Dictionaries help students succeed in school

Dear Mary French,

Every Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM we have our Sun Lakes Rotary Club meeting. It is always great to go to meet and greet all of our many friends in that club. Today was exceptional in that about twenty of them just returned from being away from the really hot weather we have in the summer.

However, today was an exceptional day under any circumstances because of two reasons. One was that Hal Wochholz, the fellow I wrote the article about, said his public "thanks" for being involved in THE DICTIONARY PROJECT. He told of what a joy it was to be able to get together with all of the young children in the schools, which I thought was terrific. What a guy he is!

We also honored what we label as our "Teacher of the Month." The local school system is given the opportunity for principals and others to nominate a ‘teacher of the month’ who then competes to be selected and honored. We make a big fuss over this person with an introduction to the entire club, along with giving the nominator a chance to say something about that teacher. Her principal said, "Before I tell you about this wonderful person I have something else I would like to say. This is a very exciting day at our school because one or more of you will be coming to our school today to give dictionaries to all of our third-graders. We just appreciate so much that your club does this for the youngsters that we care so much about. One of the things we do weekly is allow the students to each select a book that they can read in school for one hour each week. We have been so pleasantly surprised to find that a good portion of our students elect to read their dictionaries rather than any book they select from our school library!"

She then said, "The dictionaries have served a very special purpose for us in that every school in the state of Arizona must be tested yearly. One part of the test is over contemporary information concerning our nation, our presidents, our constitution, the solar system, and on, and on. We are so pleased that whomever decided to put this dictionary together had the good sense to include all of the special information that is included at the second portion of the book. We are convinced that this is a major reason that we have been given an "A" rating in our state because our students soak up so much valuable information while studying their dictionary!"

You have undoubtedly received applause from all over the country for the value of the dictionary to the students, but I certainly had never had anyone get up in front of a group of about 100 persons and publicly thank us for always bringing the dictionaries to their students each year! And especially, that it could serve such a valuable function in preparing their students for the yearly testing program.

I just wanted you to know, and to say "thanks" to you personally, and to all of the others who produce this fine resource and distribute it to us.