Monroe Rotary Club’s mission of ‘Service Above Self’ extends to third grade classrooms

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jack Zamary distributes dictionaries to students at Stepney Elementary School. Photo by Lisa Martinsky

In a long-standing tradition stretching back over 10 years, members of the Monroe Rotary Club, including Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jack Zamary, visited all three Monroe elementary schools recently to distribute more than 200 dictionaries to third grade classes.

At Stepney Elementary School, students listened intently as Rotarian David Wolfe explained the ways the Rotary supports education in communities all over the world, including contributing donations to fund a mobile library for villages in India. “Education is very important to the Rotary Club,” said Wolfe. “Internationally, the club gives educational scholarships, builds and improves schools, and promotes literacy.”

Recalling the number of times the club has distributed the dictionaries, Wolfe asked the students, “How many of you have older brothers and sisters and have seen this book before?” Hands shot up across the cafeteria at Stepney Elementary School where nearly 80 third grade students waited for their dictionaries.

“Dictionaries are great because if you drop a computer, it will break, but if you drop a dictionary, it doesn’t break; the words are still there,” one third grade boy said, recounting a story Wolfe had told the students.

After describing the Rotary Club’s mission of “Service Above Self,” Wolfe and fellow members Dr. Zamary, Kathleen Bailey, and Philip Lindstrom handed out the yellow books to eager hands. Students dove right in, opening their dictionaries and discovering the wealth of knowledge inside:  the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, a list of past U.S. Presidents, as well as information on states and countries.

“I like looking at different words to help me spell,” an eight-year-old student exclaimed, holding her new dictionary.

Students aren’t the only ones who look forward to this annual tradition. Teachers and administrators say the dictionaries tie in nicely with their curriculum. “We are currently learning map skills, so the kids have not only enjoyed looking up new words, they’re also fascinated by the maps in the books,” said teacher Rachel Grindrod.

Principal Bruce Lazar agreed, “students look forward to getting their dictionaries and remember the Rotary Club handing them out for many years.”

The Rotary Club meets every Thursday morning at 7:30 at the Stone Barn.

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