LINCOLNTON – As evidenced by the May 1 march on the state legislature, when teachers from across the state gathered in Raleigh to demand increased funding for education, times are tough for teachers, especially those just breaking into the field.
Delta Sigma, the local chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society – an international organization that promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education – has worked for nearly a decade to support and nurture beginning teachers and future educators in Lincoln County Schools. The group, which currently consists of more than 40 past and present female educators in Lincoln County, offers support and advice for new teachers, as well as current students considering a career in education.
Delta Sigma is more than just a sounding board for young teachers, however, as the organization offers multiple scholarships on an annual basis.
The group is best known locally for its annual fashion show fundraiser, in which its members hit the runway to raise money for scholarships awarded to graduating Lincoln County seniors planning to pursue a teaching degree. Delta Sigma awards at least one $1,000 scholarship each year, although multiple scholarships are often handed out depending on the amount of money raised in a given year.
It’s not just aspiring teachers who benefit from Delta Sigma’s generosity, however, as the organization also awards an annual scholarship to a current Lincoln County Schools teacher with an interest in pursuing an advanced teaching degree.
The final monetary donation from Delta Sigma is given to the recipient of the organization’s Most Promising Young Educator Award. The award is presented each year to a first-year teacher, who is then able to use the funding to purchase additional materials for their classroom. Additionally, Delta Sigma provides all first-year teachers encouragement through a small gift basket and a card left on their desk every nine weeks throughout the school year.
“I think, as young teachers transition into being alone in charge of their own classrooms, feeling like you’re supported by not just the person across the hall but a bigger community of folks is extremely important,” Delta Sigma President Rhonda Hager said. “There are more options for careers today than ever before, especially for women, so it’s important for teachers coming into the profession to feel supported so they’ll want to stay. Sometimes just having someone to bounce ideas off of can make all the difference in the world because it’s a lonely place in the classroom when you’re the only teacher.”