All secondary schools may apply to charter their own chapter except in situations where a school's size precludes the formation of a full Faculty Advisory Council. In such cases a chapter can be shared among two or three schools as long as all other constitutional requirements can be met. Shared chapters will share one charter, provide one charter fee, submit one annual affiliation fee and annual report, and have one chapter name, until such time the schools opt to separate. In that case, one school may retain the charter and the other(s) must petition for a new charter, pay the charter fee, and establish a separate chapter. All school types—public, private, parochial, charter, virtual—are eligible to apply for a charter. The NEHS Director should be consulted if a unique school design exists.

Starting a Chapter

An English teacher is necessary to serve as the founding Chapter Advisor. This person should examine the online NEHS information, discuss with other teachers and students the possibilities of forming a chapter, and approach the administration about making the commitment to chartering, securing the fees, and arranging to install a chapter. The NEHS Director must approve any variance from an English teacher being the Chapter Advisor.

The founding Chapter Advisor must then complete and submit a charter application, along with a one-time charter fee of $150.00. It takes approximately three weeks for the application to be processed, after which time the formal charter is sent to the founding Chapter Advisor.

Criteria for Active Chapters

Overview: all chapters must

  1. maintain a Chapter Advisor and a full Faculty Advisory Council,
  2. induct new members annually ($15 induction fee per new member),
  3. pay a $65 affiliation fee annually, and
  4. submit an annual chapter activities report.

New Member Enrollment

A chapter is deemed inactive if it does not enroll at least one new member in any given membership year (1 July - 30 June) or if affiliation fees are not paid within 90 days after the chapter anniversary date. After one calendar year of inactive status, the chapter will be suspended and must apply for reactivation and pay $100. The charter may be reinstated upon submitting reactivation papers and fees, as determined by the National Advisory Council.

Affiliation Fee

Each chapter pays an annual affiliation fee of $65.00. For chapters chartered before June 1, 2010, the annual fee notice is emailed to the Lead Advisor on April 15 and is due June 1 of each year. For chapters chartered after June 1, 2010, the annual affiliation fee is due on their charter anniversary date. These chapters also receive their invoice 60 days prior to their due date and up to 90 days after the due date. The annual affiliation fee may be paid through the NEHS Connect portal. A chapter not currently active may not submit new members for induction until the affiliation fee has been paid.

Loss of Charters

Any chapter that fails to fulfill the provisions of the NEHS Constitution and Bylaws or that conducts its affairs and business in such a way as to contradict or impede the progress and purposes of NEHS shall forfeit its charter. In the event that a charter is to be canceled at the request of the local chapter, the Central Office will recognize and register such cancellation.

Chapter Names

Individual chapters choose their own names. The selection process itself can be a creative, fun, even provocative experience that should be undertaken under supervision of the Chapter Advisor. The process should be taken seriously; once the name is selected it is permanent. Limit your name to forty characters or less, including spaces between words. The name, along with the reasons for its selection, should be recorded with the chapter history and referenced in chapter mailings, announcements, and ceremonies.

Naming of your chapter is an opportunity to come up with something creative and fun. Clever, “English-related” names such as those listed below lend a unique “character” to the chapter. Chapter names may have literary influences, such as authors, characters, and settings. Other chapters may name themselves after features of the English language or well-loved teachers. The least distinctive names are those that merely duplicate the names of the schools or school mascots. The possibilities are as vast as our language. Some example names are

  1. author: J.R.R. Tolkien Chapter, Little Dickens Chapter, Emily Dickinson Chapter
  2. character: Tom Sawyer Chapter, Sarah Byrnes Society, Dead Poets, Much Ado About Literature Chapter
  3. setting: Camelot Chapter, Valley of Ashes Chapter
  4. language: Misplaced Modifiers Chapter, Comma Splices Chapter, Illogical Fallacies Chapter
  5. teacher: Caroline B. Anderson Chapter
  6. “English-related”: Epsilon Chi Sigma, LiterAries Chapter
  7. school: Ridge High School Chapter
  8. mascot: Eagle Chapter

Choose carefully. The chapter name will endure for a very long time.

Chapter Installation

All new chapters conduct a formal installation ceremony.

Chapter Member Dues

Chapter-specific member dues, if any, are determined by each chapter and are subject to the approval of the chapter's Faculty Advisory Council. It is expected that the Faculty Advisory Council will be sensitive to the wide variety of economic conditions of the school's students and will structure any fees in such a way that no eligible student is excluded because of economic inability to participate in membership.

Chapter Activities

Chapters hold business meetings in order to plan and direct their activities. These activities should include programs of various sorts in order to develop the community of people who are interested in English. Participation in such programs is one of the most valuable benefits of NEHS membership; the kinds of appropriate activities are limited only by the members' imaginations. Invited speakers, book, movie, or play discussions, field trips to literary sites, producing a chapter literary publication, theme parties, tutoring, sponsoring writers' workshops—the ideas are endless. Visit Chapter Life to find examples of, and suggestions for, successful activities.

Chapter Annual Report

Each chapter is asked each spring to submit a Chapter Annual Report. Compilation of this report allows chapters to reflect on the events of the previous year and to initiate planning for the next year. Completion of the report should be a collaborative responsibility of the Faculty Advisory Council working with outgoing and incoming officers. The report is a part of each chapter's permanent file with the Central Office; a copy should also be kept as part of the local chapter history. The chapter's Lead Advisor will receive a link to complete the Chapter Annual Report/Survey each year during the month of April.

