The National English Honor Society (NEHS), founded and sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, is the only international organization exclusively for secondary students and faculty who, in the field of English, merit special note for past and current accomplishments. Individual secondary schools are invited to petition for a local chapter, through which individuals may be inducted into Society membership. Immediate benefits of affiliation include academic recognition, scholarship and award eligibility, and opportunities for networking with others who share enthusiasm for, and accomplishment in, the language arts.
America's first honor society was founded in 1776, but high school students didn't have access to such organizations for another 150 years. Since then, high school honor societies have been developed in leadership, drama, journalism, French, Spanish, mathematics, the sciences, and in various other fields, but not in English. In 2005, National English Honor Society launched and has been growing steadily since, becoming one of the largest academic societies for secondary schools.
As Joyce Carol Oates writes, "This is the time for which we have been waiting." Or perhaps it was Shakespeare: "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer . . ." we celebrate English studies through NEHS.
National Organization History:
Adopted 6 November 2004
Revised 16 September 2016
NEHS has the following primary goals:
- to recognize on the Society level those who, on the basis of academic grades and performance, merit special note for past and current accomplishments;
- to nurture members to further develop their abilities in the various fields of English; and
- to encourage members to use their talents in the service of others.
The Sigma Tau Delta Board of Directors believes that such goals are appropriate for students of English at all levels, and that with the development of NEHS (preceded in 1994 by the founding of Sigma Kappa Delta), students of various backgrounds and grade levels can share with one another their mutual appreciation of, and excitement with, literature, fine writing, language and media studies.
The basic unit of NEHS is the chapter. Every chapter is comprised of
- students from one or more high schools,
- one or more English teachers who serve as the chapter's Advisor(s), and
- a Faculty Advisory Council that consists of no fewer than three English teachers, including the Chapter Advisor(s).
Chapters are organized by region according to the states in which they are based. Each region has faculty representatives who serve on the National Advisory Council, which oversees the development and direction of NEHS.