Right after I'd signed my contract to teach at Lewisville High School, I was standing in line at Subway in McKinney, TX where I lived when I heard the customers talking about the big game. "Get everybody to come tonight," they said. "We're playing Lewisville, and you know they always travel with their people." Before I'd even joined the staff, I knew LHS was amazing because people were talking about it thirty miles away!
In addition to the busloads of fans who still chant at every game, there's the mascot Big John, a large-headed farmer in overalls holding a pitchfork who leads the Fighting Farmers to victories across the state. The Farmers are as united when they lose as when they win so it's no wonder they'd invited me to join the retired teachers of Lewisville when I'm states away, and it pained me to dismiss the invitation. Once a Farmer, always a Farmer. I love these people and the spirit of unity, but I declined the invitation because A) I'm not retired and B) I'm not in Texas.
I tell you this to invite you to think about why you join an organization. Think about why you joined DKG. Then, let's use my two reasons for NOT joining to understand what will inspire others TO JOIN Omega State!
First, the Lewisville invitation is for retired teachers. I'm still teaching some semesters so why would I want to join a bunch of women whose professional status is different from mine? For those of us who are no longer in the classroom, this means we must find ways to bridge the divide between working and retired educators. We can build this bridge by focusing on the 7 Purposes that unite all working and retired women educators. Take a look at the list. There's probably one or two that attracted you when you first joined, and there's probably one or two that made you stay.
Several Past State Presidents have said that purpose #2 drew them in. They joined DKG because it was an honor to be chosen. I joined for the honor too, but over the years, my personal favorite has become #1. Though some purposes have changed since Annie Web Blanton and her troupe of educators conceived them in 1929, # 1 has remained the same. Like all people, I long for genuine spiritual fellowship. I'm delighted when I find it with anyone, and especially delighted by the connections I've made in DKG.
- To unite women educators of the world in a genuine spiritual fellowship
- To honor women who have given or who evidence a potential for distinctive service in any field of education
- To advance the professional interest and position of women in education
- To initiate, endorse and support desirable legislation or other suitable endeavors in the interests of education and of women educators
- To endow scholarships to aid outstanding women educators in pursuing graduate study and to grant fellowships to non-member women educators
- To stimulate the personal and professional growth of members and to encourage their participation in appropriate programs of action
- To inform the members of current economic, social, political and educational issues so that they may participate effectively in a world society
Please don't just skip that list. Thoughtfully consider which purpose made you join, which made you stay, which you'd like to grow in. Then why not visit a classroom or two, see the school nurse, hang out in the lounge and talk about our purposes. Share the one that touches you most and ask potential members which one calls their names. In a week or two, send them a chatty email or card about what they said. Try again in a month and invite them to join us.
The second reason I'm not joining LHS retired teachers is that I'm not in Texas, and many working educators are simply too tired to drive to a DKG meeting after a long day of school. We can solve this distance issue at Chapter levels by thinking in creative ways. Why not hold a meeting in a member's classroom right after school? That location makes it easy for her since she's already there, and she can invite others from her school from down the hall. When you tote in snacks, teachers will come. Consider other ways you can go to potential members instead of asking them to rush to a new location. Then share your new ideas with all of us.
In closing, I'd like to say that I heard that LHS description, they travel with their people, at least 20 years ago. But it stuck with me. What kind of organization travels with their people? What inspires them, unites them, moves them to all go together? And what is worth traveling for? I say, new Omega State Members.