Delta Kappa Gamma International Society members coordinate a Mahjong Tournament to benefit a local high school graduate.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
For over 90 years, the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society has nurtured future generations of women educators worldwide. In 2021, its local Beta Omicron chapter upholds the core principles upon which the society was founded, contributing to professional excellence and reinforcing the importance of women encouraging fellow women in all aspects of life.
While the Beta Omicron chapter of DKG serves educators and women through various projects throughout the community, from partnerships with Special Programming for Achievement Network (SPAN) and donating supplies to local schools to assisting with the Salvation Army and giving books to libraries, the chapter’s annual fundraiser – a Mahjong tournament – personifies the society’s mission overall.
Mahjong Tournament chair Donna Spraggins applauded the recent April event’s success, commenting on the society’s incredible support amidst concerns of the pandemic. Spraggins learned Mahjong under the patient guidance of a former coworker at Gaston, who taught seven teachers the tile-based Chinese strategy game. The original group who grew to love the game together still play with each other every other Wednesday, carrying on the tradition. As a game that constantly changes, Spraggins described Mahjong as a beneficial resource in exercising one’s brain and keeping one’s mind sharp.
Yet while Spraggins shares her enjoyement of Mahjong with several other DKG members like previous event chair person Gail Spotnitz, the mission behind the event remains the members’ central focus. Since its inception three years ago, DKG’s Mahjong tournament serves as an annual gift for a local high school graduate. All funds raised from the Mahjong tournament generate a grant-in-aid given to a young woman within the community who plans to pursue a career in education.
“I don’t know any other event that would help future educators in Gadsden,” said Spraggins. “This is very important. When I first joined Delta Kapa Gamma, [this grant-in-aid] was one of the reasons I joined. Just to help anybody start out in college was important to me, and that’s why I do this.”
Current chapter president Judy Hill commended the collaborative efforts of all DKG members to host the tournament, which was held at the Gadsden Country Club. An educator who served at five universities over the course of 35 years, including Gadsden State Community College and the University of Alabama’s Gadsden Center, Hill first felt a calling toward education from her very own eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Wilson. Inspired by Wilson’s pristine presence and intelligence, Hill realized one day she hoped to become a woman like her role model, someone who served students and made a positive difference in the lives of others.
“There’s more coming into the activity than just playing Mahjong,” said Hill. “The event is important because everybody puts in a little bit, with the synergy of the activity, and it ends up being a really nice scholarship to a young lady. I would even venture to say it’s a life changing scholarship, because the money we raise can actually cover a semester for her. It’s all about helping a young person. Those ladies [who coordinate the event] – it’s just their heart to raise money for this scholarship.”
This year’s grant recipient is Glencoe High School’s Taylor Holder, who upon graduation will further her education at Jacksonville State University, where she will major in Early Childhood/Elementary Education.
“What we really would like to see come from this is whoever gets this scholarship and goes into education, that she would then want to come back and be a part of Delta Kappa Gamma,” said state officer and district director Susan Copeland. “We want that cycle. I just wish there was more and more we could to do let teachers know we appreciate them – you are appreciated, and we value you.”
Copeland travels around the state on behalf of the organization, visiting other chapters and gaining their perspectives. She noted when she asks neighboring members what they would miss most if DKG were not in their lives, the same resounding answer abounds – the fellowship.
United in their love of fostering future educators, DKG members build resolute friendships based upon their common circumstances and their mutual understanding of the profession. Copeland shared that as individuals age, maintaining a trustworthy support system proves vital in life. DKG offers its members just that – a sisterhood enriched with laughter and encouragement, empathetic people ever willing to provide a kind word or prayer when needed most.
Spraggins reiterated Copeland’s emphasis on friendship and the bond that DKG members share.
“It’s very important to all of us to help the community,” said Spraggins. “We have a lot in common – as former teachers, we’ve all been in the same situation. I think the camaraderie is important at our age and when this comes up every year, the goal is for it to be successful. I work and do what I can to make sure that it’s successful. I think we’re very fortunate to have as many people as we have here today.”
As naturally loving individuals, Copeland described the teaching profession as an outlet where educators can advocate for others through compassion. In loving children and nurturing their academic and personal growth, educators inspire others to follow in their footsteps, to impact individuals in the same powerful manner.
“No one would be anywhere without their teachers,” said Copeland. “Education needs to be a top priority. Teachers are just loving people anyway…that’s why we’re in education, because we love children and we want to give that love to others.”
Through events like the Mahjong tournament, DKG replenishes a cycle of generosity, cultivating generations of educational leaders and empowered women for years to come. Together, DKG members welcome new eras of female educators as their predecessors did before them, achieving the continual goal of inspiring young women to achieve their dreams, creating classrooms led by understanding and determined women, who share their vision for a brighter future.
“To me, the idea of working together as a group can accomplish so much more than we as individuals can,” said Hill. “That’s the whole purpose of being in a society. It’s not just my ideas or my energy, but these young ladies as they come in provide more vision and more vitality.”