Joan Parris from VTT presents Sierra Leone trip to North Branford Rotary

Joan Parris recently returned from Sierra Leone as part of the Vocational Training Team (VTT) which was sponsored by the Norwalk Rotary Club. Joan Parris, Ronnie Katz,  Florence Falkowski,  Eugenia Chinsman and Dr. Cynthia Barnett departed for Sierra Leone on Jan 11, 2014 and returned January 28th. The VTT project took place at the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology and the Baana Prepatory School in Freetown, Sierra Leone with an emphasis on basic education and literacy.

The Norwalk Rotary Club is hosting a VTT Team Presentation on March 12, 2014 at The Norwalk Inn & Conference Center at 6:30pm for those who are interested in learning more about this amazing journey. Your can reserve your spot through their Facebook Page or emailing President Brian Falkowski  at Brian.Falkowski@fnfg.com

Norwalk Rotary Vocational Training Team departed for Sierra Leone today

Joan Parris; Ronnie Katz; Florence Falkowski; Eugenia Chinsman, Dr. Cynthia Barnett; AG John Hendrickson

Joan Parris; Ronnie Katz; Florence Falkowski; Eugenia Chinsman, Dr. Cynthia Barnett; AG John Hendrickson

Norwalk Rotary Club President Brian Falkowski, his fiancee, husbands of team members, AG John Hendrickson, and DRFC Rick Benson gathered at the Norwalk Inn today to say farewell to our VTT Team.  With the rain, fog, and traffic accidents, one team member was 30 minutes late arriving at the Norwalk Inn for their limo to JFK to start their 2 week VTT adventure in Freetown, Sierra Leone, but all were underway by 1:50 PM.  Our team will return from Sierra Leone January 17 and a team from there will visit Norwalk and our District in late April.  All of our team members are experienced Early  Childhood educators who will share their skills with counterparts in Africa.

Eugenia Chinsman, (Norwalk RC- VTT Committee member); Ronnie Katz, Joan Parris; Anne Farrell, Cynthia Barnett (Norwalk RC, Team Leader), Florence Falkowski

Eugenia Chinsman, (Norwalk RC- VTT Committee member); Ronnie Katz, Joan Parris; Anne Farrell, Cynthia Barnett (Norwalk RC, Team Leader), Florence Falkowski

The Norwalk Rotary Vocational Training Team finally departed from JFK this afternoon to Sierra Leone after clearing more administrative and bureaucratic hurdles than any group of dedicated volunteers should have to endure. The team was originally scheduled to leave on Jan 4th but paperwork problems from previous grants between Freetown and Rotary International had to be resolved first. District VTT Chair Nancy Riella was steadfast in her resolve to make this global training grant happen as she tenaciously worked the halls of Rotary International to get the final approvals needed (an egg or two might have been broken in the process). DRFC Rick Benson called in a favor or two with a few of his contacts while PDG Colin Gershon  provided important behind the scenes support in arranging for the Team’s financing.

Norwalk VTT Members

Norwalk VTT Members

This VTT project will take place at the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology and the Baana Prepatory School in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The emphasis is basic education and literacy. Due to continual civil wars, Sierra Leone’s educational structure was destroyed. There is a need for updated teacher training curriculums to prepare infants – 5 year old children for school. Additionally, there is a need for improved curriculums, teachers and educators to train the Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers.

VTT Chair Nancy Riella helping the Norwalk Rotary Club

VTT Chair Nancy Riella helping the Norwalk Rotary Club

The direct beneficiaries will be all the children of Sierra Leone through education; the ECE teachers because they will have updated training with hands on experience; the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology due to exposure to current best practices and curriculum improvements.

This VTT is a perfect example of a project that is possible through The Rotary Foundation.

Photos 1 & 2 by PDG Rick Benson

Select photos from 6 Rotary Club Holiday Parties this week in D7980

North Haven Rotary – On Saturday 12/14/2013 five other Rotary Clubs cancelled their parties but North Haven Rotary held theirs during the nastiest of nights above the North Haven Funeral Home. The party was hosted by The Havens and Catered by Anthony’s in New Haven.

