Rotary District 7070
NSRC Bulletin04-13-2022

Anthem: Danny
Toast to Queen, Canada, and Rotary: President Danny 
Attendance: 12
Guests: No guests today

1. Arthur reminded those who brought contributions for the Food Bank that he would be transporting them to the Shoppers Drug Mart in Woodside Square.
2. Danny shared how vulnerable he felt if a recent Covid test he made at home had proven positive. How could the meeting have been set up and proceed because he has been doing all the setup and tear down for the virtual meetings?  So he concluded that there must be more delegation of these tasks to other members. That will begin for our next meeting at Aurora Court on April 27th.
3. He also said that the Sergeant at Arms must be in the meeting.  His responsibility is to set out who will do what during the meeting and give that report to the President before the meeting; Directors must see that if a S@A cannot attend the scheduled meeting, there should be a backup assigned.
4. He reminded us that our meetings are in person and not by Zoom. Zoom is a convenience for those who cannot attend or a presenter as most will want to present online. 
Arthur introduced Theresa Pastore, Executive Director of Parents Engaged in Education, the Early Education Initiative. He reminded us of the importance of early education and how, in India, where he came from, his parents and many others were “obsessed” with educating their kids. Every family believes that their kids should be either doctors or engineers.  The first generation is like that, then that concern tends to slip after that. Early learning support is essential, and Teresa will be telling us all about the Parents Engaged in Education and the Early Education Initiative.
Theresa started by providing an update on their activities. She said that 14 months ago, they were serving approximately 100 kids when they opened in Feb/Mar 2021 and now are serving 1,300 children. Many of those numbers have come from Afghanistan, and they are now preparing to receive the Ukrainian children.  Some have already arrived, and they come with nothing. So even though host families will be taking them in, the children will be provided with a device and a backpack. They have distributed about 500 devices so far this year so that the kids will be well looked after should there be a break in their school instruction because of pandemic concerns. The past year has provided significant challenges offset by great joy in seeing the results. By working with partners, they have been able to meet the challenge of low-income situations, challenged by a wave of inflation. Because they have taken on so many kids this year, their funding resources have been exhausted. So they are looking for new funders to help through the remainder of the year.  On April 29th, they will be opening a “tent center” totally devoted to vulnerable youth. Thanks to the sponsorship of HP and all the post-secondary institutions in the GTA who will provide program materials and the hotel where the kids will stay for the first few days. The kids will be building their robots themselves, learning to code which is an excellent skills development.
We work with the parents and encourage them to be involved, and they become a robotics family. They have been able to provide math tutoring for all grades, and they will be involved in climate modification issues.  Art and music programming will be encouraged, and sponsors will provide instruments for the students to use.  Literacy and STEM will be the focus of much of their education. Everyone must be able to use a computer in today’s world of work.  The objective is to get the kids up to grade level and beyond, but the last two years of Covid have been causing much harm. She explained how they have seen learning loss, for example, when two or three girls have arrived and they are not talking. They are usually the youngest child of the family, and the demands on the parents for educating the older siblings during virtual learning have left them out of the normal language preparation and practice that they should have at their age-grade. Another example is that kids will select books suitable for grade 3 when they should have been reading at the grade 5 level.  The other issues showing up are the immigrant kids whose whole world has been turned upside down. Often mental stress will cause the children to retreat rather than join in with their peers.  Working with the parents is important to help to overcome this reticence.
They have made the Native Family and Child Centre a partner, the Boys, and Girls club, Scarborough Storefront, and the Kingston Galloway area. This will give these families an opportunity to access the services that Parents Engaged in Education offers. They expect 1,500 to need their services by the beginning of the next school year.
Theresa suggested that Rotary Clubs could organize “back to school” supply drives. During the first two weeks of August, most school supplies go on sale by the end of July, but they must prepare backpacks for 1500 students for September.
Danny asked her to send an information sheet to him so that we can consider it at our meetings. Danny also asked what kind of funding they were receiving. Theresa said that they had received one-time funding from the City of Toronto, $50,000, and $50,000 from the Province.  But they must secure $100,000 for the activities in 2022.
Gerd couldn’t understand that some of the kids are illiterate. No, she said, they are below their appropriate age-grade skills. This is largely the result of the disruptions of the past two school years for the kids and for their teachers, who may have to replace their sick colleagues or fill in at different grades for in-person learning.  This has been confirmed by the educators, but it has not come out from the schools s or Boards themselves.  And as to another question, she said that they are dealing with students from age 2 to age 18. For example, the team that will go to the Provincial Robotics competition is aged 14 and over.
She also said that they have a full range of reading materials in other languages. Suresh said he has found that if the child can learn to read in his/her mother tongue, they can more easily learn English afterward.  They are also encouraged to share their cultural backgrounds with other students to improve their awareness of different cultures and potentially offset racism.
Courtney was asked to thank Theresa for her presentation.
He spoke of his recent tour around Scarborough, visiting different food banks.  The theme was that we have got to work together. He pointed out how Theresa and her organization have had to reach out and create a vast network to advance their objectives to help these vulnerable kids. He also wanted to celebrate the work being done to provide remedial help. Their emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) will prepare the students for a more complex world. The other to provide remedial service to help the kids move on in their education appealed very much to him.
Theresa's presentation:
Sergeant at Arms:     
President Danny then introduced the S@A for today:  Alan Meredith, freshly returned from his vacation.
Fines were levied for misconduct by Frank for cricking and crackling during the presentation and Peter for getting up and taking his empty lunch box to the garbage (without permission).  Arthur was starting to make some noise but not as bad as Frank, but nevertheless, all three were fined $5 each.
Is this why Danny wants IN-PERSON MEETINGS so that the fine box will get heavier?
Avrum acknowledged his guilt since, as the designated S@A today, he is only present virtually. But he is distinguished and delighted now to have become a grandfather and happy to donate a happy buck or two for this young lad’s bar mitzvah in due course.
Gerd tossed in some coins thanks to Dorothy but announced that he and Dorothy will be off to England tomorrow to begin their hike along the Bruce Trail. No, no, no, that was last year or the last ten years, but this year, it will be to follow the trails, mountains, and hills along with the Lake District. They have been preparing for this adventure for almost a whole year. Alan said he should put a coin in the fine box for every pub he visits along the way!
President Danny closed the meeting and wished everyone a good week ahead.
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