The literacy project of the Rotary Club of the West Shore


 Since Dave Witmer was Rotary Club of West Shore President in about 2010, our club has given about 6,000 dictionaries to third grade students in the West Shore School District and kids in the Harrisburg Boys and Girls clubs.


Graeme Goodsir gives me credit for getting him started on the project. Really, I just talk too much. He did most of the work, including getting donations to support the effort. So it has been done with basically no "club funds", but lots of support by the club.


When a student gets one of these books, it is their own. Teachers encourage the students to keep the books in their desks because they can use them for any subject, not just English. And teachers get their own book, too!


Some years the program has included a recognition meal for 40 or 50 teachers, school administrators and interested Rotarians.


In 2016, participating school personnel were invited to share in a public, informal evaluation of the program. All who showed up expressed appreciation for the club's efforts. Some discussion of electronic resources showed that the trend is toward more work stations, but it is far from a complete transition.


All commenting mentioned that everyone, including the poorest students, gets a dictionary. Some of these students might have no other books at home, much less a computer or internet access. This fact, in my opinion, is the strongest point for continuing the literacy program.


Back a few years, I did attend a literacy conference in Macon, Georgia, hosted by the president of Rotary International. In the workshop on the dictionary project--which we currently use, I suggested we look up the meaning of "literacy". Literacy was not in the Student dictionary. It is in the dictionaries now. Dumb questions sometimes are needed to bring changes.


Please contact our club, or the dictionary project for more information on a literacy project for your club, or to share info on how you are making the world better through literacy. --David Hiebert



Scott School, Harrisburg, PA. East Shore: Student Tiana Higgins and Miss Jordan Weinsheimer,

Miss Weinsheimer was in her second year of teaching but her first year at Scott School.

Red Mill Elementary

Student Noah Buhrman, third grade, and Kelsey Rice, staff assistant. 


Teacher Sandy Gummo
Dezera Marshall