I have been thinking lately about leadership—how to value it, nurture it, model it, respect it. Margaret Wheatley, in her recent book Who Do We Choose To Be, states, “It is possible, in this time of profound disruption, for leadership to be a noble profession that contributes to the common good. It is possible . . . to experience recurring moments of grace and joy” (4). The “joy” of leadership—not the burden, not the responsibility, not the loneliness—but the “joy.” As educators, how do we show our colleagues, students, parent communities, the joy of being in leadership positions, in the forefront of classrooms, schools, communities, the profession?
NEHS most definitely is an arena in which leadership may flourish, both for educators and for student members. As this school year opens, what plans are unfolding that will allow your chapters to grow, to make a difference, to lead? Who will emerge as the person to take charge of a project? Who will work, without fanfare or spotlight, to ensure success?
As NEHS begins its thirteenth year, new opportunities emerge; this year, we step carefully and with great anticipation into middle level grades, extending membership to students in seventh and eighth grade with an emphasis on nurturing the love of literacy. This move has prompted a change in our name—we now will be known as National English Honor Society for Secondary Schools, allowing us to embrace a wider range of grade levels. New scholarship amounts, continuing grants and awards, new chapters enrolling each and every month—we stand at over 1,110 chartered chapters now—add to the leadership responsibilities in the Society but also bring great joy. Wheatley quotes Chogyam Trungpa, a Buddist teacher: “We cannot change the way the world is, but by opening to the world as it is we may discover that gentleness, decency, and bravery are available, not only to us, but to all human beings” (5). My hopes for you this school year are focused on that “gentleness, decency, and bravery” each of you carry—as English teachers and as members of NEHS.