Posted by Julie Pingston
President Sue called today’s meeting to order at the Lansing Center and thanked Courtney Millbrook for filling in last week for the meeting. The invocation was eloquently presented by Justin Sheehan which was followed by the singing of America.
 
Katie Krick handled microphone duties and introduced us to her guest Amber who is the Economic Development Director from Meridian Township. Teresa Kmetz introduced us to Megyn Forest, the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Last but not least, Julie Thomasma re-introduced recent guest Tammy, from Origami Rehabilitation.
 
Diane Sanborn provided the Health of the Club report and passed along that Dan Alyward recently had ACL surgery and is rehabilitating. Also, please keep Jennifer Marsh in your thoughts as her son got married at a beautiful wedding on Saturday and then, tragically, her nephew died on Sunday following an ATV accident.
 
President Sue announced that Bob Hoffman’s “Good Neighbor” segment on Fox 47 featuring Lansing Rotarians and how we celebrate Loftus Day will air on Friday, September 24 at 7:00 pm.
 
Time to celebrate with birthday cake!!!! Irv Nichols celebrated his 97th birthday on Monday. Irv has been a member of Lansing Rotary for 63 years. Happy Birthday Irv!!!
Speaking of birthdays, Chris Swope helped us celebrate the September birthdays. He is still working on contributions to achieve 100% but they have already collected $1225. Chris asked the September birthday group who they would like to meet and why and the responses varied from Sandra Bullock, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Neil Armstrong, Meriweather Lewis and Dave O’Leary. Happy Birthday to those who celebrated in the month of September!!
 
We were treated to very special “special music” when Ken Beachler performed September Song accompanied by John Dale Smith. What a great treat to have Ken share his talents with us!
 
Thank you to our Chair of the Month Carmen Turner and our Chair of the Day Sam Sinicropi! Sam is the former superintendent for the Lansing School District who officially retired on June 30. Sam introduced us to Ben Shuldiner who was selected as Superintendent in March and immediately started meeting people and engaging within the community even though he did not officially start in the position until July.
 
Ben recognized Rotarians Gabrielle Lawrence and Missy Lilje for their service as members of the Lansing School Board and for their support and attendance today.
 
As Ben began in his role with Lansing Schools, he worked with the community teams within the district to create over-arching goals for everyone to achieve great outcomes for kids and for the community as a whole. Three long term goals were developed.
 
1. Improve the graduation rate to 85% by 2025. Pre-Covid, it was in the mid-60% range.
2. Improve attendance rates to 90% by 2025.
3. Improve enrollment affected by school of choice to 11,500 by 2025. In 2020, the enrollment was at 9,400. The enrollment rate shows the district how the community feels about the product that is being put out by the school district.
 
While working on the big goals, there are also the very immediate concerns to address.
 
1. Mitigation of Covid. Lansing Schools is the only district mandating vaccinations. Mitigation is also helped by keeping the students in cohorts of small groups of students working together. Ben gave high praise to the Covid response team at the District.
2. The shortage of school bus drivers is a huge issue currently. Creative ideas have been implemented such as providing gas cards to families to drive to school and a great partnership with CATA for free bus passes for students.
3. Special Education
 
Ben highlighted Lansing’s Universal Pre-K which is the only program of its kind in the state. The program helps have more kids start their education in the district to then remain in the district for their full K-12 education. The program helps address the enrollment goal.
 
Ben answered questions from Rotarians and left us with positivity for the future direction and success of the Lansing School District. Anything Rotarians can do to help support the three goals of the District and provide mentoring opportunities for students will lead to greater success.
 
President Sue thanked Ben for joining us and presented him with the Rotary 4-Way Test card and mentioned the donation being made in her name to our Foundation to continue good work in the community which would also impact our schools.
 
Our next meeting will be back at the Lansing Center on October 1. See you then!
 
Julie Pingston's email is:  jpingston@lansing.org