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Principal Ideas: Music, Dads, Cows, and More

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.

Music at Lunch

Pointers from

Education World columnist George Pawlas is author of The Administrator's Guide to School-Community Relations, which contains hundreds of great principal ideas -- like this one that Pawlas shared with us:

Did you know that realtors in your area meet regularly to talk about new homes for sale? Why not get in touch with a local realtor and ask if you can come to their next meeting to share information with them about your school? (Better yet, invite them to hold the meeting in your school so you can give them a tour!) Chances are they don't know about all the special programs that are available in your school. Share copies of recent school newsletters, information about after-school activities, news of accomplishments of teachers If you have a promotional 3-panel brochure that tells about your school, be sure to share copies so the realtors can pass them on to their clients.

Be sure to see George Pawlas's monthly Ed World column, Pawlas on PR for PRincipals. Click here to learn more about his book, The Administrator's Guide to School-Community Relations, or to purchase a copy.

Clanging chairs and students' high energy levels can make the school cafeteria a pretty noisy place. In order to bring a little order to the cafeteria, we play music for 6 minutes. During that time, students observe quiet rules. If they maintain quiet during the 6 minutes of music, they earn 4 minutes to chat. If they do a good job, we praise the students' cafeteria behavior in our p.m. announcements.
Thanks to Sandra Clay, principal at Clifton Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia

Dad's Club

Mothers tend to be more involved in students' educations that fathers do, but that doesn't mean that dads don't want to be involved. We plan events that give dads special opportunities to get involved. We plan a school clean-up day that attracts lots of fathers. We also do a father-daughter dance at which we take prom-like pictures. To give mothers equal time, we do a mother-son campout.
Thanks to Rochelle Pokorny, principal at Highland Elementary School in Norco, California

Secret Spook Week

The December holidays can be such a busy time. Instead of adding one more thing to do and one more expense to the month of December, why not spread around the fun? In October, for example, we hold Secret Spook Week. Those teachers who want to participate fill out a profile form that asks questions about favorite colors, foods, drinks, hobbies, and so on. Then each participant draws another staff member's profile form and becomes that person's "Secret Spook." Each Secret Spook provides small token gifts for the other person all week long. The total expenditure for each participant was set at $10.
Source: "25 Ways to Motivate Teachers" ( -- November 19, 2002)

Moo-cho Money

Every October, school officials at Del Oro High School in Loomis, California, mark off their football field into 1-yard squares. Then they let out three cows onto the field. The school sells chances to community members. Each chance buys into one of the squares marked on the grid. The people on whose squares the cows deposit droppings are the winners! They divide the pot. True, this is not a fund-raising method for everyone, but with cow-chip bingo, Del Oro High raises about $20,000 each year, enough money to fund its 37 sports teams.
Source: "Fund-Raising Ideas: Raise Money Without Selling Door-to-Door" (, 1999)

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
- Welcome Students Back to School
- Motivate Teachers
- Involve Parents
- Raise Money
- Plan a Special Event
- Make Graduation Day Special
- Liven Up Your A.M. Announcements
- 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 [email protected].

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!

Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2006 Education World