Teacher Tribe

I embrace some health hints with great joy. Finding out that coffee was rich in antioxidants and discouraged the onset of several dire diseases gave me an excuse for one of life’s great pleasures. Another recent health hint stressed the importance of building social capital and recommended finding what it called your “tribe.”

Tribe? I’ve got Tribes! Who knew good health could be so much fun?

I spent last Friday and Saturday with one of my favorite tribes – Zeta State [Mississippi] Delta Kappa Gamma. Officially, the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International is “a professional honorary society of women educators established in 1929 that promotes professional and personal growth of its members and excellence in education.” My unofficial definition is “a group of women who see teaching as a calling rather than just a job.”  Our group ranges from those early in their careers to those who have to look hard in the rear view mirror to find their retirement.

Even for the latter, one could paraphrase the old saying with, “You can take a teacher out of the classroom, but you can never take the classroom out of the teacher.” When I asked Earline Hart, my ninety-year-old roommate, if she wanted to go with me to a workshop I had chosen, she declined. She had selected a different workshop, which would give her some new ideas for the tutoring she was doing at a local school.

This weekend our Mississippi section of the international tribe experienced fellowship, workshops, inspiration, and traditional ceremonies. One of the speakers took me back to my health hint as she told our tribe members that Delta Kappa Gamma’s insurance providers told her the society members lived longer than any of their other beneficiaries. If you are a female teacher [sorry, guys] with a sense of calling, I recommend finding a Delta Kappa Gamma member in your area and wangling an invitation to join the tribe. You’ll gain a lot more than health benefits.

That experience finished just in time for me to head to a couple of other favorite tribes – but more about that later.