President David opened the meeting at 12:30 PM, led in a pledge of allegiance to our flag, and introduced David Klaus to sing a musical inspiration. David led the Club to sing a Thanksgiving Hymn, “The Hymn of Joy”.
 
Secretary Mike Carmichael welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests:
Visitor
Host or Home Club
Work
Shadine Jankovic
Awad Morgan
Department of Justice
Anne Benefield
Past President, Potomac, MD Club
Geneva Presbyterian Pastor
Mike Watson
Bob Watson
Securities & Exchange Commission
 
Acting Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Harper recognized Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:
Peg Schoen - Nov 24
Peg was sponsored by Marlene Thorn when she joined in 2009. Her classification is Law: Media Relations.
 
Dan Mullin - Nov 25
Dan joined our club in 2008, sponsored by Balraj Gupta. His classification is Insurance.
 
Shaun English - Nov 26
Celebrating his birthday on Thanksgiving this year is Past President (2013-2014) Shaun. He joined our club in 2003 and was sponsored by Greig Cummings. You will hear from Shaun next month as he chairs our annual Club Foundation Fund Drive!
 
Asif Bhally - Nov 28
Asif joined our club in 2013, sponsored by Larry Margolis. His classification is Financial Consultant.
 
Bob Shriner - Nov 28
Past President (1999-2000) Bob joined our club in 1977, sponsored by Edgar Peterson. His classification is Consulting: Business Management.
 
Rob Warne - Nov 30
Past President (2006-2007) Rob joined our club in 1994, sponsored by Donald Duvall. His classification is International Trade: Korean Affairs. 
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS 
 
President David encouraged the club to read the latest issue of the “Rotarian” magazine. He also reminded the club members to identify and secure sponsorship opportunities for the D.C. Duck Derby.
 
President David gave a reminder of the Club’s new guest policy. The Club pays for a guest’s first lunch for a qualified Prospective Member of the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C.   Eligibility is determined by the member inviting the guest (using the Four Way Test as a guide). The new guest forms were distributed 11/25 and  include a section for guests to indicate if they are prospective members. If the member or his/her guest does not make the distinction on the new form,  or if it is not their first visit to  our club, the guest will need to pay for lunch, or the member’s account will be charged for the guest’s meal for $35.
 
Rotary Leadership Institute Part I will be held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday December 12. This seminar will be held in the Law offices of K&L Gates Law Firm, 1601 K Street, NW, Washington DC (Andy Cook's office). It is a full day, starting at 8:30AM and ending about 4 PM. It will be exciting and well worth your time. For more information, visit our Club website.
 
Jim Freeman introduced speaker Suzanne Funk, who is the Director of the Geneva Day School in Potomac, MD. Suzanne Funk holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Special Education and Early Childhood Education, and is a professor of education at Montgomery College. She is also the Special Education Program Specialist for the United States Department of Education, and serves on the Illinois Special Education Council.
 
Suzanne Funk’s message emphasized the importance of childhood education. She opened her speech referencing her personal experiences with her Rotarian father, who often spoke of the Four Way Test as guidelines for his own children. She was excited to share her words about her passions of early childhood education and special education, and how it has advanced over the decades. She conducted a “pop quiz” and asked the audience to raise their hands to identify which grade level they began their formal education. The majority of the audience responded that they started in first grade, with kindergarten, and preschool following as the next most popular choices. Suzanne called teaching a noble and important profession, and reported that 25-45% teachers in early education leave the profession after the first year. She gave remarks on making a positive impact on students, which makes teaching a rewarding profession.
 
 Suzanne gave background information on the origins and increased importance of early childhood education. Early childhood education transitioned from supervised play and storytelling, to now focusing on education and supporting all children so that they are available for learning. Kindergarten programs began in the 1800s and focused on handwriting, social skills, and fine motor skills. During the era of World War II, the need for child supervision increased when men in families were away at war and women were brought into the workforce.
Brain research conducted over the past decades concluded that the first 3 years of early development are the most critical years in a child’s life. Research also led to government funding for school programs that focus on early development for low income families, more specifically Head Start programs. Head Start programs have been very successful, and a long-term study revealed that children that participate in Head Start programs are more likely to finish school, earn more income, and are less likely to fall into crime.
 