Westport Rotary – Tuesday 12/17 was another snowy Connecticut Day but that didn’t stop the Westport Rotary Club from hosting the Orphenians during their Holiday luncheon. Attendees were treated to fantastic music as well as a delicious lunch.

Norwalk Rotary – Norwalk Rotarians turned out in big numbers at the Norwalk Inn yesterday for lunch to enjoy the spirited performance by the Norwalk High School Chamber Singers.

Old Saybrook Rotary – The Club held their Holiday gathering at the Hideway in Old Lyme last night. Gerri Lewis organized a rather elaborate grab bag swap, delicious meals (too bad I couldn’t stay for that) and a nice cocktail fellowship before the meeting. It’s always a pleasure visiting OSR!!

East Hampton & East Haddam Rotary – the two Club’s came together for a joint Holiday party last night at the Gelston House in East Haddam for a very big turnout with excellent fellowship, music, food and recognitions.

Norwalk Rotary prepares to launch Vocational Training Team to Sierra Leone

The Norwalk Rotary Club is just about ready to launch their Vocational Training Team (VTT) project to Sierra Leone. If things go according to plan then the US Team will leave on 1/4/2014.

VTT Chair Nancy Riella and Eugenia Chinsman of the Norwalk Rotary Club have been working on this $30,000 Global Grant application for the better part of 2013 and like all things Rotary; “they are this close”.

The team is just awaiting word from Rotary International that Freetown Rotary Club in Sierra Leone has cleared up the remaining administrative hurdles.

The Outbound Team members from D7980 are as follows:

  • Cynthia Barnett
  • Joan Parris
  • Florence Falkowski
  • Ronnie Katz
  • Anne Farrell

This VTT project will take place at the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology and the Baana Prepatory School in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The emphasis is basic education and literacy. Due to continual civil wars, Sierra Leone’s educational structure was destroyed. There is a need for updated teacher training curriculums to prepare infants – 5 year old children for school. Additionally, there is a need for improved curriculums, teachers and educators to train the Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers.

The direct beneficiaries will be all the children of Sierra Leone through education; the ECE teachers because they will have updated training with hands on experience; the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology due to exposure to current best practices and curriculum improvements.

The USA VTT team will be composed of ECE experts that will observe current teaching practices, curriculums, and ECE programs. The emphasis will be to use the observations gained in Sierra Leone to create and maintain a ECE program that can be replicated through out the country. this program will serve as a flagship program to support the national teacher education program. The Sierra Leone VTT team will observe ECE programs in a variety of pre-schools, work with Norwalk Community College to enhance the teaching curriculum at the Milton Margai College whose objective is to establish a program to teach ECE.

Updates will be provided to this project as they become available.

Official Visit #9 – Norwalk Rotary Club

President Brian, New Member Rebecca and DG Rick Bassett

President Brian, New Member Rebecca and DG Rick Bassett

The Norwalk Rotary club has been a very active partner in the community since 1929 supporting various community service projects and being a prominent vendor at the Norwalk Oyster Fest. They distribute dictionaries to all Norwalk 3rd graders each year and have helped fund the library in a Charter School in South Norwalk

The club is currently working on a TRF VTT Global Global for Early Childhood Development Training in Sierra Leone.

Much has changed since 1929 (understatement of epic proportion) including the membership and potential membership demographics of the city. The city of he Norwalk has undergone a transformation from being a manufacturing hub to being a service based economy like many parts of the US. The gradual economic shift has had a negative impact on club membership. President Brian Falkowski, President-elect Chris Cooke and the board are committed to leveraging the 6th largest population in Connecticut and growing the membership of the Norwalk Rotary club in the coming years. They took the first step today by inducting a new member.

The board is also committed to expanding and honing their public relations efforts to streamline communication and stakeholder messaging. More fellowships are also on the horizon.

The Norwalk Rotary club meets at lunchtime on Wednesdays at the Norwalk Inn. They are a very nice group of Rotarians which makes this an ideal place to drop-in for a make up.