multiple reading celebrations for the elementary schools in the Bibb County School District. One of those celebrations is Jumpstart's Read for the Record. Read for the Record brings together millions of adults and children around the world each year to read the same book on the same day in order to raise awareness about the critical importance of early literacy and access to high-quality books. This year Read for the Record will take place on October 29, 2020. The Rotary Club of Macon was awarded a District Grant to enhance our support of this literacy initiative. With the funds, the club will purchase the Read for the Record book titled Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away. Each Burdell-Hunt Elementary student will receive a copy of the book to enjoy at home with family after a Rotarian reads to the class.
This is a great opportunity for students to encounter support from community members. The students, administrators and staff will recognize that the Rotary Club of Macon has a vested interest in our local students' well-being.
The Valdosta North Rotary Club is proud of its efforts to support basic education and literacy in our community. More than likely if a person can tell time, read a text message or deposit a paycheck, he/she has a teacher to thank for those skills. Each year Valdosta North Rotary Club praises teachers as the unsung heroes of the community and thanks them for what they do.
Valdosta North Rotary hosted its Seventh Annual Teacher Appreciation Dinner to honor the 22 Teachers of the Year from the Valdosta City and Lowndes County school systems on Oct. 1, 2019. More than 1000 teachers and guests attended the banquet. Emmy Award-winning science teacher Steve Spangler was the guest speaker. All funds generated by the dinner over expenditures are donated to Valdosta City Schools and Lowndes Educational Improvement Foundation. Teachers of the year are able to use the funds to purchase materials for their classrooms.
Additionally, recognizing the importance of Early Childhood Education, the Valdosta North Rotary Club in conjunction with the Valdosta Rotary Club donates funds to support Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program in Lowndes County. This program provides registered children with a new book every month from birth to 5th birthday. Lowndes County currently provides books to 1303 children.
To assist with Rotary International's area of focus, Basic Education and Literacy, the Rotary Club of Millen donated 75 dictionaries to Jenkins County Elementary School for the third grade students. Due to COVID-19, we may not have been able to personally deliver these to the students during class, like we have in the past, but we still want to encourage the students to read and learn. This year inside every dictionary cover is a special quote for the students reminding them that they can overcome and achieve any obstacle that comes their way.
"Always be persistent with your goals, keep a strong determination throughout your life, and be confident in yourself, for with this mentality you can accomplish anything!" -Shana Brinson, Rotary Club of Millen President 2020-21.
Since our club was unable to enter the school this year to read to the students due to COVID-19, We started a reading project for National Read a Book Day and titled it, "Come Read With Rotary". This project stretched from September 10th to October 2nd. Our club's Rotarians recorded themselves reading books of their choice and those videos were then shared on our club Facebook page daily, as well as shared with the local Elementary School teachers.
We plan on doing this again in January For National Reading Day and in March for National Read Across America.
In 2018, the Valdosta Rotary Club decided they needed to form a Literacy Fund Committee tasked specifically with the efforts of promoting and supporting literacy in Lowndes County. We formed a 6-person committee and got to work straight away to identify our primary areas of focus. We determined that we would have 3 areas of focus, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, Community Partners in Education, and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College's GED program.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library was first introduced in Lowndes County in 2009 by then Valdosta Rotary Club President Dennis Marks. This program mails a high quality, age-appropriate, book every month to each registered child from birth to age 5, free of charge to the family. While it is free for the family, there is a cost involved. It takes approximately $125 to fund books for one child from birth to age 5. The Lowndes County Affiliate of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library relies solely on the support of community donors. Since the inception of the program here in Lowndes County, we have enrolled close to 3,800 children. Approximately 1,300 children are currently receiving books. Our club has made a commitment that we will not enroll a child unless we have enough money on hand to pay for his or her books until they graduate the program at age 5. The last thing we want is for the child to quit receiving books before they start school.
We have two main fundraisers to support Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. They both debuted in 2019. The first is our Imaginary Ball to support the Imagination Library. What is an Imaginary Ball, you might ask? It is just as it sounds. It is a Ball that you attend in your imagination! This year, our Ball did NOT take place on August 20th. It did NOT start with refreshments at 6pm and dinner was NOT served at 7pm. There was NO program held at 8pm. As a result, our invitees did NOT have to rent a tuxedo, buy a new dress, spend money at the hair and nail salon, pay a babysitter, spend money on dinner or the cash bar. They also saved 4+ hours of their priceless time! In all, they saved over $675 by attending our Imaginary Ball. The purchase of their ticket entitled them to stay home and relax, spend time with their families, or read to their children or grandchildren. We encouraged our guests to take photos at their Imaginary Ball and post them on social media with our hashtag. The best part is since we hosted this Imaginary Ball, we did not have to spend money on a venue rental, catering charges, room decor, or entertainment. The only expense was printing and mailing the invitations, which was covered by the Club's General Fund. This allowed us to use 100% of the ticket sales to directly benefit Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Our first year was a great success and we raised over $5,000. We received amazing feedback from the community. We were not sure what to expect this year, but if there was ever a time for an Imaginary Ball, this was the year! We doubled our mailing list and hoped to raise $7,500. We had a stunning "turnout" of over $9,400 raised. This will allow us to enroll more than 75 new children in Lowndes County to start receiving free books and create the spark to becoming lifelong readers.