Suzanne discussed a language study that explored the oral language interaction of children in various families. The study found that some children heard 30 million words more than other children, and these words were also more positive. Children from professional families hear the most words, then children from working class families, and children from welfare families hear the least amount of words. The 30 million word gap presents a challenge for teaching professionals when children enter early education programs, and the effects can persist throughout the child’s life. Suzanne emphasized the importance of talking and reading to children in preparing them for school.
Today, all states mandate that children start school by age six. However, starting school at the critical age of five in kindergarten is only required by 15 states and the District of Columbia. Some of these programs are funded for full-time classes, some are funded for part-time classes, and some states require parents to share the expenses. Locally in D.C., MD, and VA, full day programs are funded for children who are five years old.
 
Suzanne stated that children today are given assessments and expected to have more knowledge upon entering school; this knowledge is heavily dependent upon successful preschool programs. More responsibility for preparing children for school falls on early childhood education programs.  Educators are found in a dilemma between pushing for greater academic readiness, and determining what is developmentally appropriate.
Today, more students with special education needs are included in early education programs, allowing the school to strengthen their programs and the child to have experiences with the developing population. Locally, teachers encounter international students that have cultural differences, which must be considered while educating the child. Preschools today are required to provide academic instruction, while considering the cultural context of the child.
 
Suzanne also shared a previous partnership between Geneva Day School and two Rotary International Clubs in India that provided a classroom and a kitchen for tsunami victims in India. She hopes that the children that benefited from this project will aspire to be Rotarians and continue efforts of good will in the future.
 
Q&A:
 
The first question was, given all of the research based development of policy, how did education become so controversial on every level?
Suzanne replied that education is important, but education alone is not the answer. Lots of funding has been provided for education programs, but the focus is not on the whole child. It’s not just the learning, but the family, the local culture, opportunity, and many other issues. Research is important, but all factors are not being considered, and a lot more work needs to be done.
Another comment was made referencing the foundation of the human psyche, balancing masculine and feminine forces, and the effect this has on maximizing potential.  Suzanne summarized the comment and agreed that there should be a balance in discipline, between the warm & fuzzy and providing structure, and also stated that children should be allowed to take risks in learning.
 
The next comment/question mentioned the trend of parents spending more time working and working harder, and asked about the effects of this phenomenon on early childhood development compared to prior decades.  Suzanne stated that families today often aren’t in the same location, and that structure and support from extended families contributed to the success of past generations, which we can’t always count on today. High quality staff will ease the minds of working parents and make sure children develop in all areas.
 
The last comment asked about identifying learning styles/ modality in children and how they develop. Suzanne defined learning styles as the methods and senses children use to gather information. She said that a good teacher will speak, show, and ask children to do things. She stated that learning styles can be identified as soon as a child starts school, and they are also starting to see multiple intelligences develop in a child. There are nine or ten areas of development within a child, so the real question is not how smart a child is, but in what ways is that child smart? Noticing what a child likes to do helps to identify learning styles, and these are components of development that manifest early on.
 
President David presented Suzanne Funk with a certificate honoring her as guest speaker and the tree that will be planted in her honor.
 
Raffle: Abrahem Helal won the small pot of $27 and did not win the large pot.
 
Lisa Cohen announced that she finished her book and she extended an invitation to her book launch party on Saturday.
 
President David announced our next program Wednesday, December 2, 2015, which will feature UN Association Director, Donald Bliss.
 
He thanked Awad Morgan for conducting today’s Raffle, Stu Shalloway and Balraj Gupta for staffing the Hospitality Desk, and Raven Canty for writing today’s Meeting in Review
 
The meeting adjourned at 1:24 PM.