Visiting Rotarian , Mike Tannenbaum (Education) from Wilsonville, Oregon; Sharyn introduced her guests, 2019 RYLA participant from Tucson HS, Melina Esquivel, and her mother, Monica Esquivel. Jeff Derickson was delighted to introduce his son-in-law, Adam Strunk, a Petroleum Engineer in Denver. Anita asked the club to welcome her guest, Martha Lee a Grant Writer extraordinaire and Consultant for the Tohono O’odham Community College.
Al Chesser announced that he was making a special presentation today to Adam Strunk as a result of the generosity of Jeff and Cece Derickson to the Rotary Foundation. He shared a brief history of the Foundation and stated that when a family member or someone makes a gift to designate an individual a Paul Harris Fellow it is because they believe that individual possesses the same high values and humanitarian concerns that established the Foundation. Adam and Jeff were invited to come forward. Al presented the Paul Harris Certificate and pin to Adam and we all welcomed the newest Paul Harris Fellow, Adam Strunk.
Sergeant at Arms
Bob Stofft was in the holiday spirit and began by asking all not wearing holiday colors to put a buck in the can. After asking if there were any anniversaries, birthdays, etc., Bob shared the story about his wedding to Mary 53 years ago and how he knew so little as he recorked an unfinished bottle of Champagne and put it in the trunk of his car and they drove to Fort Hood…..result? …you guessed it, Champagne all over the trunk. He was amazed that he knew nothing and she still stuck with him.
Other announcements and happy dollars included Tom Robertson who took his new dog pheasant hunting for the first time and the dog did good. Al Anzaldua said Bob Grady had announced the District Conference Cruise in October which is the “steak” He wanted to share the “sizzle”. The sizzle begins in the morning in Ensenada with a trip to vaccinate children against polio and Al is also helping to organize a wine tasting. Fabulous wines are produced from the ground in Ensenada which is in the Valley of Guadalupe, well known for its wines. Rotarians are encouraged to register for the Cruise Conference by the end of January to ensure a space and receiving the conference cruise rate. Maria Elena placed happy $s in the can stating her family is blessed and thanked Rotarians for their support for the ordeal they went through. Steve Pender has a letter to the editor in the January issue of the Rotarian. Anita asked all to thank Bob Grady for his dedication and job well done on the first half of his term as President.
Dr. Gabriel Trujillo is the superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District. He is a lifelong educator entering into his 20th year of service in public education starting as a teacher at both the elementary and secondary levels in the areas of English as a Second Language and English Language Arts and later moving into school and district level administration. Dr. Trujillo has served in numerous administrative roles including assistant principal, principal, human resources director, and as an assistant superintendent here in the Tucson Unified School District. He accepted his current position in 2017, where after his first year of service the district demonstrated impressive academic gains as a quarter of the district schools increased their letter grades for the 2018-19 school year.
As the leader of Southern Arizona’s largest school district, Dr. Trujillo serves about 45,000 students and their families and oversees 89 schools and programs along with district departments and personnel. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Supervision and Leadership, and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
President Bob stated that he and the Presidents of the Tucson RC and Rincon RC met with Dr. Trujillo to ask what are the needs of the District and what they could do to help. Dr. Trujillo responded that a key priority for him was to have every 3rd grader reading at grade level – it is essential for their future success. He asked them to consider partnering with Literacy Connects and since that meeting a partnership has formed. The three Rotary Clubs will join Literacy Connects in a program that provides volunteers to read to children in K-3. The program will begin in January and requires 65 volunteers from the three clubs. President Bob shared this because Dr. Trujillo helped them kick off the program and it will begin in January 2019.
Dr. Trujillo thanked the Club for inviting him to speak today. He referred to Rotary as the original social network and applauded the leadership it has shown around the world. He began by saying his topic today on Literacy is not just about TUSD but about the future of Tucson and the 45K students served. We can stop many of our social ills such as poverty, and drug abuse through public education. The quality of one’s life and the positive experiences and contributions to our society one can have start with Literacy. The vision for TUSD is to be an exceptional school district by focusing on three priorities; ensuring all students are reading at or above grade level in the 3rd grade, that students are Algebra ready by the 9th grade and that students are provided exceptional and accessible (during the day)student services including counselors and social workers. He stated that if the District is able to do these things , it will literally change lives. When talking about a child’s ability to read, you are talking about universal access and opportunity.
The realistic picture faced by TUSD each day Is that of serving the 21st Century student who is more likely to come from a fractured home, to live in poverty, to be reading under grade level, and to have not had a preschool experience. They may be living in a household where they see or experience domestic abuse, drugs and alcohol. The great equalizer for these children is the ability to read and engage in literacy.
The District has launched a three prong attack in the 2018 -19 school year to address these issues. First, they have been able to address the issue of access by placing iPads and Tablets throughout the district for K-3 students. No longer are thousands of students hampered by not having equipment or Internet access. They now have access to technology and literacy supportive software. The second prong of the attack is to engage good citizens like us to work with the organization, Literacy Connects, and a program called Reading Seed. It involves one timeless act that has been used for decades and has proven to be successful, that of reading to a child. When reading to a child we model vocabulary, how to use context to figure out the meaning of words, intonation at the beginning and ending of sentences. You are able to inspire a child to read or think about a specific job or dream about places they have yet to see, all as a result of listening to you reading. Through our participation we are indeed fighting the future war on poverty and it takes place in the classroom. The third prong is to flood the forty-seven preschool programs with appropriate materials that prepare students for reading readiness. Dr. Trujillo ended by saying nothing makes his day and makes him happier than seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of Literacy Connects volunteers after a session with a child and the smile of the child. He is looking forward to this collaboration with Rotary.
The meeting ended at 1:40pm