NEXT MEETING: June 28, 2013

Demotion: A time for exits and entrances

in-outThis Friday the Club bids a fond farewell to current president Jim Young. Or as Jim himself put it, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

Jim is being way too harsh on himself. His tireless efforts helped lift Rotary’s profile many notches within our city.

And of course the door swings both ways: as one soul happily steps out out another cautiously steps in. So with this meeting we welcome our new president, Liliane Koziol.

MEETING OF June 21, 2013


President Jim called the meeting to order, inviting Bob Dabney to lead the pledge of allegiance. Stoney requested a moment of silence for freedom, peace, and justice on earth. Jim then offered his Thought for the Day; “Let’s start enjoying all of this marvelous global warming we’ve been experiencing lately!”

Jim then convened a Club Assembly to vote on the non-discrimination policy, previously distributed to the club membership. There being no questions, Bob Dabney moved and Michelle Itagaki seconded to approve the policy as presented. The voice vote garnered unanimous approval of the non-discrimination policy.

Jim then put a question before the members as to their willingness to hold the August 30th meeting at the Richmond Museum, since the Richmond Country Club is already booked for a golf tournament that day. A straw vote registerd 15 ‘ayes’. The final location for the August 30th meeting will be announced later.

Visiting Rotarians

Craig Dunbar from the Redding Club joined us today. Jim also recognized John Troughton, a long time Richmond Club member. Jim then closed the Club Assembly.


  • Jim announced that there will be approximately $18-20,000 to transfer from his administration to Liliane’s beginning July 1st. As the originally projected transfer amount was $8,600 this represents a significant increase to the treasury. The Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle project officially ended with a small net operating loss of $185, a much smaller loss than projected. Jim also noted that 61% of the club membership participated in the project.
  • The joint Chamber/Rotary mixer is scheduled for August 8th at the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
  • The assets from the Lost Secrets project, including the cutout and the leftover books, will be donated to the West County Reads, project which will sell them and use the proceeds to purchase books in Spanish.
  • The club is dark on July 5th, the Friday after the 4th of July.
  • The District Awards Banquet will be held in Woodland this year. Tickets are $35 and available on the district website.
  • The July 19th meeting will be at La Strada, not the Richmond Country Club.
  • Everybody remember the upcoming A’s game on July 31st. Get your tickets now!
  • The RotoCare Clinic has asked for everyone’s help in distributing information about the clinic. Fliers are available on the tables so please take and post them.
  • Jim announced that Dan Tanita was the recipient of the coveted Jefferson Award for northern California. He invited Dan to talk about the project for which he won the award—the establishment of the dental clinic at Peres Elementary School. Dan recounted that the dental clinic was originally started in the school’s janitor’s closet, eventually evolving into a space where basic dental services could be provided, and finally into a full-service, comprehensive dental clinic this past year.

    After Dan had been featured as a “Hometown Hero” in the West County Times, he was nominated for a Jefferson Award through CBS in San Francisco. The award, originally established by Jackie Kennedy Onassis in 1972, has evolved to include regional awards, and it is the northern California award with which Dan has been honored. The club gave Dan a rousing round of applause for this well-deserved award.

  • poetry-slamOn March 1st, we learned about the value of storytelling in children’s lives from Jean Ellisen, our guest speaker that day. Inspired, our club donated money to support a field trip for an elementary school class to the Annual Bay Area Storytelling Festival.  Unfortunately the class was unable to attract a chaperone in time for the excursion. So in lieu of the trip, Jean used the money to support a Teen Poetry Slam—a new addition to the Festival. Last week Jean sent along pictures and a warm appreciation.
  • In helping others we help ourselves, a truth that many Rotarians understand. This “therapeutic effect” is explored in a feature article, The Value of Service, in last week’s issue of Time Magazine.
    Tom Waller, who flagged the article for us, highlights this quote from the article: “There seems to be a general hunger for service in the 30-and-under millennial generation; in 2011 there were 582,000 applications for 82,000 slots in AmeriCorps, the federal government’s volunteer service program. Programs like the Peace Corps and Teach for America are also bursting with applicants.”

    As you’ll read below, the actions of last week’s speaker, Tyler Hester, strongly confirm that conclusion.


