Description of Program:
Andy & Elmer's Literacy Project was developed by the Rotary Club of Fairborn, Ohio and TokoBooks, and has been adopted as an Annual Literacy Project by many clubs throughout the U.S.. It is centered around a children's picture book designed to promote the Four-Way Test. Andy & Elmer's Apple Dumpling Adventure is the story of a young entrepreneur who starts an apple dumpling business. With the guidance of a mysterious voice, conveying the Four-Way Test, he turns his venture into a wonderful success and makes friends along the way. "Service Above Self" is the theme of the sequel book, Becky and Lyn's Apple Orchard Park.
Rotarians read these books to second graders in local schools, follow a provided lesson plan to talk about words that might be unfamiliar to students, discuss how we determine what is right and wrong or why people serve in our communities, and then distribute paper-back activity books to each student for them to take home. The workbooks allow the students to revisit and engage with the story, and allow parents to discuss the themes of ethics and community service as well.
The Laramie County School District 1 district goal is, "Students will achieve academic success, graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary education, be career ready, and be responsible citizens." Foundational to that goal are the needs of the children of Laramie County for literacy and ethics. The need for children to be literate is obvious, and reading to children and providing them with books that they can read is key. In addition, children today are looking to the culture at large for simple ethical guidance, and many adults are not setting a good example. Children often have parents that are working multiple jobs or are otherwise absent, while politicians, celebrities and athletes in the public eye often set poor examples for the youth. When tackling simple ethical dilemnas such as cheating or lying, or more complicated issues such as bullying or when to tell an adult, youth need the tools to make the right decisions. Children, like adults, are searching for direction to do the "right thing."
"Ethics" is derived from the Greek word "ethos" which means "character" or "conduct" - concepts that Rotarians are very familiar with. As you know, Rotary's foundational focus is built on literacy and education as well as ethics. Constraints and demands on instructional time, risk management of both Rotary clubs and schools, and technology have significantly reduced Cheyenne Rotary's ability to meet the student's needs through some prior Rotary programs. As our Rotary club has been reevaluating our current programs, we've noted that programs such as providing dictionaries to all third graders and our "Read to Me" program of providing Rotarians to classrooms to read to students have outlived their ability to meet the needs of youth in our community. At the same time, Rotary is in the perfect position to help meet the existing literacy and ethics needs of students throughout Laramie County. "Service Above Self" and "The Four-Way Test" can provide powerful opportunities to positively influence the youth in our community in a non-partisan and non-sectarian way, while also supporting literacy.
Andy & Elmer's Literacy Project materials consists of two children's book, most appropriate for second or third graders, as well as an activity book and other items to reinforce the concepts in the classroom and at home. The materials can be used to implement the project in multiple ways, depending on the commitment and funding available in each community. Hardcover or soft cover books can be provided for each child, or each classroom, or each elementary school library. Coloring and activity books can be provided to each student for use in the classroom, and for reading and taking the material home to share and learn outside of instructional time. Posters of the Four-Way Test are available for reference to the Four-Way Test in the classroom during the school year. Book marks can be provided to each student that remind them of the Four-Way Test. And lesson plans are available to assist both teachers and Rotarians in presenting the material, including new vocabulary words and working Rotary concepts, all free of charge.
The first book, Andy and Elmer's Apple Dumpling Adventure, is a book that helps teach the "Four Way Test" and how one can use this to make the right decisions in all aspects of life, even when the right choice isn't obvious. The sequel, Becky and Lyn's Apple Orchard Park, is being releases soon, and we anticipate similar materials will be available for this book as well. Nationwide, Andy & Elmer's Apple Dumpling Adventure has sold over 115,000 of the Activity Books, a combined total of over 60,000 of the Hardbound and Paperback Picture Books and almost 200,000 Bookmarks.
For more information about the Andy & Elmer literacy program, or to watch a video presentation of the book, please go to: http://www.andyandelmer.com/home.html
The Rotary Club of Cheyenne envisions that this program would include providing two hard cover copies of each of the two books to each elementary school library in Laramie County, a soft cover copy of each of the two books for every second-grade classroom, a Four-Way Test poster for each second and third grade classroom, a copy of the workbook for each student in second grade throughout Laramie County, and a Rotarian to read this book to students and provide short discussion at the invitation and discretion of each school and teacher in each Laramie County school at least once during the school year.
We have approximately 35 elementary schools with primary grades and approximately 60-65 second-grade classrooms in Laramie County, with the ability to touch approximately 1,400 students in each of second and third grades each year (including home-schooled and Boys and Girls Club members). This application is requesting initial funding for the permanent materials for each school: two copies of the hard cover books to be placed in each elementary school's library, one copy of the soft cover books for each second grade classroom, and a Four-Way Test poster for each second- and third-grade classroom, in Laramie County. All books and communications will include clear markings and information about the funding of the program through the Rotary Clubs of Cheyenne and the Cheyenne Rotary Foundation.
Funding for activity books for each 2nd grade student in Laramie County will come from the annual Rotary club budgets. The Rotary Club of Cheyenne will use funds freed up from discontinuing the dictionary project, and will be applying for any available District grants. In addition, we would like to provide hard-cover books for Rotarians to purchase for their children or grandchildren, to share our Rotary values and to raise money for the program.
We will be asking Rotarians from all Cheyenne clubs to volunteer to read to students during library time, and to present basic literacy and program discussions. While we may start with one contact with students during each year, the curriculum can provide us with the ability to expand to multiple contacts during both second and third grades to reinforce and expand on the basic concepts. A teacher or library assistant would always be present, and Rotarians would be required to submit to the LCSD1 background and ID check. Brenda Creel, a retired education professional, has volunteered to teach Rotarians some basic classroom management techniques that will enhance the ability to effectively reach students. When Rotarians are not available to present in a school, the lesson plans will allow for library assistants or other school staff or volunteers to do so.
This project will be a county-wide project, and will include the participation of multiple Rotary-based clubs on an on-going basis. We believe that all of the Rotary Clubs in Cheyenne will partner to provide a consistent program throughout Laramie County. The Cheyenne Rotary After-Hours Club is already providing copies of the activity book to students in LCSD1's South Triad. Rotary Club of Cheyenne will also be approaching the Cheyenne Sunrise Rotary Club to participate. Rotary program chairs will provide information about the program and lesson plans to all participating teachers. Interact Clubs will continue to help our Rotary clubs mark all materials as donated by Rotary, and will sort the books for distribution to the schools. Rotary and Rotaract volunteers will deliver the materials to the schools, and will read and present lessons.