As elected leaders of a chapter, officers are a key to its success. They should be chosen for dependability, enthusiasm, and vision. Chapter Advisors should instruct officers thoroughly in their duties and confer with them often. The officers should seek to lead the other members rather than do all the work themselves. One goal should be to involve every member, either as an officer or committee member. Actively involved members are committed and feel a part of the chapter while inactive members soon become mere observers.
The day-to-day leadership of each chapter largely depends on its chapter officers. Each chapter determines the number of its officers and elects them for one-year, renewable terms. Officers work closely with the Chapter Advisor and Faculty Advisory Council, who provide continuity as well as information about school policies. Most chapters have a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. Some chapters have a historian, a public relations officer, and other such positions.
The chapter officers, along with the Chapter Advisor, comprise the chapter's executive committee, the task of which is to direct the chapter's business determining the local dues structure (if any), reviewing and updating the bylaws, setting the time and place of meetings and their agendas, approving special events and projects, etc. All actions and recommendations of the executive committee are subject to review by the membership. The executive committee should be conscious of the chapter's relationship to the school's administration, faculty, and other school organizations. Ideally, any chapter activity will complement the total school program and serve the best interests of the school community.
The Duties and Responsibilities of Chapter Officers
The president presides at the meetings; initiates activities and sees that they are carried out; appoints committees and sees that they function; lends continuity to the chapter; and makes certain that the jobs are distributed among as many of the members as possible. The president should be aware of the importance of teamwork, and that the distinction of being elected president is an honor not to be treated lightly.
The vice president presides in the absence of the president. This officer confers with the president and Chapter Advisor often and should be kept informed and involved in the activities.
The vice president, with the Chapter Advisor, may also assume the duties of (co)program chair of the induction ceremony. This requires inviting speakers and making other necessary arrangements, and seeing that the program is effected in good order. As a committed chapter officer, the vice president can chair particular committees as needed and provide leadership for particular projects and activities.
The secretary keeps the minutes of the meetings, both of the business transacted and of the programs and activities. He/she sends out announcements of future meetings and the minutes of previous meetings.
Other duties of this officer may include corresponding (along with the Chapter Advisor) with the Central Office by sending in the names of new members and reporting activities, being responsible for local speakers, acting as host or hostess at chapter programs, and possibly serving as chair for a particular activity or project.
The treasurer, working with the Chapter Advisor, handles the chapter's money matters. He/she should administer chapter funds and keep the other officers informed of the status of chapter finances.
Although the Chapter Advisor should be responsible for actually sending the national induction fees to the Central Office, the treasurer may be enlisted to help with the collection of any local chapter dues. The treasurer should also take an active role in any fundraising projects in which the chapter engages.
Depending upon the size and level of involvement of the chapter, additional officers may be necessary. These officers may be assigned as needed, elected by the members, or combined with the duties of other officers. Some additional officers in chapters may be:
It is essential to maintain a permanent record of the chapter's members and activities. Clippings, rosters, programs, correspondence, etc., should be kept in some permanent form, perhaps in a scrapbook. In years to come, when members now on the scene have gone, these permanent records will become increasingly valuable. These materials should never be kept at a member's home but in the care of the Chapter Advisor or in a permanent location at school. A chapter historian, working closely with the Chapter Advisor, may be elected to handle this important work.
Public Relations Chair
A good chapter should be as visible as possible. One member may be assigned the responsibility of keeping the news media (i.e. the school paper, the local paper, and radio and television stations, etc.) informed of programs, speakers, awards, and honors involving the local National English Honor Society chapter. This person should work closely with the school's newspaper and yearbook staff. It is always important to keep the principal and other school and/or district administrators in the loop! The public relations chair also can make certain that fliers and banners are posted and that announcements concerning chapter events are made in a timely fashion.
It is wise to appoint one person who knows how to go about setting up activities within the school system. An activities chair can work with the Chapter Advisor to help find rooms for meetings and events, to make arrangements for food, to ensure that invited speakers have correct information, and to check out equipment. School officials and staff generally appreciate working with one contact person, not many.
Some chapters maintain their own websites, blogs, and/or Facebook pages. In such cases a person can be put in charge of updating materials on the web page, having the chapter website identified with the school's website, notifying the Central Office of the website, linking the chapter to other chapters in the region, and assisting chapter members in accessing information on the Society website at www.nehs.us.
Very important: It is essential that the Chapter Advisor be informed at all times of all information that is put on the site, and that absolutely nothing that might be considered offensive appears on it. The website is a public image of the chapter and of the Society and should always reflect positively on the chapter, the Society, and the field of English. Any violation of this may result in the loss of the chapter's charter.