Thanks to Judy Merz for this history, compiled for the Alpha Zeta State 75th Anniversary. The photo is from the state convention in 2012; Download the Alpha Zeta State History from which this is taken.
Alpha Chapter is best characterized by the warmth of spirit and genuine fellowship that has grown out of the chapter’s longevity. The diversity of professional expertise and personal talents exhibited by members brings to Alpha’s program a wide spectrum of topics of current and lasting interests. The first meeting in 1947 reflected members’ professional interest in government, as Passaic County Freeholder Mattie Doremus discussed the new Constitution of the State of New Jersey. Now, 65 years later, those interests, concerns, and programs have elevated our Alpha sisters into the 21st century as women in the field of education on all levels. For Alpha Zeta’s 50th Anniversary, History Committee members Mae Christensen, Marie McGuire, Alberta Mount, and Carol Corby (chair), summarized the chapter as follows: International interests are evident in the Fulbright awards received by members Anna Flanagan, Tillie Hoitsma, Felipa Jackson, Ruth Schabacker, Sibyl Stevens, Gertrude Taylor, and Beatrice Searles. The chapter has also extended hospitality to exchange teachers from other countries. Personal travel by members, from Iceland to China, from the Middle East to Scandinavia, contributes to our understanding of people in all corners of the globe.
Concern for teachers and education provides impetus to many chapter meetings, and has seen Ida Housman serve as trustee of the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund, Rita Jacoby serve as president of New Jersey Elementary Classroom Teachers Association and as president of the National Education Association of National Classroom Teachers, and Marie Yevak serve as state president of American Association of University Women. Madeline Fick served as a member of the Delegate Assembly of the New Jersey Education Association.
Alpha was responsible, under the leadership of Mary Sandford, Expansion Chair, for the organization of Epsilon Chapter on April 24, 1960, with 19 charter members.
This pride in personal and professional growth has continued during the past 25 years and has been evident in recipients of the Annie Webb Blanton International Scholarships, Alpha Zeta State grants, and Hoistma Grants-in-aid presented to Alpha sisters, as well as in the continuing service of Alpha members on the state organization level.
Since 1988, professional, motivational, and inspirational programs have been in the forefront of Alpha’s ever-enriching legacy. Programs that focused on being ahead of the educational curve included individual speakers, tours, and panel discussions shared with members. Topics for speakers and panels have been wide-ranging: The School Decision Process Survey; Interactive Television to Connect Schools; Resource Programs for Handicapped Students; The Empowerment of Women; The Aging Professional Woman; Kwanza; NJ Core Curriculum Standards; DARE; Mentoring of Preservice and Inservice Teachers; Right Brain/Left Brain Dominance; March of the Monarch; Engineering Our Future NJ; Magic of Stress Relief; Emergency Preparedness; Women in Politics; Google; A Few of Our Favorite Things; Block Scheduling. Field trips have included a sojourn to Ellis Island; tour of the Ford Mansion and Museum in Morristown; a visit to the Liberty Science Center and to the Meadowlands Environmental Center; and, most recently, cultural trips to New York City to see displays such as the Tut Exhibition.
In the same way, Alpha Chapter has consistently promoted a wide variety of Program of Work projects, including donating gifts to the needy for Christmas at Friendship Corner in Paterson; eyeglasses to New Eyes for the Needy; clothing and school supplies to the Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter, North Porch, and Friendship Pregnancy Crisis Center; clothing to Essex County Hospital; books to a Native American library and the Valerie Fund; and pajamas, books, and cash to The Pajama Program. In a particularly personal outreach, members contributed to the Don Imus Tomorrow’s Children Center at Hackensack Hospital and adopted several children through the Hugs and Hopes Foundation for Sick Children, sending happy mail and requested gifts to two children. Contributions to DKG international projects such as the Gambia Project, World Fellowship, and Schools for Africa extended chapter charitable work beyond the state organization level.
Alpha Chapter has also actively promoted the professional growth of its members and of aspiring young educators. During the 1994-1996 biennium, Alpha chapter received a significant bequest from Tillie Hoistma, who served as chapter president in 1960-1962. A board of trustees was established to oversee the fund, and the first three grants were awarded to Judy Merz, Marie Yevak, and Pattie Caruso. By virtue of this grant program, Alpha sisters have had the opportunity to advance their educational opportunities and knowledge through applying for and attending international conventions, regional conferences, and seminars and, in many instances, presenting to their worldwide sisters. Within the chapter, for the past 30+ years, members have supported and presented grants to outstanding high-school senior girls who wish to pursue a degree in the field of education. In 2010-2012, as an example, the chapter recognized three recipients with grants totaling more than $1650. Members are always excited and proud to meet the winners (and proud parent) at the chapter’s May meeting.
Alpha members have also always been active in educational organizations and in DKG beyond the chapter level. When the New State Core Curriculum Standards were being presented to New Jersey teachers, many Alpha sisters assumed prime roles in helping to implement the future path of education in New Jersey. Members have also embraced other lives by serving on boards of educations, town councils, historical societies, volunteer advocate groups, hospital boards, friends of local libraries, and countless other civic and spiritual organizations.
Within DKG, these past 30+ years have recorded Alpha sisters answering the call to promote professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education, as there has always been an Alpha member serving on the state level in a leadership position. Eleven Alpha members have served as Alpha Zeta State President: Ruth Thomas, Frances Beer Tibbits, Viola Stokes, Bess Lewis Gettrich, Charlotte E. Patterson, Mary L. Briant, Jeanette Middlebrook, Beatrice A. Searles, Marie McGuire, Judy Merz, and Claire Swanson. Countless Alpha members have served in other offices and as state committee chairs, contributing to the growth of Alpha Zeta State. Carol Corby and Claire Swanson earned the state’s Dedicated Service Award, as did Margaret Anzul, a former Alpha member and president. Sisters also traveled many miles to advance the Seven Purposes of the Society—from Toronto to Tennessee, Virginia to Vermont, Minnesota to Traverse City, San Diego to Texas, Bean Town to Hershey—and of course, the Big Apple in 2012—via regional conferences and international conventions.
In recent years, the chapter has worked to enhance meetings and programs to attract and retain younger members. Its success was evident in particular in the 2008-2010 biennium, in which members gave birth to seven babies! To help keep members connected, Alpha developed a chapter directory in 1996, providing photos and brief
personal histories of each member. This initiative evolved, in 2010-2012, into the Biennium of the Member, in which each meeting featured a PowerPoint spotlighting four members—an updated way to share information about members! In a similar way, as the chapter has increasingly embraced technology, the printed chapter newsletter established in 1995 has evolved into regular updates from Jan Paxton (unofficial tech guru) through Rosebuds, the chapter’s electronic link to what is what!
Alpha has also fostered the state organization through expansion, sponsoring Epsilon in 1960 and Theta in 1964. What was a dream, a goal, or perhaps a quest on the horizon for 10 or more years—to establish a new chapter in the West Morris County area—came true with Tau becoming the 19th Chapter in Alpha Zeta State in 2003. Margaret Anzul (Alpha President, 1990-1992) became the charter president, and 17 Alpha sisters transferred to Tau to ensure growth and spiritual fellowship for years to come. Alpha celebrated its 50th Anniversary at the Paris Inn in Wayne and its 65th Anniversary in October 2012 at the Regency in Wayne. Hand in hand this loyal band, forward moving ever has encouraged Alpha sisters to share the many memories and the expertise that are connected to major personal growth. We continue to honor and support the purposes of the Society by seeking outstanding women educators in all areas to become a member of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International … an involved members of Alpha Zeta State…. and an ALPHA.