Chapter Bylaws

Local chapters must adopt bylaws to the NEHS Constitution in order to establish local direction. Bylaws for local chapters are designed by the chapter to implement the NEHS Constitution and to provide a written set of rules for a particular group. The Bylaws define the limits of authority for the organization and give a sense both of order and of purpose; they also formalize a chapter's operations and procedures, including membership selection procedures.

Bylaws should be stated in simple terms, include only essential items, be reviewed regularly and changed to reflect the local needs of a particular year. Though a chapter's Bylaws are not approved by the National Advisory Council, they must be consistent with the NEHS Constitution, the policies established by the National Advisory Council, and the local school's policies.

Bylaws should specify guidelines on such topics as the membership selection criteria; the schedule of meetings; member obligations regarding meeting attendance, participation in projects and activities, etc.; information on chapter officers (which ones are required, what their duties are, how they are to be elected, how they may be removed); chapter dues (if any); and a description of projects for the year. Chapters may add any other information and procedures pertinent to the chapter.

Bylaws, once accepted by a vote of the chapter and approved by the Faculty Advisory Council and the school's administration, become the chapter's governing document. There are times when an outdated set of Bylaws is a real hindrance to the chapter. Some good reasons for amending them are that statements no longer suit the chapter or school situation or that essential information is hard to locate in the current format.

Chapter Bylaws Reference to NEHS

  • Statement of the organization's name and the chapter's name (Article 1)
  • General purpose of the group (Article 1)
  • Powers vested in the organization; the rights of the Chapter Advisor and the Faculty Advisory Council (Article 8 & Article 9)
  • Criteria for chapter membership (Article 10)
  • Establishment of the methods and procedures for the selection of members (must be consistent with national guidelines and is not subject to member approval) (Article 11)
  • Frequency of meetings and provisions for special sessions (Article 16)
  • Titles, duties, and responsibilities of officers, Chapter Advisor, members, and committees (Article 14)
  • Procedures for election and removal of officers and for filling vacancies (Article 13 & Article 14)
  • Definition of rules of order and references for conducting NEHS business (usually Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised) (Article 16)
  • Method and procedure for ratification and amendment of the Bylaws (Article 20)

Sample Chapter Bylaws

Strong Chapters

Every NEHS chapter is started because its founders are excited about the English language arts. Maintaining that enthusiasm through involvement in activities and projects, by joining together in a community of like-minded individuals, by developing a unique chapter identity, and by promoting excellence in English studies are ways to develop strong, dynamic chapters.

A chapter that considers both how it "fits" and how it is different is off on the right step. And so is the chapter that, in setting its annual goals, planning its events, activating its members, and contributing to its school, considers the NEHS mission and purposes.

It is important that chapters design goals and plan activities that reflect the differing needs, interests, schedules, and talents of their members. The differences should be recognized so that everyone is part of the whole. The chapter should adapt to the talents of its members, rather than vice versa.

Suggested Ways to Strengthen Your Chapter

Promote Ties With the Central Office

  1. Submit names of new members promptly so that information can be sent quickly.
  2. Submit items for the NEHS Museletter.
  3. Use items in the NEHS Museletter as starting points for discussions at your meetings.
  4. Participate in regional or Society events!

Promote Ties With Other Area Chapters

  1. Hold a local area conference or day-long symposium on one particular issue or theme.
  2. Invite other chapters when your chapter sponsors a speaker or activity.

Gain Visibility Locally

  1. Make a chapter banner and display it at all events.
  2. Design and wear NEHS sweatshirts and T-shirts; wear Society pins.
  3. Note NEHS sponsorship prominently when advertising your programs at school and in the community.
  4. Make certain all events are well advertised in the school newspaper and, if appropriate, in the local news media.
  5. Let the school and local newspapers know when a chapter member wins an award.

Involve All Members, Potential and Actual

  1. Create committees for particular events and make certain every member is involved in at least one committee each year.
  2. Get involved with beginning-of-the-year informational activities for student organizations.
  3. Hold a picnic or pizza party at the beginning of the fall semester and invite potential members.

Plan in Advance

  1. Brainstorm in the spring for next year's programs.
  2. Review those plans with returning membership in the fall.
  3. When discussing plans for the year, be flexible and open to all members' suggestions.
  4. Set well in advance the tentative dates for meetings, regular events, and other activities.
  5. Reserve as early as possible the appropriate and adequate space for meetings.
  6. Keep to a regular schedule for meetings. Strive always to be consistent; meet at the same time and place every time.

Hold Effective Meetings

  1. Plan. Have an agenda.
  2. Involve everyone in planning for and participating in meetings during the course of the semester.
  3. Keep "business" to a minimum; most NEHS members are there because they have a strong connection with English language and literature—not because they want to sit through a long business meeting.
  4. Keep meetings moving; don't let people divert attention from the point at hand.
  5. Have a program (presentation, guest speaker, discussion topic, etc.) at least every other meeting.
  6. Distribute the secretary's minutes promptly, noting the time and place of the next meeting. Post the minutes on your Web site or school bulletin board.
  7. Involve faculty members and the school administration in your meetings.