Many of you are unsung heroes—working tirelessly to help your school’s most promising students grow into remarkable leaders ready to take on the world.
Each year, the national office acknowledges this commitment with its Rynearson National Adviser of the Year award. Named for Edward Rynearson, the principal who established the first NHS chapter in 1921, this award seeks to “sing the praises” of one NHS and one NJHS adviser annually.
Advise recently sought reflections from three past winners: Rebecca Duda, 2014 winner and former NJHS adviser at Justus C. Richardson Middle School in Dracut, MA; Jennifer Roberts, 2015 winner and NHS adviser at Hallsville High School in Texas; and Kelli Bradley, the 2017 winner and an NHS adviser at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington, DE.
What time management suggestions would you share with peers?
Roberts: Get a great record-keeping system for service hours, probation, even T-shirts. I use a pretty extensive spreadsheet. I would also suggest some really effective communication with your members. We utilize Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Remind. This summer, I created an app through appypie.com so we can keep everything together.
What advice would you give to any chapter adviser?
Duda: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out to the national office or other advisers. There is a lot to learn.
What do you say to an adviser who is struggling with the role?
Bradley: Start small. Don’t try to do 1,000 things. My first year, I didn’t even do elections because I wasn’t comfortable enough. I just asked the kids. I said, “I need some people to help out.” … Set a few goals: one thing they can do in the fall, another in the winter, and something in the spring. Keep track of what you’ve done and reflect on it right afterward. I write things down to remind myself, “This did not work!”
Duda: Be patient. It takes times to establish rituals and traditions for the chapter and create a school culture in which it is highly valued to be a member.
What do you value about having NHS as part of your school community?
Roberts: Like the torch, I think NHS members are a light for others, whether that be in the classroom, on the field, or in the cafeteria. I hold members to a high standard, and they rise to meet the challenges. As a result, we are able to work within and for our school and our community to make them better, whether that is by using our voices, our hands, or our hearts.
What is your secret to chapter success?
Bradley: I let the kids run it. We [advisers] are guiding. When I get an email from a community member, my president responds. He delegates from there. I tell [prospective officers] you can’t have any other office in the school. I think they do more than any other student officer does [because they need] an opportunity to work through things. … I am only as good as my students make me look. I am truly honored by this award, and it’s a direct reflection of the hard work of my NHS students over the years.