As the deadline to submit 2014 Hallmark Awards applications nears, we offer this in-depth look at the 2013 Most Distinguished Chapter. See more from the chapter in this video. Hallmark Awards submissions are due January 29, 2014.
The Alpha Zeta Iota Chapter onstage as it is named the 2013 Most Distinguished Chapter during the 2013 Annual Convention in San Jose, California.
The Alpha Zeta Iota Chapter from Northwest Shoals Community College in Phil Campbell, Alabama, takes a unique approach with its chapter officer team, making relationship- and team-building a priority from the start. And this year it paid off, as the chapter was named Phi Theta Kappa’s 2013 Most Distinguished Chapter at the Society’s Annual Convention in April.
“We try to develop a program that starts with relationships,” chapter advisor Nora Lee said. “When you play together, you eat together, you care about each other, then the project begins to take on more meaning for you. You care about each other, and that makes a lot of difference.”
Most Distinguished Chapter is the highest honor given to a Phi Theta Kappa chapter. To be considered for this honor, a chapter must submit entries for both the Honors in Action Project Award and the College Project Award. Alpha Zeta Iota’s Honors in Action Project examined Alabama’s controversial immigration law, and its College Project focused on college completion.
Alpha Zeta Iota doesn’t have a chapter president; instead, vice presidents rotate serving as chapter president for one month. The chapter has put together a winning formula: build relationships early, and share all of the work.
The group meets in early June to begin planning their two major projects. Lee said starting early is a key to the chapter’s success, as is letting the research dictate the action that the project will take. Retreats foster teamwork and create personal bonds among team members. It all adds up to a more cohesive and successful officer team, which leads to a more successful chapter overall.
“When the chapter got together to do training for leadership, each one contributed at least one idea for behavioral goalshow they would treat each other, how would they function as a group,” Lee said. “And these were the beginning goals for what the projects would be. The projects came later. It was how we treat each other and how we work together that set the stage for how these projects are going to go.”
An Honors in Action journal is kept through the process, helping the team stay organized. Chapter officers and members have to work closely with college administrators, faculty and staff to learn new skills that will help with the completion of the projects.
For Alpha Zeta Iota, that meant reaching out to audiovisual specialists to learn how to make quality videos, economics and public speaking professors to provide guidance, and college administrators to approve and oversee efforts to distribute the chapter’s findings to the college campus.
“The leadership skills that we build through collaborations with college personnel and people in the community are going to help us along the way to get the project done,” Lee said. “Having frequent communication with the administration is what makes it work.”