World of Words – The Dictionary Project

Altrusa International of Abilene is committed to promoting literacy.



Ten years ago we adopted Bowie Elementary School. Since then we have provided every child with a book and age appropriate flash cards (kindergarten – alphabet, first grade – addition, etc) and third graders get ci dictionary. In 2008 we began using The Dictionary Project from South Carolina which provides 5 different kinds of dictionaries for about $2.00 each. Our Service Chair Barbara Potluck, a former first grade teacher, provides a 30 minute lesson to show the children the many resources in the back of the book.


Last Spring Barbara had a dream – "Let’s give every third grader in Abilene a dictionary and do a lesson!" Her Altrusa friends eagerly jumped on the bandwagon! Thanks to the generosity of Kris Seale at FDLIC, Gary Sitton to honor his mother Gloria (a former third grade teacher at Jane Long) and Barbara’s son Jay Potluck her dream became a reality. Shortly before Christmas an 18-wheeler pulled up to her house with 50 cases of dictionaries. A stamping – labeling event was scheduled. We stamped and labeled for 3 hours. School principals were called and dates were set.


Shortly after that Barbara, President Happy Collins, Ruth Thompson and Jan Klassen visited 11 schools. (2 schools are scheduled for the end of April.) They gave a 35 minute lesson pointing out the Multiplication table, maps of states, planets, telling stories about Presidents, and the story of our first flag, reading the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States and telling about some of the rules in it. Several of the most important parts are marked with post-it notes. Sign language and the longest word (1909 letters) are big highlights. The children and teachers have greeted us enthusiastically and are delighted for their students to have these wonderful books! Several teachers have pointed out that their students have few books at home. Most teachers wish they could teach the things covered in the lesson. We feel we are meeting an important need in our community.


This has been such a success that we have plans to continue it next year thanks to a grant from Altrusa Foundation!


Our other projects include giving a book to every child at Bowie, and flash cards to the 600 children. For Teacher Appreciation Week” we host a Bowie Breakfast to show teachers how much they are appreciated. For Make-a-difference bay we host a Reading Rodeo”. Each class has a community celebrity reader’, including the Mayor, Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Dyess Air Force personnel and TV celebrities. Readers also tell how important reading ¡s in their job. Teachers and students dress up like their’ favorite story book character.


A fun day for all!