Welcome to your new advising role! When I first started as an adviser, I was handed a box from my predecessor containing chapter bylaws, some plastic containers, and folders. I had no idea where to start or what to do. So, I printed out and read the handbooks for both National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), which turned out to be a lot of reading. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed.

You may be feeling the same way I did five years ago. But as you walk into your new adviser role, I assure you there are multiple resources to assist you—ones that I wish I knew about when I started advising (including this handy checklist for new advisers of NHS chapters and NJHS chapters). Based on my own experiences, and those of other advisers, I highlight resources and offer five tips below.

1. Make sure your NHS and/or NJHS affiliations are active.

  • Ensure that your chapter’s affiliation for the new school year has been renewed. During my first year of advising, I learned the previous adviser had not renewed our affiliations, so I found the invoices and went to the business office to renew ASAP. A few weeks later, our district received a letter and affiliation certificate confirming renewal. These days, I receive an email confirmation as well as a letter and certificate in the mail. Visit the NHS renewal link here and the NJHS renewal link here.

2. Reach out to your principal, student members, and faculty council.

  • Make sure that you understand your role and your chapter’s vision to avoid future confusion. It’s important to connect with your principal, preferably before the beginning of the school year, to establish possible goals and glean useful information. Your principal may connect you with the faculty members who form your faculty council. If not, discuss this so you can find (and meet) them. When I started, I also found that talking with NHS/NJHS members allowed me to get to know a little about each student. They also shared valuable input which I used for planning that year.

3. Become familiar with your chapter handbook and bylaws.

  • Although it’s a lot of reading, you do need to know the policies and procedures of running a chapter. Take some time to look through the NHS Handbook and/or NJHS Handbook. Both provide a constitution and information for running your chapter and holding an induction ceremony. Sample letters for selecting students as well as letters for informing students they have not been selected for the chapter are provided as well. Be sure to check out the sample ceremony script, which you are welcome to use and modify.

  • Even if you don’t select members or hold your induction in the fall, you’ll want to be familiar with these policies when your selection or induction process opens in the spring. After reading the handbook, read your chapter’s bylaws. Then determine whether you and everyone in your honor society should consider revising them to fit your needs and leadership style.

4. Build your calendar early and include your goals.

  • Being an adviser requires some organization. Put together a calendar at the beginning of the school to keep you on track. Include upcoming activities, meetings, and programs to help you juggle responsibilities inside and outside of school. Notify NHS students that the NHS scholarship application opens in September. And notify NJHS students that the Outstanding Achievement Award application opens in January. Jot down dates of important webinars for students and advisers.

  • Add those goals previously mentioned to your calendar. Also add service projects and any fundraisers you plan to do.

5. Remember that assistance is available.

You are now ready to be an Honor Society adviser! I wish you the best as you begin this new adventure and hope you enjoy this fantastic and rewarding part of your teaching career.

About the Author

Christina Marsh is an NHS and NJHS adviser at Brocton Central School in Brocton, NY.

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