Rotary to start Dictionary Project in Radford Public Schools

 The Rotary Club of Radford has received official approval from Superintendent William Charles (Chuck) Bishop of the Radford Public Schools to start a Dictionary Project for Grade Three students in the Belle Heth Elementary School. Directors of the Radford Rotary Club adopted a resolution to initiate and support, on a continuing basis, the supply of dictionaries to all Grade Three Students in Radford.

The idea to start a Dictionary Project in Radford arose in December 2009, when Rotarian Anne Churchill was making up a meeting in Colorado at the Aurora-Fitzsimons Rotary Club, where her daughter, Mair, serves as Club Secretary. Rotarian Anne was very impressed with the success of the Dictionary Project conducted by Rotary Clubs in the Denver area over the past five years. In particular, it was reported that a substantial improvement in academic performance of Grade Four Students was evident in those students who received dictionaries in Grade Three.

The Dictionary Project had its beginnings in 1992 in Savannah, Georgia, when Annie Plummer donated 50 dictionaries to a school near her home. Later on, Bonnie Beeferman sold crafts to raise enough money to provide dictionaries to schools in Hilton Head, South Carolina. By 1995, Bonnie had so many requests from local schools that she contacted a Charleston, South Carolina, newspaper asking for support. Mary French read the resulting newspaper article, and realized that covering schools effectively would require serious fund raising, so with her husband, Arno, she started a 501(c)(3) non-profit association, and The Dictionary Project was born.

Since 1995, with the support of countless sponsors, more than 10 million dictionaries have been distributed to local schools.The Dictionary Project is already well established in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but apparently no such projects are active in the New River Valley. Having secured the approval of the local School Administration, the Radford Rotary Club hopes to bring to the Grade Three Students in Belle Heth Elementary the benefits of dictionary ownership and usage, such as becoming skillful communicators and resourceful learners. Accordingly, it is the goal of the Radford Rotary Club to elicit the cooperation of teachers and parents within the school system to highlight the award of a personalized dictionary to each Grade Three Student, and to foster its use throughout the student’s educational career and life experience.