Submit Hallmark Awards Applications Online by February 1

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Online applications for Phi Theta Kappa’s Hallmark Awards must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. CST February 1– less than a month away.  The 2012 Hallmark Awards will be presented at Phi Theta Kappa's Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, April 12-14.

Hallmark Award Applications are posted at my.ptk.org.

The Hallmark Awards, based on competitively-judged applications, recognize individuals, chapters and regions for excellence in the Society's Hallmarks of Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship as exemplified through Honors in Action activities.

A number of resources are available for chapter officers and advisors participating in this year’s Hallmark Awards competition.  To start, check out information on awards categories, how to submit applications, highlights of changes to the program this year, sample entries, and nomination tips at http://www.ptk.org/benefits/awards/hallmark. All applications will be accepted online only at https://my.ptk.org.

A recorded webinar on Hallmark Awards Writing and Coaching strategies, presented by Headquarters staff, including Monika Byrd, Dean of Leadership Development, is also posted online at http://www.ptk.org/benefits/awards/hallmark.

Byrd explained that completing Hallmark Awards entries involves the exercise of leadership at many levels. “At the project management level someone will lead the goal setting and team set-up, set a timeline that allows adequate time for multiple rounds of revising, editing, and proofreading, and monitor how things are going to keep the process on track, and coaching and helping as needed.  At the team level for each entry, team members need to exercise leadership by collaborating and cooperating effectively with each other, by understanding each person’s strengths and challenges and providing timely, professional, constructive feedback for each other,” she said. “For example, at the individual level, each person needs to exercise self-leadership by managing time and meeting deadlines.”

Dean of Service Learning Jennifer Stanford suggests that the process of entering Hallmark Awards can provide a valuable opportunity for chapter growth. “Chapters should use the Hallmark Awards writing process to reflect on what the chapter has accomplished as well as areas for improvement. This reflection process can help chapters set goals for the new year, based on what they learned in 2011. For example, if they take time to briefly write down mistakes they made in their project planning/implementation and how to avoid them in the future, they will be able to share this with the new slate of officers so they don’t make the same mistakes. That’s a great legacy to leave behind.” 

Once chapters have organized their teams as suggested and gathered information needed, team members will need to tackle the technical aspect of the online application process – a new addition to Hallmark Awards procedures since 2011. Key Services Manager Tria Cohen offers these tips to make sure online application goes smoothly:

  • Do not wait until the last day to work on OR submit your application in case technical issues do arise. Some applications may require a letter of recommendation and you may need to request this well in advance.
  • Proofread your entries carefully and ask others to proofread as well before submitting.
  • A certification is required for all applications before they can be submitted.
  • You can cut copy and paste from MS Word, but it brings other formatting along with it into the response text box.If you cut, copy and paste from Word, be sure to paste it into WordPad or Notepad first in order to remove the background formatting.
  • The Distinguished Chapter Officer Award allows for two nominations and advisor awards allow for as many nominations as are eligible advisors.  In order to create multiple applications, a collaboration team must be created for each entry.  The collaboration team set up page will notate Team 1 and New Team for those applications.
  • Once the application is certified, edits can no longer be made. In order to make edits, the person must log back in and decertify the application so edits can be made.
  • A submission confirmation email will be sent immediately to the person who is logged in at my.ptk.org and clicks the "Submit All and Finish" button.

Although the weeks ahead will be busy ones for Phi Theta Kappa chapters preparing their applications, it can be a rewarding process as well.  Even though the members of the Psi Epsilon Chapter at Northeast Alabama Community College in Rainsville had only entered Hallmark Awards one year previously, they won a Hallmark Awards chapter award for the first time in 2011.

“Our chapter, Psi Epsilon, was delighted to be recognized with an Honors in Action Project Award in 2011. I believe that part of the accomplishment can be attributed to understanding the integral parts of the overall Honors in Action process with its focus on all of the Society’s Hallmarks,” said Chapter Advisor Brad Fricks.  “By starting early, working as a team, and meticulously planning, our chapter was able to create a successful Honors in Action program along with its corresponding Hallmark Award application.”

Beth Sammons, advisor for the Rho Theta Chapter at Mt. Hood Community College in Oregon, said that to her knowledge, Rho Theta won its first Hallmark Awards in the chapter’s history in 2011. “That Rho Theta would also be named one of the Top Five Chapters was beyond our wildest dreams,” she said.  ”So what made the difference? The 2010-2011 officer team took a Hallmark writing retreat. The weekend before Thanksgiving, the whole officer team gathered at a rented vacation home for a weekend of fellowship, fun and Hallmark planning. Armed with the Hallmark questions and rubrics, the officers outlined responses and then wrote first drafts. That head start made all the difference come January,” Sammons said. “Of course, to write successful Hallmarks the officers also spent considerable time comparing their drafts to the rubrics, rewriting, revising, condensing, revising some more, and editing carefully before submitting the entries.”

Last year the Kappa Alpha Chapter at Holmes Community College in Goodman, Mississippi took the top honor as 2011 Most Distinguished Chapter.

“I think almost any chapter can compete for top honors in Phi Theta Kappa. Over the years, small chapters in rural areas with limited resources have done as well as large, urban chapters with almost unlimited resources in their communities,” said Billy Wilson, Kappa Alpha Chapter Advisor. “After building our team and finding a creative way to use our unique resources to study something about our culture, we make a schedule for completing each aspect of our project. Staying on schedule means that we will make it to the finish line. But, we have learned the hard way that we must save time for reconsideration, conflict and compromise, writing and rewriting. I think it is true for any chapter; that following the formula of building a team with a common purpose, using the resources unique to your college and community, maintaining a schedule--which allows time for failures--and having the patience and pride to write your experience according to the guidelines can add up to success.”

“Phi Theta Kappa redesigned our Hallmark Awards system in 2011 to streamline the application process for chapters, allow for online entries, and award more deserving chapters,” said Dr. Rod Risley, Phi Theta Kappa’s Executive Director. “However, it’s important to note that recognition isn’t the sole purpose of this program. When utilized properly, the Hallmark Awards program is an incredible leadership tool for chapters, which can be used to help members hone critical thinking skills such as goal-setting, planning, team-building and writing that they will use throughout their careers.”