Simplify and Possibilities are two words that captured my attention at the DKG International Convention in Nashville. I could not identify exactly where I heard them; perhaps I heard them several times. I wrote them down to remember because they are important words to know as we "Engage our Future" in Delta State (Missouri). Engaging our future is the second phrase in my theme for this biennium.
The times I have tried to simplify my life are so numerous that you would get lost in the retelling of the tales. Most of the time this process involved cleaning out closets, purging possessions and making lists. The closets never stayed clean and the possessions were still purchased. That is not the kind of simplifying that I am discussing.
So what does it mean to simplify in term of your chapter? While most chapters do not have closets to clean or much stuff, they may still need to look at what the word means for them. How do you simplify in a chapter? My first thought is that this process will look different for each chapter. Just as we are each individuals, each chapter has its own unique needs, challenges, and responsibilities. Do remember what worked for one chapter may not suit yours at all. While it is great to share ideas, please adapt and adopt them to work for your chapter.
I would begin the process with members by asking them to discuss the things the chapter does that provides the most meaning for them. What would they toss if given the opportunity? The discussion should be open, honest and non-judgmental. Just because something is mentioned does not mean that you will toss it out the window. You may find that there are marked similarities between what your members say or you may find that there is little consensus. In any case, make change with a loving hand and kind consideration for the feelings of others.
Remember, to simplify does not have to be a negative term. It can be a time of refreshing change and an opportunity to focus on things important to our members.
The second word is Possibilities which can offer exciting opportunities for our members and chapters. What can your chapter offer to its members, area schools, and fellow educators? Perhaps you can offer support to early career educators. Maybe your local library could use a donation to purchase children's books. Maybe you could reach out to young mothers by providing books for babies and toddlers. Maybe you could help the effort to wipe out hunger by supporting a local food pantry. The possibilities are literally as numerous as the needs and challenges your schools and communities face.
Spend a significant amount of time discussing your chapter's possibilities. No matter how large or how small the chapter, you can make a difference in your community and school. Do not be discouraged by a lack of funds or small numbers, just dream. When you have settled on a task or project, then begin finding ways to work on it.
As you work through this process of Simplifying and discussing Possibilities, I think you will find they have much in common. Often we need to simplify in order to tackle the important possibilities. I challenge our chapters to simplify and dream of the possibilities. In doing so we will become relevant to our members and to others who will want to join a team that is making a difference. Keep me posted and let me know how your chapter is progressing.
From the Recipe File
This recipe was a favorite of my aunt and other family members. It was served at many family gatherings.
Aunt Dee’s Firecracker Potato Salad
1 1/2 ounce envelope sloppy joe seasoning mix
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
6 cups boiled cubed and peeled potatoes
1 cup diced celery
6 boiled eggs (diced)
Mix sloppy joe seasoning mix and water together, set aside. Mix potatoes, eggs, celery in a large bowl. Add mustard, mayonnaise, pickle relish, and sloppy joe mix. Stir. Sprinkle paprika on top. One egg may be reserved, than sliced instead of dicing and used to garnish the top of the potato salad.
My article last issue ended with a couple of paragraphs about change. Here is an excerpt. . .
Change is often difficult and we often resist it not understanding how it could possibly be beneficial...
Each chapter will need to examine the changes that may need to happen for their individual group - what works for one may not work for another. Try to put on the glasses of a younger member who may have a limited budget, small children, and the demands of the teaching profession. Then find the flexibility to serve them. More later...(Deltagrams, Spring: Volume 68, Issue 1, p. 7)
After reading that you may have questions, such as: "How do we change?" and "What do we change?". The challenge to change can be daunting, but it can also be enlightening and invigorating. In the process, we can learn new ideas and find new ways of accomplishing our purposes. We should spend significant time listening and questioning both members and potential members. Surveys, informal conversations, and specific opportunities can all be used to learn what works for your group.
