Rotarians aim to improve community and world

From staff reports

Through a collaborative learning partnership, the Louisville Rotary Club and the schools in Winston County aim to promote literacy and character.For the last few years, the Louisville Rotary Club members have taken time from their workdays to read to local classrooms.The Book Buddy reading program gives the Rotarians a chance to promote literacy in the local classrooms as well as talk about the character traits that can help someone become successful.

Rotary Member Nola Bryant heads up the book buddy project this year and several of the past years. Bryant usually has about 20 or more of the Rotarians volunteer to read to the students in Louisville Municipal School District as well as Winston Academy and the Winston County Head Start.

Between the Lions: Promoting early literacy

The Louisville Rotary Club working with the Rotary District and Mississippi Public Broadcasting also promote preschool literacy at the Winston County Head Start by sponsoring to Between the Lions Classroom at the facility.

Rotary and MPB have worked successfully for several years with childcare centers across the state to introduce the center directors and teachers to the literacy curriculum produced by MPB. The curriculum, which is based on the Emmy Award winning PBS KIDS series “Between the Lions,” provides early word recognition and comprehension activities for the thee , four , and five year old children who are in the centers’ daily care.

The Louisville Rotary not only adopted two classrooms by financially supporting these classrooms Between the Lions Program, but also serves as “designated readers.”

Sharon Person, MPB’s Director of Education Outreach and Grants, has been leading these efforts since the program was established in 2005.

“This program is another step forward for education in Mississippi,” Person said. “We’re so grateful to the Rotary Clubs for their support of and belief in this initiative.”

The “Between the Lions”/Rotary Club Preschool Literacy Initiative was formed to improve the pre literacy skills of children in attendance at the adopted childcare centers. The Initiative began in 2008 with 11 adopted preschool classrooms. Currently, 1771 children in 73 early childhood centers have participated in the program, allowing children to view episodes in class and engage in before and after viewing activities designed to improve language and social skills, as well as math and science. “Active” viewing is more than just watching the featured episode. Children rotate between hands-on learning centers designed to instruct in creative ways, and they sing songs, learn poems and read books all based on the week’s theme.

The Between the Lions curriculum is comprised of three components. The actual viewing of the Between the Lions episodes in the classroom allows children to interact with each other and the teacher. Supplemental materials such as songs, poem charts, and books reinforce the message presented during the featured episode, and the mentoring component provides support for classroom teachers.

A participating BTL classroom teacher receives training in implementing the curriculum, a TV/DVD player for the classroom, 61 children’s books, teacher handbooks with accompanying DVDs, and materials to be used in the classroom; and a Rotarian to visit the classroom on appointed times to read and mentor the children.

Donations and weekly meetings

The Louisville Rotary Club also gives back to the community in other ways.

The Club provides an annual scholarship to the LMSD and Winston Academy each year and also donates to needed projects in the community.

The club recently donated funds to Eiland Middle School so that they could purchase an American flag for each classroom.

The club also hosts at its weekly meetings an informational speaker on a variety of topics and issues.

The January 9 meeting will feature associate head coach Butch Thompson, a native of Amory, Miss., who is in his fifth year on John Cohen’s baseball coaching staff at Mississippi State University.

The January 16 meeting will feature East Central Community College’s 2020 Vision survey and plan.

The Rotary Club of Louisville meets each Wednesday at noon at Lake Tiak O’khata. Talk with any of the 40 Louisville Rotary Club members about attending a meeting.

During each year, the Rotary District Governor visits the club to motivate and discuss the club’s goals for the year.

“Rotary is the largest humanitarian organization in the world,” stated Danny Williams, District 6820 Governor. “Rotary has 1.2 million members, has 34,000 clubs and exists in 200 countries.” Williams noted on his visit October 3, 2012.

Williams explained that Rotary makes things happen. The theme of Rotary this year around the world is “Peace Though Service.”

Rotary took on the challenge 25 years ago to eliminate polio throughout the world by vaccinating every child. When Rotarians began there were 160,000 new cases worldwide of polio diagnosed each year. In 2011 that number had dropped to 78 cases. Rotarians will keep working until this dreaded disease is eliminated according to Williams.

“The power of Rotary is that one person can make a difference. Clubs can help make their communities better places to live. Rotary throughout the world can take on big challenges and make them happen,” Williams said. “Ask yourself if not now when, if not me who, and then decide it’s up to me, to all of us to make a difference.”

The Rotary district governor is required to visit every club in their district.

Governor Williams also discussed with the Louisville Rotary President Bruce Lee and board of directors ways to promoteg Polio Plus; increasing membership; grow contributions to the Rotary Foundation; Club participation in local and international projects, Preparing clubs and districts for implementation of Future Vision and increasing Rotary awareness.

The mission of Rotary International, a worldwide association of Rotary clubs, is to provide service to others, to promote high ethical standards, and to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

If you would like more information, please contact Bruce Lee, Louisville Rotary Club President.