Every profession has many organizations involving membership opportunities. These organizations offer a number of opportunities, contacts, connections, and/or rewards for becoming a member – some for free, some involving annual dues or membership fee.
Certainly, few members of the education community have the time or the funds to join every professional organization that comes calling. However, high school speech and music educators should not pass on the opportunity to join the professional groups established by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) – the NFHS Speech/Debate/Theatre Association and the NFHS Music Association.
Membership in the NFHS Music Association and/or the NFHS Speech, Debate & Theatre Association provides support for organizations that represent their profession on regional, state and national levels. Membership in those associations allows each individual member and the school to be a part of the relevant discussions happening at those levels that is shaping education now and for years to come.
Some of these discussions include the place of speech and music professions in the school day, after-school programs, the Every Student Success Act (ESSA), how educational policies at all levels can and should include student opportunities in the performing arts, and how funds at the national level can be directed to the performing arts. Through membership in the NFHS organizations, the opportunity to not only contribute but personally participate in the discussion is always a possibility.
Does participation in that discussion matter – given that educators in these professions hardly have time to advocate through their Congressman for more arts funding? The small spaces in any educator’s day are spent advocating for their own students, their school program, their local opportunities. Membership in profession- focused organizations allows an educator’s reach to extend beyond the borders of his or her community, county and state.
Certainly, membership in any professional organization should provide some tangible benefits for individuals to share their hardearned funds with any organization, and membership in the NFHS performing arts associations provide great opportunities for professional development:
While most memberships have a fee or cost, some truly have usable benefits that are valuable on a daily basis. Such is the case with the two NFHS associations that provide not only support when you need it, but support, direction and guidance to make your efforts with students more effective, efficient and enjoyable. And becoming a member extends your reach to levels beyond your school and state. A balance of tangibles and intangibles makes NFHS membership a bargain.
Steffen Parker, a member of the High School Today Publications Committee, is a music educator, computer geek and instructional support specialist from Vermont where he organizes music festivals and supports other states with online services for their events.