Our second fundraiser is called the Corporate Charity Challenge. This is an afternoon of fun teambuilding activities that gives local companies the opportunity to compete against other local businesses for year-long bragging rights. Each company enters a team of 4 individuals that compete in 5 events: "Egg" Relay, Cornhole Toss, Chipping Challenge, Relay Sack Race, and Speed Reading (the article they speedread is all about the history and benefits of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library). Each team earns points at each event. The teams with the first, second, and third highest points earn Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals. We offer different levels of sponsorship opportunities, along with team entry fees. We hold the event at the Courthouse Square on the First Friday of October. Our first year was a great success with 20 teams competing. After expenses, we raised right at $5,000. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we chose not to hold the event this year. However, we sent out letters to all the companies that participated last year to announce our decision to cancel but also give them the opportunity to still support Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. As of the time of this writing, we do not have a total to report from this effort.
Community Partners in Education is our second area of focus. This is a partnership between the two local school systems (city and county) and local businesses to encourage active involvement and support from the community for our elementary students. We have been a Community Partner in Education for many years, supporting our assigned schools by volunteering time reading to the students and also by providing some financial support. Our annual goal is to donate $1,000 to each partner school to support their Media Centers. We are in the process of scheduling the check presentation during the month of October for this year.
Our third area of focus was added in 2018 when the Literacy Fund Committee was formed. Our committee wanted to make sure there was also an element of support to promote literacy in adults. After extensive research, we decided to help support the GED Program at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. This program assists adults with obtaining their GED diplomas. While the program itself is funded through grants and is free to the students, there are fees involved to take the actual tests that must be passed in order to obtain the diploma. The total cost of all the tests is $120. This can be a hardship to some adults and has presented a barrier from obtaining their diploma. As a result, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College has set up a fund to help those adults in need. Our goal is to donate $1,000 annually to support that fund. We were very proud to present that check last year, and we are planning to schedule the check presentation again this year before the end of the year.
Our main fundraisers for these last two areas of focus come primarily from within the club. A portion of our Happy Dollars goes to the Literacy Fund. We also facilitate a 50/50 raffle with an added twist at each club meeting. Our twist includes an added level of "luck. Not only must your raffle ticket be drawn, then you must draw the Ace of Spades from a deck of cards. If there is no winner, we continue to let the pot build. If no one has won towards the end of the fiscal year, we will usually have a "Raffle-palooza" where we will continue to draw raffle tickets until someone draws the Ace of Spades. We also normally have a Memorial Day BBQ sale, however, that was canceled due to COVID-19 this year. We are tentatively planning a Christmas Wreath sale in its place in November.
Overall, so far this year, we have raised over $12,000 to support Literacy and Education in our community. We will continue to be champions for this cause because we are helping to build our future leaders and what better way to put Service Above Self!
Entertainment legend and philanthropist Dolly Parton is in a partnership between her Dollywood Foundation and Rotary International to promote early childhood reading. Preschool children in every county will one day receive age appropriate books to better prepare them for reading and learning success.
RI places a priority on literacy, unfortunately a significant problem in our own Georgia communities, which in many cases have higher illiteracy rates than do provinces in countries such as India.
Dolly Parton Teams
with Rotary International
ATLANTA (March 6, 2009) - Entertainment legend and philanthropist Dolly Parton announced a groundbreaking partnership Friday between her Dollywood Foundation and Rotary International to promote early childhood reading. Preschool children in every county will one day receive age appropriate books to better prepare them for reading and learning success.
The Dictionary Project is a popular choice for District 6920 Rotary Clubs
The Dictionary Project is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. The goal of this program is to assist all students in completing the school year as good writers, active readers and creative thinkers by providing students with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come. The Dictionary Project gives 95 cents of every dollar donated toward the purchase of dictionaries. Read more at http://www.dictionaryproject.org/ .
members of the Rotary Club of Millen, GA along with primary school teachers
and school board officials during the 1991-92 Rotary year. This fantastic
coloring book teaches children all about the virtues of The Four-Way Test with stories that they can easily relate to. The target group is first or
second grade students. Provide these coloring books to the same grade every
year. Teachers love them! In Stock Now!