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Buffalo Rotary and Lorraine Elementary School:  Partners in Learning

By Deann Sheppard, retired educator
Lorraine Elementary School, Buffalo Public Schools

Rotarians serve as mentors at Lorraine Elementary School in south Buffalo, as they have for the past 27 years!  Each year new mentors are trained to join the veteran mentors who are paired with students in kindergarten through 8th Grade.  Mentors meet with their students each week of the school year, keep journals, and focus on reading and writing.

Mentors build relationships with students, many lasting long after the student graduates from Lorraine School.  We cannot measure the importance of what they do, but we see success every day, every week.

At Lorraine Elementary’s graduation ceremony, Paul Marzello presented the 22nd “Spirit of Rotary Award” to Scott Wilson, a terrific young man who has gone on to high school. Photo left -right: Paul Marzello, Deann Sheppard (Mentoring Program co-chairs), Scott Wilson, Scott’s Mom, grandmother, and Dad.

A student drew a picture in his journal of two people, one tall and one small, with a beautiful rainbow around them both.  When asked who they were, his response was:  “Me and my mentor!”

As part of these invaluable relationships, Buffalo Rotary also provides opportunities for young people to experience cultural events and participate as volunteers at Rotary Sunshine Day at Cradle Beach. Each year the kids and their teachers are special guests at a Rotary luncheon.

We are grateful and indebted to all Rotarians, Trocaire College, and retired Lorraine teachers who have served as mentors to our students over the years, especially for helping them see the rainbows!

Three mentors, Paul Marzello, Suzanne Taylor, and Dave Male.

In his 2015 State of the State address, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York State’s recommitment to mentoring by reestablishing The New York State Mentoring Program, chaired again by his mother, Matilda Raffa Cuomo, former First Lady of New York State (1983-1995). Her leadership will help allow New York to once again lead the way in mentoring children toward successful outcomes with a renewed emphasis on one-to-one mentoring, innovative programming, and ongoing support for the needs of children in our state.  Rotary’s dedication to Lorraine Elementary is part of this outstanding program.

Benefits of Having a Mentor

  • Mentees are 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs than their peers.
  • Mentees are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip class.
  • Mentees are more trusting of their parents or guardians, and are less likely to lie to them and feel more supported and less criticized by peers.
  • Mentors from Buffalo Rotary encouraged young people to stay in school, improve attendance, academic achievement, and overall academic focus.  They inspire students to make sound decisions and take on higher levels of personal responsibility for their actions at home, in the classroom and in the greater community

Interested in serving your community?
Consider Joining Rotary.

The Rotary Club of Buffalo meets every Thursday at noon at the Saturn Club for lunch and to hear prominent and timely speakers.  Be our guest at your first meeting and check us out. Call 716-854-3397 or email Heather at and lunch is on us!

Visit Buffalo Rotary and

Enchanted Evening

Thursday, February 21 from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Sportsmen’s Tavern

What better way to meet some Rotarians than at this networking social event.  Enjoy Beer, Burgers and Blues with the Willies. Open to the public – bring your friends! $35 for non-members.  Reservations 716-854-3397 or click here.


Lead photo: Paul Marzello (in hat) and Ron Canestro, reading to the children at Lorraine on Dr. Seuss Day

Written by Rotary Club of Buffalo

Rotary Club of Buffalo

The Rotary Club of Buffalo is made up of committed neighbors, community and business leaders dedicated to making Western New York a better place to live since 1911. Since 1989 the club has awarded grants of more than $1.9 million to local community organizations. Learn more about the Rotary Club of Buffalo: Join us at one of our Thursday lunch meetings at 12:15 PM at the Saturn Club, 977 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo for powerful speakers, timely topics, and fellowship.

Join leaders. Exchange ideas. Take action.

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