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Tuesdays at 7:00 AM
Peace Lutheran Church
06321 Blue Star Memorial Highway
South Haven, MI 49090
United States of America
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Real Life Science Project
Rotarians joined in the annual salmon fish planting in the Black River on May 7. Bob Metzen and Dave Campbell are pictured with teacher Barb Raak who coincidentally is our Educator of the Year at the planting. Fourth and fifth graders first bred the salmon in chillers donated to the school by Rotary. Then, one-by-one, the developed fingerlings were carefully launches in the river. This is a project conducted in partnership with the South Haven Steelheaders.
Educator of the Year Barb Raak pictured with President Melinda Gruber
South Haven Rotary Honors Educator of the Year
A South Haven resident dedicated to helping students achieve success as they begin their college education has been presented with the 2024 Education and Service Award from the Rotary Club of South Haven.
Barb Raak, a 4th and 5th grade teacher at North Shore Elementary School, received the award during the Rotary Club’s annual scholarship fundraiser dinner on April 27th .
The award recognizes a South Haven resident in the education field who exemplifies the attributes of quality teaching, mentoring and community involvement. Rotary contributes a $500 grant to the South Haven Public Schools Foundation in honor of the Educator of the Year recipient.
“Barb has been an amazing teacher for over 25 years. She has organized and facilitated the professional learning community activities for the 4th and 5th grades, leading her grade levels through various curriculums and programs that have been utilized by the school district.” wrote Joe Allen, Principal of North Shore Elementary School. “She keeps up with what our school age children want and need then works
tirelessly to make our student’s day not only enjoyable, but highly productive.”
Barb has an exceptional way of working with parents to make sure the interests of the students are understood and being addressed as a partnership.
Barb Raak began teaching in Covert then came to South Haven Public Schools 26 years ago. She earned her undergraduate degree at Western Michigan University and her advanced degree at Grand Valley State University.
Barb is part of an innovative program called “looping”. In this program the teacher remains with the class of students for their entire 4th and 5th grade academic years. The teacher, support staff and students have two years of continuity in lessons, intellectual and emotional development and relationship building that improves their readiness for
6th grade and middle school. Barb went on to say, “…the students’ growth emotionally, academically and socially during those 4th and 5th grade years is amazing. The whole team of parents, teacher and support staff, can see the big difference this is making in these young people’s lives. This truly is the work of a community of educators, staff,
parents and the students themselves.”
In addition to all that she does to help the students in the classroom, Barb and her husband Jim also work with the schools in a field-to-table program providing fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables to the school cafeterias at reduced cost through their Dutchman Orchards and Dutchman Farm Market family farm. When she is not in the
classroom or working the farm, Barb is coaching Junior Varsity softball or working the scoring table at various school sporting events. Joe Allen commented that “Barb is fully involved in our community and she is much appreciated. I can’t imagine what North Shore Elementary School would be like without her.”
When asked, what gives you joy in your role, Barb was quick to answer that it was her role in designing and implementing the “looping” program for 4th and 5th grades and then experiencing how much the children benefited and valued the time together. Her energy lights up our interview when she describes stories about the joys and challenges
in receiving these children at the end of their 3rd grade and then getting them ready for 6th grade two year later.
Melinda Gruber, President of the Rotary Club of South Haven remarked: “We are so proud of Barb. She has worked tirelessly for the children in our schools for so many years and the results are outstanding. Many of her students return years later, as young adults, to work summers on her family farm or in the farmer’s markets because of their respect and admiration for Barb as their teacher. That is an honor that speaks for
itself. We congratulate Barb as the Rotary Club of South Haven’s Educator of the Year for 2024.”
Pictured are: (LtoR) Heather Welsh-Johnson, Executive Director SHAPE, Rotarians Mary Sue Lyon and John Mellein.
South Haven Rotary Supporting SHAPE Beach Safety Programs
The Rotary Club of South Haven is proud to support the South Haven Ambassadors Program and Education (SHAPE) to help advance their mission to “…create an improved level of safety for South Haven's main attraction - Lake Michigan.
Heather Welsh-Johnson, Executive Director of SHAPE accepted the donation on behalf of the SHAPE organization. She noted that the gift will help to cover the costs of additional printed materials for the upcoming season. These materials have proven effective in reaching a large number of residents and visitors, raising their awareness about the dangers of Lake Michigan, especially rip currents, and how to stay safe in the water by knowing when not to enter the water and when to get out of it. The materials also provide information about alternative safe
and fun activities for red-flag days.
According to Rotary President Melinda Gruber water safety is a
primary focus of South Haven Rotary’s public service initiatives. The past few years have seen significant investment in life jacket and life preserver stations on the beaches and piers and red- flag day alternatives at the splash pad, Mitten Museum and Maritime Museum.
Rotary is proud to be partnering with SHAPE and its ambassadors ‘with sand between their toes’ to carry this important mission to people right at the water’s edge. Rotary would like to echo SHAPE’s commitment, as published on their website, “…to create a safer
environment for beachgoers and ultimately save LIVES.”
Tom Ruesink is Our 2024 "Club Hero"
We are pleased to name Tom Ruesink our "Club Hero" for 2024. Each year our Rotary District invites all member clubs to name their "Hero". The honorees are recognized at the annual District convention. A Rotarian since 1983, Tom has served as the Club’s master of Arms for many years.  As such he runs the “happy bucks”  and  50/50 drawing at each club meeting.  Tom also coordinates the the annual member donations to “We Care”  at the Christmas party. His" cheery”  and pleasant demeanor always puts our members at ease and makes the club meetings very enjoyable.   Tom attends most if not all Club functions and has been a “staple" of the Club. Tom’s dedication to the club’s success exemplifies his “service above self”, and it is with great pleasure The Rotary Club of South Haven names Tom  our "Club Hero"
In Honor of Rotary International
South Haven Rotarians marked Arbor Day 2024 with the traditional planting of a tree in the community. This year a Tulip tree was planted in SHOUT Park. Our club began this tradition in 2018 in honor of Rotary International Founder Paul Harris.
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Birthdays & Anniversaries
Member Birthdays:
  • Matthias DeJongh
    May 17
  • David Campbell
    May 19
  • Scott Mark
    June 3
  • Sandra Reno
    June 24
  • Holly Boyd
    June 30
  • Dene Hadden
    June 6