Friday, February 5, 2016

Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

     I often use the expression, Smooth sailing never a skillful mariner makes.  Recently I experienced it when told, “No, we can’t do that for you anymore.” While I believe the benefits of doing it far outweighed the concerns, I had no choice but to accept the answer. However, that obstacle, while briefly painful, became a refreshing, motivating and energizing opportunity for me.  I had to consider alternatives, look for a different way of getting the information, and it forced me to consider whether even doing it was worthwhile.  
     In retrospect, I did what I probably should have done before being told "no." I developed a little creativity and then within ten minutes directly connected with women educators in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia and Kansas. I apologized for needing to confirm their DKG membership as I do not personally know all 77,000 members. But, in those connections I met new friends; was affirmed by each one in a different way; and increased the number of members in the DKG International Facebook group composed of 800 + members who want  an opportunity to exchange ideas and make connections. I didn't start this group but felt a responsibility to help facilitate their desired connectivity.

     This Facebook group, as opposed to the official DKG Facebook Page, is composed of DKG members, many of whom love to connect and share with each other, post information about their chapters, state organizations (in some cases their personal honors), and even share their plans to attend regional and international meetings including most recently, the 2016 international convention in Nashville.  Several of those I contacted had never participated beyond the chapter level, but expressed pride in their DKG membership.
     If you are wondering where I am going with this, let me tell you.  It is simply to challenge you, and especially members of DKG, to pursue your dreams, overcome your setbacks, don’t break your toothpick on a marshmallow and refrain from blaming others for your circumstances.  We all face obstacles, some of our own making and others imposed by others, but it is how we respond to them that matters. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and don’t believe that an obstacle may present an opportunity for professional and personal growth. That is our choice.

     Order often comes from chaos.  Obstacles and disappointments can be blessings in disguise. Out of discord seeds can be sown that bring forth new life. Consonance can emerge from dissonance and obstacles can promote creativity, reflection, personal meditation, a review of purpose and yes, even personal strength and ingenuity we did not realize we had.
     If you were not selected for something you really wanted, didn’t receive the recognition you thought you deserved, weren’t as effective as you wanted to be, frustrated by your return on your investment of time and energy,  don’t give up. Timing is critical and when one door closes a better one may open, if not immediately, perhaps later.  Persistence is an important key to success and maybe one more effort, attempt, or invitation to membership will yield the desired result.  

     Most women educators who belong to DKG understand the obstacles we face as an organization including membership, leadership, communication, and participation. Some may be conflicted by the desire to honor our past, celebrate our present and also remain relevant to attract future generations. We can do all three! As members of our organization we hold within us an amazing power to become even greater than we have ever been! Make a commitment right now that when you face your next obstacle, and you will, you do everything within your power to change it into one of your best opportunities.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

DKG Members Serve Others!

Edison, my seven year old "adopted hijo"
 with his mom in Panajachel, Guatemala.
I was priviledged to be asked by Dr. Ann Lumsden, a former DKG state organization president from Florida, to join her team from Trinity United Methodist Church in Tallahassee on their annual mission trip to Panajachel, Guatemala. Seven years ago, and as a result of my background in speech pathology, I quasi-adopted a sweet newborn who had a cleft lip and palate. Edison Fernando de Lucas was his name.

During the week of October 17-24, 2015, I met Edison and his parents in Panajachel for the first time. It was the highlight of the week for me; perhaps even one of the greatest moments of my life. I can't find the words to share how seeing him for the first time affected me. Following the shedding of many tears, we continued to communicate via Lindsey Newberry, who is the Field Coordinator and responsible for coordinating the Beca (scholarship) program for students sponsored by Porch de Salomon in Panajachel.

Edison has been attending a school in which he was bullied and that did not provide the services he needed. I am honored to be able to provide a scholarship for Edison so that he can attend a better school. I will always be grateful that both his mom and dad brought him to Panajachel to meet me and to make arrangements for his schooling for next year which begins in January 2016.

I am but one of the nearly 80,000 DKG members who are making a difference in their community, school/institution, state, and yes, around the world!

To see the most recent copy of the Porch Newsletter, go to
 http://porchdesalomon.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Nov15-PorchTalk.pdf

Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 International Achievement Award

Carolyn Pittman, Arkansas
     The international achievement award is presented annually to an outstanding and distinguished member of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. The selection is made by the voting members of the international executive board, composed of the state organization presidents, members of the administrative board and past international presidents.

     The 2015 achievement award was presented on July 16, at the luncheon during the Southeast Regional Conference in Savannah, Georgia. It was presented to Carolyn Pittman of Arkansas. Pittman's credentials demonstrate a life of dedicated service to DKG. Currently the chair of the International Educator Award Committee, she has served the Society at the international level as Southeast Regional Director, Member at Large, First Vice President and chair of several international committees. At the state organization level, Pittman has served as state organization president, editor, executive secretary, and continues to serve in various roles.

     Pittman is well known as an outstanding editor, and has presented numerous Newsletter Camps to assist others interested in enhancing their skills in journalism and editing. She is a mentor, encourager and role model for all.

     Personally, I believe Carolyn is one of the most authentic and talented members I know in DKG! Congratulations, Carolyn. You are most deserving.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Participation Transforms Members!

Below is the blog I posted on July 17, 2014. Dr. Gwen Simmons, North Carolina, now serving as the international parliamentarian, responded to a question I asked during my tenure as international president  regarding  the one thing that would maintain the viability of DKG. Although 300 individuals viewed the blog, I think it bears repeating.

