Rotary’s Dictionary Project Comes Full Circle in Massachusetts

After learning about The Dictionary Project in the late 90s, the Rotary Club of Acton-Boxborough decided to visit several local elementary schools and hand out personalized dictionaries. Little did they know, one third grade student from their 1998 project in an Acton-Boxborough School would become a teacher – and not just any teacher – a third grade teacher.

Today, Mairin Gulliver teaches at Luther Conant School in Acton, MA. This year when Rotarians came to Ms. Gulliver’s class to hand out the dictionaries, she told them that she received her personal dictionary from the Rotary Club when she was in 3rd grade and still has it! She remembers the day when Rotarians came to her class and gave each student their own book. “I remember taking my book home and flipping through the pages to find new information,” said Gulliver. Today, she uses the donated dictionaries in her classroom to teach basic dictionary skills through a treasure hunt activity. After the strategy-based lesson, the students get to take their books home to use for their spelling and language arts practice work sheets.

When asked why paperback dictionaries are important, Ms. Gulliver explained that having a personal dictionary puts each child on the same playing field. Although resources and learning materials can be monitored in the classroom environment, teachers, like Ms. Gulliver, recognize that not every child has access to a computer – or even books at home. “Like our motto here at Luther Conant School, the whole child is the whole idea, we want our students to have every resource available to be successful,” said Gulliver.