The Rotary Club of

Ojai Rotary Reminder Newsletter
September 10th, 2021

Bret Bradigan, Editor
September is Basic Education and Literacy Month
Are you an established professional who wants to make positive changes in your community and the world? Our club members are dedicated people who share a passion for community service and friendship. 
Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.
In the Beginning...
On another glorious late summer day as morning crept into the afternoon, the do-gooders in Rotary filed into to St. Thomas Aquinas’s Fellowship Hall for another welcome in-person meeting of the Rotary Club of Ojai. Our president Betsy Watson gaveled the assembled to a semblance of order on or about 12:10 p.m.
Greeting the assemblage was/were Suzanne Scar with Deirdre Daly and Mike Scar taking our lucre, in a room beautifully set up by the team of Bill Prather and Andy Gilman.
Dr. Carl Gross led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and then Bret Bradigan invoked the memory of Sept. 11, 2001 and the subsequent chaos with the prayer his cousin’s wife found useful when cousin Billy was on active duty in Afghanistan, as reprised from the bestselling book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” As partially thus:
“Live beneath your means. Return everything you borrow. Stop blaming other people. Admit it when you make a mistake. Give clothes not worn to charity. Do something nice and try not to get caught. Listen more, talk less …. go an entire day without criticizing anyone. Learn from the past. Plan for the future. Live in the present. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.”
Visiting Rotarians and Guests:
Visiting Rotarian Louanne Fay, as well as Rebecca Ryiz, Donna White, Sandy White and Renee Holbrook.
Our new big screen TV for presentations
Family of Rotary:
Family of Rotary announcement: Betsy told us that Fred Coleman had moved out of Ojai to the Pacific Northwest to be with family after a health scare. And that Dick Weirick was also recovering. Cards were passed around for both gentlemen.
On This Day:
Prez Betsy told us that on this day in 1945, the famous Fruita, Colo “Mike the Headless Chicken” lost his head and continued to live another 18 months before choking to death. She read it on the interwebz so we know it’s true.
Rotary Cartoon
Confessions and Fining:
Confessions were up first and that was Greg Webster doubling up on prior fine congratulating Dr. Morse for her successful bond measure campaign, which as a parent of OUSD-bound kids, he appreciated.
Sue Gilbreth also confessed that son Connor had completed over the summer his Certified Nursing Assistant program in a record 8 weeks.
In a segment known as “Better Know a President,” Bret Bradigan read off some interesting facts about Betsy, (buried amid an assortment of plausible lies)  such as that she was born in New York City to a doctor father and mother who ran the office and volunteered extensively.
Her favorite places to travel as a young girl were Montreal World’s Fair and her grandmother’s house. Her first job was babysitting and her Rotary sponsor was Dr. Fauvre.
Her favorite basketball was not John Wooden but Dean Smith and she did witness Michael Jordan’s famous buzzer-beating NCAA championship shot (though as a post-grad).
The questions did not stump Tony Thacher, Bob Davis or Bill Prather but did raise a nice sum for the club’s good works.
Andy Gilman introduced our own Dr. Tiffany Morse, superintendent of Ojai Unified School District. Dr. Morse was named this year’s Region 13 (Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties) Superintendent of the Year by the Association of California Schools Administrators.  She began at OUSD in 2019. 
Her favorite quote:
“I want to live in a world where no one ever says, ‘I don’t get math‘ , people are no longer hungry for simple solutions to complex problems, and iPhone batteries never die.”
Tiffany spent two years working with a different kind of drone as a professional beekeeper before moving to Ventura County.
She ran us through the district’s busy slate of projects, including the new community pool coming onboard, the $650,000 grant received for a solar backup generator of Nordhoff High School, the Family Fund reaching out to needy families in the district, the mental health strain of social isolation during the pandemic and the school’s outreach to troubled students.
The pandemic has impacted the schools tremendously, though she said only 10 students have tested positive in the few weeks since the schools re-opened in person with mask mandates. She talked about the school’s adherence to the state and local requirements, and she told the story of one student who self-isolated after feeling the first symptoms, which alleviated the necessity to do contact tracing and laborious quarantine protocols. She did say the mask mandates have caused the schools to lose about 50 students (of the 3,300 enrollment) and that while final figures are not in, teacher and staff vaccination rates are expected to be between 85-95 percent.
Another topic was the freshly made school meals and the importance placed on feeding students during the pandemic.
At this time, should an outbreak occur, there are no plans to return to distance learning. Dr. Morse shared her experiences with the difficulties of teaching strictly on-line, that it took her five years of actual distance teaching to become proficient, and that teachers are asked to do more with less and at no time was this more true than since March 2020.
She also talked about Ojai’s unfortunate standing as the lowest salaried district in the county and her desire to boost not just teacher pay, but classified workers as well, giving the challenges of running a district that relies on its staff.
After running through her brisk and informative presentation, she fielded a barrage of questions and compliments on the thorough improvement in the look of the district, the enrollment numbers (holding relatively steady, or declining no more than the rest of the county, despite the high cost of Ojai living. For example, the district only has 5 bus drivers, two of whom are out sick, leaving some bus routes out of commission. Another topic was the public’s use and misuse of school facilities, neighbor complaints around Topa Topa School, the growth of the Summit School program and its innovative partnership with homeschoolers.
Betsy closed out the busy meeting with this quote from 20th century newspaperman George Matthew Adams:
“There is no such thing as a self-made  person. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the makeup of our character and our thoughts.”

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