  • Don Lau announced that Charlie and Jean Wong celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary.
  • Don also noted that Richard Alexander has a birthday next week for which Richard donated $100 to the cause.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Joan Davis had happy dollars because her board passed a two-year budget which includes a number of great capacity-building projects for Richmond nonprofits.
  • Lynn Martin had happy dollars for finishing the San Francisco half-marathon last Sunday. The weather was beautiful and she got to run over the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Michelle Itagaki had happy dollars for being the only one partaking at the tequila tasting dinner. She reported that the dinner was very good and that she could taste the tequila for at least two more days.
  • Alan Blavins had happy dollars for surviving the worst disaster of a trip he’s every taken. Alan went to Thailand to catch one of his dream fish. Unfortunately, it was monsoon season so he was soaked to the skin every day; his canoe turned over and he lost all his expensive camera equipment; he was hunted by feral dogs at night; and most tragically, he didn’t catch his fish. Wow, that’s a real fish story.
  • Don Lau had happy dollars because his son Joshua graduated on Father’s Day!

Norm’s Nonsense

Norm and Bonnie are on vacation, leaving us with the task of coming up with our own nonsense. Result: many thoughts, mostly mundane and unfunny. Hurry back, Norm!


Teach for America

Tom Waller introduced our speaker of the day, Tyler Hester of Teach for America or TFA. Tyler was raised in Marin and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Stanford. He worked for the federal Department of Education after which he was awarded a scholarship to attend Cambridge University in England, where he was awarded a second master’s degree. During his matriculation at Cambridge he became convinced that educational inequality is the civil rights issue of our day. Upon his return he taught English with TFA in southern California for two years and then came to the Bay Area with TFA to teach in Richmond.

Tyler joined the TFA ‘corps’ in 2008 after finishing graduate school at Cambridge. He learned a great deal about educational inequity while he’d worked for the federal Department of Education and during his studies at Cambridge. He eventually came to the conclusion that TFA was doing something positive in classrooms all over the country and joined the group, originally teaching two years in a 7th grade English class in southern California. During that period he had the highest performing 7th graders in the history of the school district where he was teaching, but despite that record, he was laid off.

Tyler said that once he began teaching his heart was changed. He became less ambitious for himself and more for the kids in his classroom. After being laid off, he came to the Bay Area and applied for a position with the West County Unified School District (WCCUSD) where he was hired and where he became motivated to help take his school from good to great. He said that Richmond is “bursting with potential” and that the students have tremendous capability.

Tyler taught four years and then applied, as his parents had wished, to complete a doctoral degree. He was accepted to the doctoral program, but at the same time was offered the position to lead the West County TFA. Because of his passion for the project, he deferred his doctoral work and accepted the position with TFA. He told us that this is his dream job and that he loves it. He recounted the story of “Victor”, a 9th grader he taught in Richmond. Victor had not been assigned any homework since the 2nd grade; he had gang affiliations; and he wasn’t ready to meet the high expectations set by Tyler in the classroom. One day Victor said “I’m going to hit someone in the face so they’ll kick me out.” Tyler visited Victor along with his family and managed to keep him in school for a long until Victor was caught dealing drugs in the school bathroom and was expelled. Victor went to continuation school where he was shot at, and while in the act of trying to shoot back, was picked up by the police. Victor went to juvenile hall. Tyler stated that there are just “too many Victors” and that its those kids who motivate him to do this work.

Tyler reported that in the U.S. if you’re poor you have only an 8% chance of graduating from college by the age of 24. Only 41% of third graders read at grade level and that if you’re not reading at grade level by the third grade, you are more likely to serve prison time. Despite ten years of consecutive academic improvement in WCCUSD, shockingly, only 2% of Richmond’s 9th grade algebra students are at grade level.

TFA incorporates a specific theory of change that includes the basic principle of recruiting and developing outstanding and diverse leaders. TFA looks for people who already have a track record of excellence either professionally or in other aspects of their lives, and they support the corps teachers to do “big things” with their kids. If they can help their kids be successful by doing “big things”, the students will learn that they can personally aspire to more. Lastly, they try to get those who accomplish those “big things” in their classrooms to devote the rest of their life to the endeavor, not always by remaining in the classroom, but by supporting the endeavor in some way that moves it forward, politically, financially, educationally, or in some other fashion.

This past year the program in Contra Costa County had 76 TFA teachers, 24 in West County schools, primarily the ones that are the hardest to staff. There are six full-time TFA administrative staff members who support the 76 teachers countywide. This year there are 10,000 corps members nationwide.

Tyler believes that young people of his generation feel called to serve. He knows he has benefited from the entirely unearned privilege of being born to a good family and growing up in Marin County. He now wants to give something back.

- Lynn Martin, Your Roving Rotary Reporter