As your chapter begins reflecting about how you might do things differently remember to keep a sense of humor when events and ideas do not go as planned. Celebrate the successes that you have. Above all, enjoy the journey as you tackle change in your chapter.
Here is an acrostic to help you along the way:
Delegate the work.
Keep kind, caring connections at the heart of the chapter.
Grow personally and professionally through DKG opportunities.
Mentor a younger member-she may just stay around for years.
Involve all members in programs and projects.
Share the joy of membership with other potential members.
Short business meetings are a blessing.
Organize meaningful projects and programs.
Understand the demands current educators face.
Report your success to state officers - it helps to share ideas.
Inform members of DKG opportunities at the local, state and international level.
Try this simple but so delicious recipe.
1/2 cup melted margarine
1 2-layer package yellow cake mix
3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 eggs beaten
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
Combine margarine, cake mix and 1 egg. Mix well. Press into a 9 X 13-inch dish. Combine confectioner's sugar, 2 eggs and cream cheese. Mix until smooth. Spread over cake mix layer. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and then cut into squares.
Delta State (DKG Missouri) is alive and well. Chapters have wonderful activities. Diverse projects such as Bucks for Books and Raising Readers plus numerous others show an involvement in the community. Chapters have dynamic and interesting programs. From a Mark Twain impersonator to the story of a restoration of an old schoolhouse to choral groups, members are informed and challenged with new information and helpful knowledge. Vital programs such as having a book share or learning about Pinterest remind us that learning among our members is a lifelong pursuit. Members are enjoying great food and fellowship at meetings. Laughter and helpful support exist in nearly every chapter meeting. Chapters are supporting Early Career Educators (S.E.E.). Scholarships are being given to support the continued education of members. Aspiring teachers are given grants-in-aid to help complete their education.
Some of you may ask the following after reading my introduction. How can that be? Our chapter is losing members. We can't retain new members. Our attendance at our meetings is dwindling. Everyone in our chapter is retired and perhaps even tired. Have you looked at our state membership statistics-aren't they going down each year? While I might have to agree with the truth of your statements, I would ask you to look at this with another perspective.
Your members and chapters are doing these fantastic things and supporting many good causes despite a declining membership. You are maintaining your vital interests in learning and your communities even though you have fewer dollars and members. Let's try looking at the glass as half full and not half empty. Our Delta State (Missouri) chapters are working.
Lest you think me completely unrealistic, I do know that we need to address our chapters’ needs and dilemmas. You are correct, we can't continue to lose membership and remain a viable organization indefinitely. I am proposing a few solutions or suggestions that might help your chapter.
First, let us look at the items that make your chapter strong. Perhaps it is the wonderful fellowship you have. Maybe your president has a gift for lively meetings that inform and entertain or you have a great project that supports literacy in your community. Find those items that make your chapter strong and let everyone know what you do well. In other words, don't let your chapter be a secret. Let the world know who you are. When you complete a project, make certain that there is a news release in local papers. Share your chapter events with colleagues and area schools. Make contacts with the school administrators and let them know who you are and what you do.
When you are tempted to be discouraged take a few minutes and list three great things about your chapter and DKG. Members need value for their dues. Make certain that everyone knows the value. Examine and promote International programs. Encourage participation at the state, regional and international levels. In other words, get the word out about the wonders of DKG.
Second, support your officers. Say thank you often and get them small gifts, write thank you notes for their efforts. Don't leave them to do all the work. Volunteer to help in specific ways. Maybe you could volunteer to call members who have not paid their dues for the treasurer. Your president might like help in gathering materials for the meetings. There is an old saying that "It is lonely at the top.", but it certainly doesn't have to be. Members can be available and make being an officer a great job.
The next suggestion is perhaps the most difficult. Perhaps we need to embrace some changes. The world of the 21st century is not the same as earlier years. Who would have thought that a handheld device which I carry much of the time would allow me to call my grandchildren and see them? Thirty years ago my mother had to be satisfied with a long distance call to her grandchildren that was made when the rates were less expensive. Just as the devices we use on a daily basis have changed, so should our organizations.
