It’s not easy taking over as adviser of a National Elementary Honor Society (NEHS) chapter, especially if you’re already teaching full time. To help some of the new advisers where I teach in Hillsborough County, FL, I started hosting breakfast chats last year to share ideas and offer support.

These chats include a dedicated group of people. They are willing to travel across our county, which can be a long drive for some of them, and to meet on a Saturday morning on their own time. The main topics are what you would probably expect: induction, service projects, and ideas for new chapters. We spend up to two hours just building our knowledge of how to promote the four pillars of NEHS (scholarship, responsibility, service, and leadership) in our schools and our communities.

People have shared many creative ideas because, with the pandemic, one challenge has been organizing service projects. Some of these ideas have included community clean-ups at local schools, beaches, and parks; donating and delivering socks to nurses at a local hospital; and sewing dog toys for the Humane Society, and they’ve inspired others to engage their chapters in similar efforts.

For each chat, I have a loose agenda of things I want to cover, but I feel like sharing ideas and answering questions is the best part. It’s nice for the new advisers to know that other people have similar questions and experiences. I also love that everyone goes back and shares what they’ve learned with other advisers. At about 1,200 square miles, we’re a big county so there’s no way we can reach everyone in person through the breakfast chats. But attendees can help others who are also looking to make their chapters as successful as possible.

And since these are breakfast meetings, there are always treats—food but also little NEHS treat bags for advisers that might include pens, keychains, and helpful information. Each meeting has a theme. December was the holidays, and our next one in February will be Valentine’s Day.

One more thing that everyone leaves with is phone numbers and other contact information for all the attendees. That way, they know there’s always another adviser they can call on for help.

For future meetings, I’m hoping to expand a bit. I’m going to be reaching out to secondary school advisers. And we want to involve other chapters, too, and maybe work on a group community service project. One thing we did that I’m especially proud of was a fundraiser we held to buy NEHS shirts for a chapter at a Title I school that didn’t have as many resources as some of our other district schools.

About the Author

Donna Tippin is a fifth grade teacher and NEHS adviser at Bryant Elementary School in Tampa, FL. She is also the 2021 NEHS National Adviser of the Year.

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