Reading is winning recipe for Rotary members, CNE Elementary students

When you want to teach concepts such as truth, fairness, goodwill and benefits to a group of third-graders, it helps to use terms to which they can relate. Candy bars. Friends. Girl Scout cookies. Apple dumplings.

Members of the Rotary Club of Batavia read to Clermont Northeastern Elementary School students Jan. 20, part of an ongoing partnership between the club and local school districts. Clermont Northeastern High School Principal T.J. Glassmeyer is a Rotary member, and helped distribute books at the event.

Eight Rotarians participated, dividing into four groups of two to read to each of the third-grade classrooms. The book, “Andy and Elmer’s Apple Dumpling Adventure,” by Andrew J. Shoup, helps illustrate figuratively and literally, the Rotary Club Four-Way Test:

1. Is it the truth?

2. Is it fair to all concerned?

3. Will it build goodwill and friendships?

4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Shoup is associated with the Rotary Club of Fairborn, Ohio. A coloring and activity guide accompanies the book; each student received a copy.

Great Oaks Joint Vocational School CEO Harry Snyder, president of the Rotary Club of Batavia, and incoming President Victor Kubik of Batavia read to one class, engaging students with questions and sharing stories.

Snyder: “What is truth?”

Student: “The opposite of lies.”

Snyder: “What is fair? When I was growing up, if we got a candy bar and had to split it, my mom would hand one of us a knife and say ‘Cut it.’ The other one, my sister or my brother, would get to decide which half they wanted. That was a fair way to do it.”

Snyder also used the timely example of Girl Scout cookie sales to explain the meaning of the word “profit,” which was in the early part of the book.

Jeff and Judy Bertsch were in another classroom. one enthusiastically walking from table to table reading, the other showing the illustrations. Allen Shropshire and Beau Dailey entertained a third class, and Brandon Little and Susan Spanya were in the fourth room.

This is the second year that Rotarians have read to students at the school, Snyder said, emphasizing a Rotary core tenet of literacy. Members used to visit and hand out dictionaries and thesauruses at the middle school. “Well, kids now have these little contraptions here,” Snyder said, pointing to his phone. “And so we went to something about the four-way test and that’s what we shared with them, which you saw up there today.”

The interaction between Rotarians and students benefits both.

“They feel like third-grade is a good age for that book and a good age for the message of the book and what the reader stands for,” Glassmeyer said. “The students got involved and the Rotarians that come and read are very animated and they love interacting with our kids. Mr. Snyder talked to the kids about what they wanted to do in their future, which is a great conversation.”

Hubik, a former pastor who lives in Batavia and has been president of the United Church of God in Milford for nine years, said the reading event is “a wonderful opportunity for us, as it is for the kids to see somebody grown up, somebody tall.”

Elementary School Principal Tonya Schmidt said it is valuable for the students to hear about the Rotary values.

“Our partnership with the Rotary Club allows our kids to connect with leaders in our community,” Schmidt said. “The book shared with our Rockets reflects many of the same themes contained in our school pledge.” The Rotary also buys books for the elementary school’s book fair, Glassmeyer said, in addition to recognizing a high school “Student of the Month” and providing that student with a gift card, and funding scholarships for seniors.

Admiration is mutual.

“They’re great kids. Clermont Northeastern does a great job of educating our youth and helping them understand the different opportunities that are out there,” Snyder said. “I’ve been proud to be a part of this community since I’ve moved here back in ‘98.”

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