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The Lake Oswego Rotary Club created the 'Service Above Self: Educational Excellence' awards to honor the students, teachers, administrators, support staff and community volunteers who go 'above and beyond' to bring out the best in others in education.

What is "Service Above Self" and, quite frankly, why should any of us care about it? These are actually very good questions. The reason they are important is that they impact you, me and everyone in the community (and beyond) every single day of our lives.

This nation is made up of some of the most generous people in the world. The people of Lake Oswego clearly demonstrate that attribute on a daily basis. You see it in the simple act of people taking time out of their busy lives to help others. This includes everything from involvement in the conservation of hiking trails to feeding the homeless to volunteer projects beautifying the city to the additional time educators put into making a real difference in the lives of their students.

Let me give you a very personal example.

When I was quite young, prior to entering high school, I excelled at mathematics. But for some reason, when I entered high school and started studying advanced algebra and trigonometry (which students probably now start studying in elementary school!), it just was not "sinking in" for me. My math teacher, Mrs. Zylstra, changed that.

At the end of the school day, twice per week, Mrs. Zylstra set aside time to meet with me one-on-one to go over the classroom lessons. We would talk through the concepts of each major theme so I could understand and move beyond basic concepts such as quadratic formulas and parabolic equations. My grade in that class went from failing (D+) to an A- within one term. I graduated from high school with honors.

That was all because of one amazing woman: my teacher — the wife of a farmer who returned home to the farm at the end of each school day — who poured herself into helping one struggling child out of an entire class of students. My guess is that I wasn't the only student she helped in that manner in that school year, not to mention many other years of students for whom it just may not have been "sinking in." Mrs. Zylstra did, however, make me feel like I was the only one getting that kind of special attention — and it was definitely the help I needed at that time. That kind of success is what makes you feel like you can do much more in this world than what you had been simply settling for. I remember her clearly and fondly to this day, many years after that life-changing experience.

That's just one heartfelt example of "Service Above Self," but these types of sacrifices and teaching moments happen in our community many times every day. With that in mind, the Lake Oswego Rotary Club created an awards program last year called "Service Above Self: Educational Excellence" (SASEE) to honor the students, teachers, administrators, support staff and community volunteers who go "above and beyond" to bring out the best in others in education.

The second-annual SASEE awards dinner is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2018 at Marylhurst University. I hope you'll go to the Rotary club website at www.lakeoswegorotary.org now to nominate someone who is making a difference in the lives of people around them, just as Mrs. Zylstra made a difference in mine. Please also plan on joining us at the SASEE banquet to honor and celebrate those who are bringing out the best in others.

David Riback is a managing partner of Oswego Wealth Management and a member of the Lake Oswego Rotary Club.

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