Sponsor Spotlight: Jody Melcher, Kiwanis Club of Nevada, IA

It takes a special person to devote their life to education. Teaching requires creativity, ingenuity and most of all patience, especially in schools with little resources or with students who are not interested in class. But the rewards of a life in education far surmount the obstacles many teachers face. Teachers are able to witness the learning process first hand and personally watch a child develop as a student and a person. This is the reward that drove Jody Melcher to teach for 25 years. The Dictionary Project admires Jody’s commitment to education and the positive impact she has made on the daily lives of so many students.

Get to know a little about Jody:

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now and how did you get here?

I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. I live in Nevada, Iowa now. We moved here 35 years ago when my husband accepted a job with the Federal Land Bank.

2. What aspects of you hometown (or any domicile) have shaped you into the person you are today or left a lasting impression?

When I was growing up we lived in a neighborhood that took care of each other. I learned the importance of helping others. Des Moines was and is a city with diversity. I learned to focus on how we are alike rather than our differences.

3. What were you like as a student? Does this have any bearing on how you view education or why you started the project?

I loved school and learning from day one. Reading and writing were my favorite subjects. I also taught Title 1 Reading for 25 years. I know the importance of dictionaries in both of those subjects.

4. How did you hear about The Dictionary Project?

We started because a donor made dictionaries available for all Iowa 3rd or 4th grade students free of charge. Our club ordered dictionaries and then went out to find students who weren’t already receiving them. The Rotary Clubs in Ames and Nevada were providing them to all 4th graders in Story County. They agreed to let our Kiwanis Club donate to the 4th grade students in the Ballard School District in southern Story County. We have been providing them with dictionaries ever since.

5. What motivates you to keep the project alive?

The importance of comprehension in reading and the role dictionaries play in that process. Dictionaries also enable students to use new words in their writing to make it more interesting. Of course, the excitement of the students when they receive their dictionaries and realize they get to keep them for the rest of their lives.

6. What obstacles have you faced when implementing your project and how did you overcome them?

Every September or October members go to Ballard East Elementary and present the dictionaries to the students. We tell them about all of the information they will find in these dictionaries besides words. They get pretty excited and are grateful for the dictionaries. The teachers have provided us with a list of all the ways they use these dictionaries daily. In a time when everything is available online, many feel dictionaries aren’t needed. However, these resourceful teachers have found many ways to make them relevant to the education of their students. Not all students have access to computers in or out of school. A hard copy of the dictionary is a valuable tool. Every year now we hear stories from students whose older siblings received a dictionary from us in the past and still use it. Good to hear.

7. Where would you like to see your project next year, over 5 years, etc.? Do you have any long-term goals for the project?

I hope we will continue the project and maybe get other clubs involved.

8. From your life experience, what advice would you give a grade school student?

Realize that education is the most powerful asset you will ever have. No one can take your education away from you. Education will open many doors for you and enable you to make your dreams come true.

9. Favorite book: Anything by James Michenor

10. Favorite Quote:The only thing better than doing a kindness for others is doing it anonymously.” – Greek Proverb