The Rotary Club of Topsfield, Boxford and Middleton (TBM Rotary, Massachusetts — D 7930) recently visited local elementary schools to donate dictionaries, thesauruses and atlases.
Not only do the reference books open up worlds for students, but the project also highlights the value of community service.
At no cost to the schools or the students, TBM Rotary has been delivering dictionaries since 2004 to third-grade students.
The service organisation has since added the donations of thesauruses to fourth-graders and atlases to fifth-graders.
Former Tri-Town School Union Superintendent Dr Bernie Creeden has seen first-hand the benefits this programme brings to the students.
He says the Rotarian motto of “service above self” is aimed at six avenues, of which literacy is one.
The success of the programme is largely attributed to former Middleton Town Accountant Bob Murphy, whom, Creeden says, is “the champion of the project.”
TBM Rotarians did more than just hand out books, though.
Creeden says, “Each visit is more than dropping off books. We include a great presentation on the far reach that service can have, whether it be locally in our communities or regionally, nationally and even internationally.”
Proctor School Principal Sarah O’Leary says, “The Rotarian message that is spread to the students is one that has been opening students’ perspectives on the power each person has to make the world a better place.”
According to Creeden, one reason Rotarians such as Lisa Foley, Bob Was, Jen Kocur and himself continue this tradition is because these books are being implemented into the students’ curriculum.
With each student in the district receiving a dictionary, thesaurus and atlas by the end of the fifth grade, he or she has learning tools for the rest of his or her life.
One place where students use these tools is a sixth-grade world geography course in which they explore the world using their atlases.
Once a teacher in the district, O’Leary says she has seen the success of the programme in the classroom and from an administrator’s view.
“Every year, students are excited about the books,” she says. “They are constantly flipping through and simply learning.”
One aspect O’Leary speaks of is the impact of technology in education today.
Some students may not see these tools as valid given the internet’s reach and dominance in everyday life, she says.
So teachers and administrators in the district use the book donations to teach students the value of these hands-on resources.
“There’s a time for both digital and physical copy; Students should know how to do both,” O’Leary says.
“Tools such as Google will just give a student the answer. Physical copies will give them the answer along with additional information that I have seen students become fascinated about.”
The programme has been a consistent winner for both TBM Rotary and local schools.
O’Leary has some simple words of gratitude.
“We are so thankful for what the Rotary does for our students,” she says.
Source: Boxford Wickedlocal