by David Premo
“…and the creek don’t rise….” That centuries-old quote was popularized in a Johnny Cash song. The colloquial meaning is “we will succeed if all goes well.”
The creek did rise in District 58, along with all the rivers, streams, lakes and ponds as a 1000-year flood threatened to wash out the 2015 Toastmasters’ Fall Conference and the humorous speech finals. Nevertheless, the District succeeded in spite of the adversities of nature. As the fiscal year draws to a close at the end of June, District 58’s performance reached the level of Distinguished District. “We have not done that in the last four years,” explained 2015-2016 District Director Sharon Durgin. “We are very close [with two days to go at this writing] to reaching Select District status, and President’s Distinguished is a real possibility.”
The district rose to the challenge issued by District Director Durgin, who made the district theme for the year “Take the Challenge.” She challenged her colleagues in the Trio, Kimberly Love and Dana Swarner, and they in turn challenged the members of the District Executive Committee (DEC).
“We wanted to turn the District’s momentum around,” Sharon recalled. “So we challenged ourselves and every Toastmaster to do more: reach an education goal, start a new club, increase participation in contests, raise conference attendance, and have more club officers and members engaged in Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI).”
To keep the challenge spirit alive, Sharon instituted a requirement to earn seating assignments at the regular DEC meetings. “Using the educational award data from Toastmasters International, we calculated the success of every division before each DEC meeting. The divisions with the highest scores got the front row seats, and as performance numbers declined, lower scoring divisions sat farther in the back. It was competitive and fun,” she explained.
She further enlivened the DEC meetings by having divisions take turns hosting the meeting including setting up, cleaning up, providing refreshments, and filling the last educational segment of the meeting with a fun, creative approach to some training point.
“Next year (2016-2017) I will still be on the DEC, but just sit quietly in the corner unless called on,” she quipped. Boredom won’t be a problem for the outgoing District Director. Sharon just published a children’s Christmas book and will be promoting her book wherever possible.
There may still be another trip. It was exactly 10 years ago when District 58 last made President’s Distinguished, and the district leaders walked the red carpet at the International Convention in Washington. The convention is back in DC this year. District 58 is close with a couple of days for more points to come in.
Maybe…if the creek don’t rise….