By Kristin Schultz
Hats off to the Niskayuna Rotary, which on Jan. 18 will be honored by the Schenectady City School District Educational Foundation at its annual fundraiser at Proctors.
The service organization was chartered in Niskayuna in 1955 and has been serving the area ever since. For the past four years, the club has spent time and money in Schenectady’s schools — Lincoln Elementary in particular — with hopes of encouraging students to stay engaged, expect more from themselves and graduate from high school.
“They provide a lot of services to kids and teachers in the district, particularly in Lincoln School,” said Bill Schultz, president of SCSDEF.
Among those services are regular visits to the classroom to teach special lessons, help with reading and math, and providing computers and educational computer programs.
Niskayuna Rotary started helping its neighbors by providing dictionaries to district third-graders. On one delivery, a Rotarian asked a teacher if she needed anything else.
She responded: “I could use a pencil sharpener.”
“It started with dictionaries and [evolved] to computers,” said Rotary club secretary Lon Penna.
The Rotary has worked with GE Elfun Computer Rehab to put dozens of computers and educational software into the hands of students and teachers. In 2016, Rotarians installed computers in 12 students’ homes.
The computers are donated to Computer Rehab, and retired GE employees refurbish the machines and make them available for $10, which covers the cost of the Microsoft operating system.
The machines come preloaded with educational software, including Khan Academy. Many students do not have internet in their homes, so the software is loaded onto the hard drive so students can access the programs without needing internet access.
Students can access math software through sumdog.com — a subscription funded by the Rotary.
Rotarians also volunteer their time to go into the classrooms and teach special lessons on topics of the students’ choosing. Subjects have ranged from the Titanic to Bernoulli’s Principle — which relates how airplanes take flight and stay in the sky.
The Niskayuna Rotary also funds field trips, teacher supplies, books for the classroom and more.
“Being in the school provides opportunities to serve,” Penna said.
Service is the cornerstone of Rotary International and is a lived value at the Niskayuna chapter. The group works to create a better world through local and global efforts, including education, commerce and exchange opportunities.
To help the SCSDEF celebrate the Niskayuna Rotary, you can attend the fundraising event on Thursday, Jan. 18 at Proctors from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Tickets are $40 and may be purchased online at scsdeducationfoundation.org/celebrating-education or at the door.