Retired teacher finds Alamo Rotary a perfect match | February 1, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - February 1, 2008

Retired teacher finds Alamo Rotary a perfect match

Rotarian of the Year continues to 'interact' with students

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Beth Burlingame-Randall retired after four decades of teaching and found a new vocation - again working with kids but this time through Interact and the Alamo Rotary.

The Alamo club recently named Burlingame-Randall its 2007 Rotarian of the Year for her participation in its youth projects and especially due to her work coordinating Interact at Monte Vista High School.

"She truly is our shining star and bundle of energy," said president Al Makely.

Burlingame-Randall became acquainted with Alamo Rotary when it named Bill Randall, her husband and fellow teacher at Stone Valley Middle School, as Teacher of the Year in 1995.

"That was the first time we'd come to a Rotary meeting and we saw all the wonderful things Rotary did," said Burlingame-Randall. "We said, 'That's something we want to do.'"

Both Beth and Bill retired together in 2005 - with 75 years of teaching between them - and started looking for new adventures.

"We knew some people who were members of Alamo Rotary, many were parents over the years, and it seemed like a perfect match," Burlingame-Randall said. "We believe in giving back to the community, and we taught our students to do it, too."

They said at the time of their retirement that they were planning to travel and, indeed, they just went to Monterrey, Mexico, on a Rotary trip with the Wheelchair Foundation.

It was Beth's idea to give stuffed animals along with the wheelchairs, and she bought as many as she could find and carry.

"I thought this would be a great thing if children were there," she said before she left. "I haven't got a lot of room - I'm going to smoosh in as many as can fit with my clothes."

Her main Rotary involvement is projects that involve students.

"They call me chairman of Youth Services," said Burlingame-Randall. "It's all of the projects that involve kids - distribution of dictionaries to the third-graders; money for music programs through our Music Festival."

This also means she is coordinator of Monte Vista's Interact, a Rotary-sponsored club that involves high school students in community service.

"It is unbelievably rewarding," she said. "At Monte Vista they are amazing kids, it's a service-above-self group."

The Interact Club at Monte Vista started small, with about 30, but now has 150. Burlingame-Randall credits science teacher Patti Carothers with the exponential growth.

"She's an awesome gal and we have similar views on things," said Burlingame-Randall. "Now the club's reputation is so strong that kids want to be part of it."

Interact members have served meals at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco and have raised money to fight malaria and polio in developing countries. A recent project was collecting backpacks for Ready to Learn, which makes sure that all children have the school supplies they need.

"All I did was send out an e-mail and the kids came pouring," said Burlingame-Randall.

She also teaches one day a week at Venture High School, where she tutors students in English and writing skills, especially helping them pass the high school exit exam.

Burlingame-Randall earned her teaching credential and master's degree from UCLA and taught at high school in both the suburbs and the inner city of Los Angeles. In 1974, she moved to the Bay Area and began teaching in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, which at the time had limited high school openings.

She was hesitant at first to teach middle school, she said in an interview with the Danville Weekly in 2005, but soon came to love it and remained at Stone Valley for the rest of her career. She taught English, history, journalism and drama, and was named district Teacher of the Year in 1994, sharing the honor with Louise Lotz.

But being named Alamo Rotarian of the Year was special.

"Getting this award is so amazing to me," she said. "The plaque has all the names of people who have won it in previous years."

"Rotary is something I really love," she added. "I felt really supported by the community."

Burlingame-Randall and her husband taught in classrooms side by side for many years and now are enjoying Alamo Rotary together. He joined first, Burlingame-Randall said, and is also involved in many of its projects.

Another highlight of her life is her 2-1/2-year-old grandson Dylan.

"Grandchildren are underrated," she said. "He's so adorable."