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Principal Ideas: A New School Year

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.

Join the Fun --
Share an Idea!

The ideas presented in this article come from the Education World archive and from principals just like you. Since these principals have been kind enough to "show and tell" an idea, now it's your turn! Share an idea you've used to
- Celebrate Students
- Plan a Special Event
- Welcome Students Back to School
- Make Graduation Day Special
- Liven Up Your A.M. Announcements
- Motivate Teachers
- Involve Parents
- Raise Money
- Plan an Effective Staff Meeting
- Get Some Good PR for Your School
or any other topic of interest to principals.

Send your idea today to principalideas@
Be sure to include your name, your school name, and your school address because if we post your idea in Principal Ideas, we'll send you an Education World mug!

First Day of School "School Hug"

On the first day of school, we do a "school hug." Students form a ring around the school and give the school a big group hug! We've found this to be a nice way to say "Welcome back." Parents love it because it's an interesting "event" and a nice photo opportunity. For kids, it helps from the very start of the year to build a sense of "school family."
Thanks to Bernard Falahee, principal at Raupp Elementary School in Lincoln Park, Michigan

Theme of the Year

We start each school year with a new theme. Previous years' themes have been "NASCAR -- Racing Into a Good Year" and "Riding the Wave -- Continued Success for Every Student." During the year, we refer frequently to the theme of the year.
Thanks to Robert Evans, principal at Washington Irving Elementary School in Edmond, Oklahoma

Trivia Time

Teachers need appreciation often, not just during the annual recognition week. That's why I keep filling the candy jar in the staff lounge. It is also why I frequently offer prizes for the correct answer to trivia questions I post on the white board in the staff lounge. Those are just a couple of the things I do all year long to show my appreciation to the teachers.
Source: Patricia Green, "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long" ( -- April 22, 2003)

Clean Slate

At the start of a new school year, it is important to give kids a fresh start. I encourage my staff and teachers to look at our students not as failures, but as students who haven't reached their potential. I tell my staff "Don't dwell on last year's problems. Treat every student as a new student without baggage." I remind teachers that we should all treat students like we would want our own children or ourselves to be treated. As much as I ask teachers to think that way about students, I try to think of teachers in the same way: Each year is a "clean slate."
Source: Dee Manitzas, Principals Search for Words to Rally the Troops

School Assemblies Raise Spirt

Our music and PE teachers get together to lead a monthly school spirit assembly. Students with perfect attendance for the previous month are recognized. We make it a big deal for the kids. They sit in a VIP section. They receive a certificate, a ribbon, and a McDonald's coupon. The assemblies also include special speakers who address issues central to our school's curriculum. We have had speakers talk about the need for students to learn to work hard now so they can be successful in the future. These two teachers really pump up the kids about how neat it is to hear their names at the assembly, and they have organized some of the most fun skits I have ever seen. At a recent spirit assembly, a special "Leader of the Pack" skit was the highlight. The skit included several teachers and some parent volunteers -- and the principal! -- all on tricycles performing to the oldie tune. I even had an eventful "crash" at the appropriate time during the song. Oh, and there were "Doo Whop" girls on stage too!
Source: Ernest Elliott, Teachers Who Make Principals Say WOW!

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