Tailor Your Training at the Center for Excellence

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet, Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach.

May is a busy month in academia. Students have final exams, graduation, and “Operation: Summer Vacation” on the brain. Advisors are consumed with grading final assignments, scheduling last-minute meetings, and wrapping up spring term obligations.

Nevertheless, finding time to activate one or more of the four hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa — scholarship, leadership, fellowship, and service — is a priority for dedicated chapters and regions. A simple, yet rewarding, way to engage in two of the hallmarks, leadership and fellowship, at the end of a tough term is to visit the Center for Excellence in Jackson, Mississippi.

Reward your chapter, either virtually or face-to-face, with a half-day training at Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters, where your group can meet one-on-one with the experts. Build rapport among your officers. Increase your member engagement. Learn, firsthand, what it will take for your team to amplify its impact on your campus, in your community, and among your Phi Theta Kappa local and regional peers.

Prior to your visit, work together to determine what training will best suit your team’s needs. This is not one-size-fits-all. Customize your visit with requests for specific breakout sessions on topics that will benefit you.

Perhaps, you want to use your time at the Center to create goals, objectives, and strategies for the upcoming year.

Maybe, your chapter has committed to completing Honors in Action for the first time. (As novices, you may wonder … Does my team really understand what Honors in Action requires? What time commitment will it take? How do we decide on a theme? How do we engage in scholarly research?)

Your officers may want an off-site retreat to learn about each other and how to work as a leadership team.

If your group is active on the Web, you may want some tips on branding.

If recruiting new members is your chapter’s focus, get insight on REACH Rewards from those who were part of its design and recruitment strategies from our staff members.

The extensive resources and services available through Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters are intended for you, our advisors, officers, Regional Coordinators, and members. The training we make available is part of our commitment to developing robust chapters, regions, and alumni associations.

In March, we were pleased to welcome two officer teams: Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Jefferson Davis Campus, Omicron Alpha Chapter Officers and Mississippi College PTK Alumni Association Officers. This May, we were thrilled to host visits from four officer teams: Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Wesson Campus, Eta Omega Chapter Officers; Itawamba Community College, Fulton Campus, Upsilon Sigma Chapter Officers; Delgado Community College, City Park Campus, Omega Nu Chapter Officers; and Mississippi/Louisiana outgoing and incoming Regional Officers and advisors. And we are eagerly awaiting officer teams and advisors from Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kansas in the coming summer months.

Each group customized the visit to suit its needs. Several groups received training on Competitive Edge, Honors in Action, and the College Project. Teams that had completed preliminary research for their Honors in Action project shared their topic and research questions with our staff prior to the visit, which personalized the focus of their discussion and brainstorming session.

Another group used an hour of the visit to lead its own goal-setting workshop. The group separated into smaller teams, crafted goals for the upcoming year, and shared their conclusions with the larger group at the end of the hour. Advisors led this session.

Still, for other groups of newly elected officers, the visit to PTK Headquarters served as an opportunity to get to know their fellow officers. At times, introductions and ice breakers characterized morning sessions at the Center. It was wonderful to witness students, in some cases, meet for the first time at the beginning of the day, and leave the Center at the end of the visit with a budding friendship.

Certain staple components add an element of fun to in-person visits. Guests take a tour of the Center that allows them to learn more about the history of Phi Theta Kappa (including a “Fun Facts” quiz), visit our departments, and meet staff members.

A popular request is a visit to the Phi Theta Kappa Store, where guests can peruse and purchase PTK “swag!” From sweatshirts to coffee mugs to jewelry, the Store offers a range of products that students and advisors enjoy.

Photo opportunities abound: in front of the “Phi Theta Kappa Center for Excellence” signage in front of the building; in our very own “Parade of Flags” in the lobby; in the Alpha Courtyard lined with Natchez white crepe myrtle trees; and, if you’re lucky, with President and CEO Dr. Tincher-Ladner in her office.

A special part of every visit incorporates the visitor pin that only guests who have visited the Center for Excellence receive. One of the four members of Phi Theta Kappa’s Executive Cabinet (Tincher-Ladner; Steve Mulhollen, Vice President of Scholarships and Operations and CFO; Dr. Susan Scaggs, Vice President of Membership and Student Engagement; and Dr. Monica Marlowe, Foundation Executive Director) may distribute these pins to our esteemed guests. It is an important tradition at Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters.

I encourage as many groups as possible to visit the Center for Excellence. Treat your officer team and/or members at the end of a long academic term to a PTK Headquarters visit. Use this opportunity as a tool to improve your chapter, region, or association. After your visit, schedule a follow-up team meeting to apply what you’ve learned. The benefits are tremendous.

Those who can, meet us in the capital city of Jackson, Mississippi, and prepare for a taste of Southern hospitality. Those who cannot travel to Headquarters, meet us in cyberspace. We would love to “see” you! To schedule a visit, please contact aariel.charbonnet@ptk.org.

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