By Ted Barber
Club President Shane Collins opened this week’s meeting with a warm welcome, while Art Peterson led everyone in prayer. Tyler Kelley led the group with the Pledge of Allegiance and Ted Barber offered his rendition of “Home on the Range”, with Art Peterson echoing on key at the start of the second chorus. Tyler Kelley asked this week’s “Did You Know?” question. “In 1985 Terry Anderson was taken hostage in which Western Asian City?” The correct answer came from several of the Rotarians, including both Russ Wade and Art Peterson with the answer of, “Beruit, Lebanon”.
Art Peterson was responsible for this week’s guest speaker, and he went with having fellow Rotarian, Mike Ripplinger tell us about his work regarding the teaching approach under his administration. He has a consensus that the Pre-K program will be increased from around 50% to 75% or even 80%. This Lake Butler Elementary School initiative will involve a “no teacher names” and “student performance” after the “special needs” students are situated. Statistics show that the 1st three grades (Grades 1 – 3) are critical to the student’s ability to be successful in reading and math, and that those students that fail to achieve success have an 86% failure rate. Qualified teacher retention will be emphasized. Our community’s tax base, and highly rated school system are the primary draws we have for retention. At graduation, Ripplinger wants all graduates to not only get the Union County High School Diploma that they earned, but also receive certificates of completion on programs such as Business Tech (coding and robotics), agriculture, criminal justice and the health field. The biggest challenge for our school system is the projected $15.00 minimum wage salary that takes effect in 2026. Our county’s tax base combined with Federal and State assistance makes this a difficult objective. With cooperation from the Union, the plan to increase the hourly salary by $1.00 per hour each year on July 1st looks promising. Mike was very complementary on the excellent position that Rotarian, and former School Board Superintendent, Carlton Faulk and his administration allowed him and his new administration.
Congratulations were given to Rotarian Joe Edwards on his upcoming wedding next week! We all wish him and Courtney a happy and blessed life together.
Our upcoming Lake Butler Rotary Programs include: March 23rd – Sara Owen; March 30th – Tyler Kelley; April 6th – Brian Reagan; April 13th – Mike Ripplinger; April 20th – Jack Schenck; April 27th – Jennie Reed; May 4th – Kaleb Archer; May 11th – Ted Barber and May 18th – David Beatty.