Alpha Theta chapter of ADK celebrates its Founders Day
It was 44 years ago, on Nov. 2, 1968, that the Alpha Theta Chapter of the international Alpha Delta Kappa (ADK) sorority was established in a ceremony held at the Graystone Hotel in Detroit Lakes.
Since then, its membership of current and retired educators has worked tirelessly to support local educational charities, as well as to share the gift of learning by volunteering in local classrooms.
“We are solidly based in tradition and history, but we try to encourage our members to find ways to impact education in the community today as well,” says Karen Lenius, a former Perham teacher who now works as a senior programs coordinator for Mahube-Otwa Community Action in Detroit Lakes.
One of those ways is to volunteer to read books to students in elementary classrooms throughout the region, she added, noting that promoting child literacy is a particular focus of ADK.
“We have members from Mahnomen, Perham and Frazee, as well as Detroit Lakes,” Lenius said. “We are a regional organization for female educators.”
Each year, part of the money they raise through their philanthropic efforts is used “to provide a scholarship source for potential new female educators,” Lenius added.
Two $500 scholarships are awarded each year; this year’s scholarships went to a pair of 2013 Perham High School graduates, Alexis (Lexi) Richter and Tanya Berns.
Lexi, the daughter of Rich and Tami Richter, is planning to major in mathematics education, with a minor in educational technology at the University of North Dakota; Tanya, the daughter of Ronald and Patricia Berns, is planning to major in elementary education and English as a Second Language (ESL) at Hamline University.
“We take scholarship applications from schools around the area, wherever we have members, and from those, two are selected,” Lenius said.
The scholarship program is part of Alpha Theta’s mission to promote and support local education efforts in as many ways as possible.
Alpha Theta also sponsors one student each year to attend classes at the TeacHaiti School of Hope; though based in Port au Prince, Haiti, TeacHaiti is another educational charity that has its roots in Detroit Lakes, Lenius said.
Other philanthropic efforts by Alpha Theta in the lakes area include supporting the Lake Agassiz Regional Library System; the QWERTY Robotics team; the local Boys & Girls Club; and the United Way Food For Thought Backpack Project.
In addition, they donate funds each month to support a local family in crisis, and also provide support to area food shelves.
Lenius said she received an invitation to join Alpha Theta last year; the organization’s membership includes past and present education professionals who hold a degree in education from an accredited college or university, and have worked in the educational field for a minimum of two years.
“I was a classroom teacher in Perham for nine years,” Lenius said, adding that she taught both first and second grade there.
Though she left the Perham school system in 1984, she added, she still considers herself an educator.
“That’s what I have a passion for,” said Lenius, noting that it’s something all of ADK’s members have in common.
The Alpha Delta Kappa International Honorary Organization for Women Educators was founded in 1947 by Agnes Shipman Robertson, Marie Neal, Marion Southall and Hattie Poppino, to recognize and support the professional efforts of outstanding women educators.
Since 1947, over 125,000 women educators around the world have joined ADK. The Alpha Theta chapter will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2014.
For more information about Alpha Theta, and ADK, please contact membership consultant Linda Baumiller at 218-847-2291.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.