Simmons wrote, "The answer to your request is more complex than one thing but given all the movement in a positive direction in the last three or four biennia, I think a key one is a focus on the expectation of participation by active members in the activities of the Society: Constitution, Article III Membership. Section B.1: … “An active member shall participate in the activities of the Society.”

During the revision of the Constitution in 2009-10, proposals to strike that expectation from the Constitution were considered— I was adamant in my opposition because I believe that is the key aspect of DKG structure, i.e., participation transforms the member, and provides opportunities to transform the organization.  

Active participation requires a member to think for herself (in situations filled with a diversity of perspectives) and she ultimately realizes that she is leader of sorts and has something to offer the organization (which provided her the opportunity to participate in something she was NOT prepared to do until she finished the 'task'.)"

When we actively participate in DKG, we are transformed, indeed! How can we encourage those who are not actively participating in DKG to join us in that transformation?  Share your ideas as a comment or send me an email.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Belonging - better than joining?

     Recently I read a tweet of Amanda Kaiser's (Smooth The Path) that literally jumped out at me. Belonging is more important than joining. "Yes, you are so right." I said to myself.

     Each year in DKG, an international organization of women educators, we lose many more members than we initiate or reinstate. There are a variety of reasons our members resign, but one that is frequently mentioned is that they do not feel connected; they do not have a sense of "belonging."

     There is no question but that we need to attract and engage the younger generations because they represent the future of our organization and our profession. For years I have said that it is not an either/or situation. It is both/and. We need both the younger generations and we need to keep our experienced members.

We need to engage the younger educators and we need to re-engage those who may feel disconnected so that they can share their experience and wisdom and can mentor and be mentored by those who are younger and/or new to the profession.  And both groups need to have a sense of belonging.

       Belonging is reflected as the third level in the pyramid of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Most of us never get to the point, regardless of our age, that we don't desire acceptance by someone, a group or an organization. We want to relate to other humans and feel connected, valued, and appreciated. How can DKG members take care of their own?  The answer might be very simple.
  • Contact members personally
  • Acknowledge every member's past/present/future contributions
  • Affirm all members' value
  • Seek the opinions of all members on changes they would like to see
  • Involve members in a program, project or activity
  • Invite members to share a talent, skill or idea
  • Extend a personal invitation to each member to state, regional and international meetings
  • Ensure that each member has an opportunity to "serve" each biennium
  • Share international information with all members to increase the feeling of being in the loop
  • Recognize some members may need/want something but won't ask
  • Encourage members regardless of their presumed emotional/professional strength
  • Connect with those who rarely participate, appear uninvolved, or who sit alone at meetings
  • Treat all members as you would like to be treated

Friday, June 12, 2015

Generational benefits


     During my term as DKG international president, I proclaimed the benefits of DKG for all generations and especially those in X and Y. Recently, I reviewed the statistics of those blogs and realized they were less read or viewed.  Do younger members not read my blogs? Do experienced members not read blogs about engaging younger generations? 
 
     I don't know why those blogs were viewed less than others. But, this is a great time to reiterate numerous ways in which DKG assists, supports and enhances educators of all generations! Check out a few of the benefits.

.
  • financial support for graduate study
  • support for educators working on National Board Certification
  • coaching, mentoring and other support for educators new to the profession
  • professional networking in a multi-generational environment
  • leadership development opportunities
  • funding for classroom, school or community projects
  • support for attendance at professional conferences
  • publishing opportunities in a juried journal
  • professional development hours for renewal of teaching certificates
  • professional speaking opportunities
  • supporting diversity and involvement in programs at chapter, state organization and international levels
  • genuine friendships with outstanding women educators in 17 countries

Let's continue to dialogue ways to engage the younger generations and re-engage the experienced, long-term members. We could even debate other issues. Open discussions about the issues confronting DKG enable us to better face the future with warm courage and high hopes.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Friendships - A Reason to Belong!

     I would belong to the international organization of women educators (DKG) if it had only the one purpose, Uniting Women Educators in a Genuine Spiritual Fellowship. Because of my membership I am friends with some of the most talented, dynamic, resourceful, intelligent and beautiful leaders
Berneil Drake, Arizona
1921-2015
in the world. Well, at least in 17 countries of the world.

     Berneil Drake, Arizona, was my friend and one such leader. I was shocked to read in her obiturary in April of this year that she was born in 1921. She was extremely youthful in her appearance, demeanor,
attitude, thinking and leadership style. I had few clues we were from different generations!

     Berneil and I had a special bond as we were both state organization editors during her 30 year tenure in Arizona. We had several other things in common. She served as international second vice president as did I.  We both chaired the international communications committee at the international level, and in that role reviewed hundreds of chapter and state organization websites.

     I was elated when she won the international achievement award in 2007, and remember fondly that  in 2010 when I received the same award, she commented about our similar paths as editors and the fact that I had just been elected as the international second vice-president.

     Berneil was one classy lady and will be missed by all! She was, as I want to be, alive when she died.  Serving as her state organization's liaison to the DKG Educational Foundation at the time of her death, she left a generous bequest to the Foundation - a living testimony of her dedication to giving to educate the world.  Goodbye Berneil and thanks for the memories.  

     If you are reading this blog, chances are you are someone I might not know but for my membership in DKG. Please know I am grateful for your friendship. Let's stay in touch!