Change is often difficult and we often resist it, not understanding how it could possibly be beneficial. I am not suggesting we lose that great fellowship or the support for our schools and teachers. Those are timeless and at the very heart of who we are and what we do. Evaluate your chapter and see what might be preventing younger members from staying. For example, do you still have an attendance policy? It could be eliminated. A member who pays her dues is in good standing. Are there traditions that need to change? Do business meetings need to be shorter?
Each chapter will need to examine the changes that may need to happen for their individual group - what works for one may not work for another. Try to put on the glasses of a younger member who may have a limited budget, small children, and the demands of the teaching profession. Then find the flexibility to serve them. More later. . .
This recipe is simple, yet so good.
1 white cake mix
1 cup cream
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup coconut shredded
Bake one white cake mix in 9” x 12” cake pan. Remove from the oven can and punch holes throughout the cake with a fork. Mix in a separate bowl both milks and cream. Pour over the cake. Top with whipped topping. Sprinkle with pecans or coconut or both if you prefer.
What if some twenty plus years ago, my friend had not nominated me for membership in DKG? What if she had decided that I was simply too busy? What if she had decided that I had too many family responsibilities? What if she had decided that I was not interested? The answer to the these “What If” questions is simple; I would not be a member. After thinking about this, I decided to list the things I would have missed.
The honor of serving my chapter in many offices and thereby developing leadership skills.
The humbling honor of being Delta State president
The fellowship of many DKG members at all levels
Attendance at enlightening and beneficial state conventions, regional conferences, and International conventions
Learning from fascinating keynote speakers at state and international functions
Being encouraged and inspired by the many dynamic, creative, and energetic members of Delta State
While I stop there, the list could be much longer. DKG offers so much to women educators. I am grateful for my dear friend who introduced me to DKG. She opened a world of experiences that continues today.
Why don’t you take just a few minutes and reflect on your personal answers about what you would have missed if you had not become a DKG member? I imagine your list would be as long or longer than mine.
Now, think about your colleagues. What are they missing because you have not nominated them? Delta Kappa Gamma has so much to share with women educators. Think about the difference you could make for that young teacher who has taught less than five years. The support, friendship, and scholarships offered by our organization could make a great difference in her life.
Perhaps you are thinking that you do not know any active educator. Take a look at the New Member Recruitment Plan at www.dkg.org. It is located under Committees and then Membership. Here you will find a strategy that allows you to introduce DKG to educators whom you have heard about, perhaps from an article in a newspaper, a presentation at an inservice, or even a grandchild’s teacher. It’s an exciting method to honor educators and build our chapters with creative, energetic educators just as we have always had.
Now what if . . . we share our fellowship, friendship, and support with someone else by asking them to join DKG. The results could be amazing and enriching to both our chapters and Delta State.
This pie is quite good and simple to make. I like it served with whipped topping since it is very sweet.
1 unbaked 8 inch pie shell
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
Dash of salt
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
Put sugar, flour, and salt in the pie shell. Mix with fingers. Pour milk over sugar mixture. Do not stir or mix. Dot with the butter. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over top.
Bake at 350 degree over for 50 minutes. The filling never completely sets. May be served with whipped topping.
I am excited to be your Delta State (Missouri) president. I am excited to be a DKG member. I am excited to be working with the creative and enthusiastic members of Delta State (Missouri). We really do have a great group of members. I look forward working with each of you.
In this first column I would like to introduce myself. I live in rural Missouri in a house that is my husband's family ancestral home which is over 100 years old. Of necessity through the years, I have learned to operate power tools, tear down walls, and put them back up. My grandmother was a skilled carpenter, but I am afraid that skilled is not a world that applies to me yet. I have three children, three grandchildren, and three dogs. My husband is a retired teacher so we call education the "family vocation". My educational experience includes being an English teacher, librarian, and technology director. If I have spare time, I enjoy reading, attending auctions, and traveling. Some of my favorite travels have been mission trips to Russia, Venezuela, and Costa Rica. Of course, visiting my grandchildren is always a highlight.
