Just think of Principal Ideas as a virtual show-and-tell for principals. Each week in the coming school year we'll present five new principal-tested ideas. Send in your idea today! See the sidebar to learn how to be part of Principal Ideas.
PRO (People Respecting Others) Award
One of the things that we emphasize in our school is respect. All week, teachers watch for respectful behaviors inside and outside the classroom. Teachers nominate students for the weekly award. The nominations are collected, and each week two winners -- one from the primary grades and one from the elementary grades -- are drawn. The winners are announced each Friday. I present an award to the students and add their names to a PRO Award poster in the school's entryway. A parent volunteer prepares and sends home a letter to the parents of all nominated students to inform them that their child was nominated. The PRO Award has really raised awareness and the frequency of respectful and kind behavior in our school. It has caught on here and the children really love it.
Source: Cathy Finn-Pike, principal, Rennie's River Elementary School, St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada)
Add Newspapers to Your PR List
The best PR move I made this year was to put the area newspapers on my e-mail list. I send copies of the school's newsletters, flyers, press releases, and bulletins to the community's newspaper editors; and I invite them to be guests at all school functions too. That is working out well. Our school is receiving more press attention and, if the media is unable to come to us, I write articles for them. I invite them to edit the articles as they see fit. I even take digital pictures and forward those pictures to them.
Source: Jean Williams, principal, Turner Middle School, Lithia Springs, Georgia
My schedule has not allowed a lot of time for developing substantial business alliances. However, I've encouraged our PTA to do so, and the PTA leaders have hooked us up with local companies to underwrite some school activities. One of the most successful of those programs was a promotion at a local Burger King restaurant. The school earned a percentage of the gross receipts on a special night. The kids collected receipts from customers as they passed through the line and, at the end of the evening, the PTA got a sizeable check. This activity was by far the greatest fund-raiser I have witnessed. The PTA is happy and the local Burger King proprietor is thrilled with the good will that is great for its reputation in the neighborhood.
Source: Larry Anderson, "School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools of All Sizes" (EducationWorld.com -- September 16, 2003)
Staff meetings led by "inside guests" -- members of a school's staff -- can be great fun and terrific learning experiences. Giving teachers, individually or in groups, an opportunity to shine can help develop school leaders and build staff morale. One of my favorite staff meetings was one led by one of our teachers -- a second-grade teacher who shared what she had learned in a graduate level course she had taken. She presented Mazlow and Bloom to a staff of experienced teachers who respected her abilities. The goal was to simply present a new idea and to provide enough knowledge to pique interest in furthering the learning. I believe the success of that meeting came from the idea that a teacher led the meeting and that I participated in the session as a learner. The staff became so interested in sharing new learning that that type of meeting soon became standard practice in the building. Everyone learned from one another, which helped to develop staff morale and raise the level of expertise of the entire staff.
Source: Jim DeGenova, "Great Staff Meetings: Pointers from the Principals Who Lead Them" (EducationWorld.com -- August 20, 2002)
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