Farragut Rotary, Ridgedale School partner in reading

Tom KingFarragut

Literacy is one of the primary focus areas of Rotary International. That focus trickles down to the districts and ultimately to the individual clubs, and the Rotary Club of Farragut is involved on two different levels.

First, Farragut Rotary members are reading twice a month to students at Ridgedale School on the first Thursday and third Tuesday of each month. The club also is a Partner in Education with Ridgedale.

Rotary’s dedication to focus areas is to build international relationships, improve lives, improve education, create a better world to support peace efforts and to end polio forever.

According to Rotary International, more than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate throughout the world. That’s 17 percent of the world’s adult population. “Our goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy. We support education for all children and literacy for children and adults,” RI writes on its website.

Farragut Rotary has 12 members who will be reading in the Ridgedale classes through the end of school in May. Our program began last September.

“The feedback that I have received from about three or four of our Rotarians is that it was an enjoyable experience and they’d do it again,” says Teri Jo Fox, the club’s co-chair of service projects. The Rotarians read to both special education students and to the students in middle school alternative classes.

Kristi Phillips, in her first year as Ridgedale’s principal, says the reading project seems to work better with the younger special education students. “We allow teachers to structure this so it works for everyone,” Phillips said. “I know of one instance where we combined some older special education students with the younger ones and it worked great.

Kristi Phillips

“This program with Farragut Rotary is the only program the school has with outside readers coming into our classes,” Phillips added. “The teachers have spoken very highly about this program. It’s a nice change of pace and something different to engage the kids. The feedback has all been positive.”

The club’s other literacy initiative involves Ball Camp Elementary School. Annually, Farragut Rotary has between 40 and 50 speakers presenting programs on an array of topics. Many clubs give speakers cups and pens or other things to thank them.

Farragut Rotary asks that each speaker sign a new book to be presented to the Ball Camp library suitable for students in grades K-5. Many schools’ budgets have included cuts to the libraries. Ball Camp appreciates these books.

The club has another Literacy project coming up … and it’s an exciting and fun one.  That’s a column for a Thursday just around the corner.

If you’re interested in exploring membership in Farragut Rotary, drop me an email at tking535@gmail.com We meet at 12:15 p.m. each Wednesday at Fox Den Country Club. You also can call me at 865-659-3562.

Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor at two newspapers. He started writing for KnoxTNToday in 2017.

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