Honoring our heritage . . . Engaging our future is my biennial theme. As we look at the phenomenal history of DKG, we can be amazed at the foresight and work of our founders. They were twelve women who determined that women should be recognized and promoted for their value and hard work in their educational careers. They formed DKG to provide that opportunity of for all women educators. While our world may have changed since 1929, we are still committed to promoting the personal and professional development of women educators. Plan to join me at the state and chapter level to make a difference in the lives of women educators during these next two year and beyond.
Throughout the 2015-2017 biennium, I look forward to meeting many of you and visiting your chapters. Please contact me if you would like to have me visit a chapter or council meeting. Also, should you have questions please contact me.
Did you ever need to bake cookies and had almost no time? Try this recipe:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 2-layer package white cake mix
¾ cup oil
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Combine the cake mix, oil, chocolate chips and egg in a bowl and mix well. Shape into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes.
Recently a question was asked regarding Presentations. If you would like to present, there is a form on this site under resources. You can also contact Cay Sergent or check out the newest edition of Deltagrams!
The second year of this biennium has started at a fast pace. All of my family was home for the Fourth of July and that was a very nice way to start.
I have made visits to 2 chapters and will be attending the Finance Committee meeting next week. After that is International Convention in Indianapolis. I don’t have any meetings scheduled in August. I have 1 scheduled in September. We plan to be out of state during the latter part of the month so I can’t schedule any meetings for that time. I already have 4 meetings scheduled for October.
I am hoping to visit every chapter and/or Coordinating Council during this biennium so if I haven’t scheduled a visit to your chapter please contact me with a possible date(s) and we will try to schedule a visit.
July 9——meet with Beta Kappa Chapter
meet with Zeta Chapter president
July 17—Finance Committee
July 27—Aug. 1 —International Convention in Indianapolis
Sept. 6—Alpha Psi Chapter
Oct. 4—Tau Chapter
Oct. 13—Jefferson County Coordinating Council
Oct. 18—Beta Iota Chapter
Oct. 25—3 chapters—Alpha, Chi, Alpha Alpha
I have enjoyed reading the Chapter President's reports. Fifty-five of our 50 active chapters reported for an amazing 92% return! Thank you so much.
It is always exciting to hear what your chapters are doing. I am happy to announce that T.H.A.T. is alive and strong. Thirty-six chapters reported that they are doing something to support our early-career educators. That is exciting! The five greatest areas of support were in providing gift bags for beginning teachers (including snacks, educational supplies, etc.), volunteering in the classroom (tutoring, grading papers, preparing rooms for beginning of school year, assisting with class parties, chaperoning students on field trips, Academic Bowl, etc.), providing supplemental classroom supplies, individual contact throughout the year and mentoring. GREAT JOB---WELL DONE!
I am now looking forward to seeing all of you at the area conferences. Thanks for a great first year as your president.
I have attended several chapter and council meetings as well as the State Planning Meeting. The State Planning Meeting was held August 10 at the MRTA Building in Jefferson City. Fifty state members participated in planning for the next biennium.
September 7 was a Delta Chapter Meeting where I had the privilege of helping initiate nine new members into Delta Kappa Gamma.
Congratulations Delta Chapter and the new members!
On September 14, I met with the Southwest Coordinating Council at the Botanical Gardens in Springfield. The guest speaker was a volunteer from the Butterfly House which showcases native butterflies. There were between 30 and 40 members present at this meeting.
October 5 was a joint chapter meeting of Epsilon and Alpha Gamma Chapters. Karen Scott presented a program on Lost and Found ---a grieving program for children who have lost a close family member.
I then traveled to St. Louis for 2 Council meetings. The St. Louis Coordinating Council met on Saturday, October 12. The speaker presented a program about Lewis and Clark. On Monday, October 14, the Jefferson County Coordinating Council met. The program was on Thailand. There were between 30 and 40 members at each meeting.