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Principal Ideas: Family Involvement 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.

Map Attack

From Ed World's

Middle school students still need their parents, even when they seem to be pushing them away. Parents think they have to back off, but middle school is the most crucial time for parents to stay active. They can be involved and know what's going on and still give children room to grow and gain independence. It's a balance. To help parents achieve that balance, we came up with the idea to invite parents and significant others into school for the day -- the whole day! When we started the program four years ago, we had to clarify for teachers that we didn't want a dog-and-pony show. We encouraged teachers not to change anything -- to go on with their regular activities and maintain as normal a day as possible. If the kids go to their lockers, the parents go to the lockers. When the kids go to lunch, the parents go to lunch. If the kids are taking a test, the parents take the test.
Source: Tara Fair, Parents Step Into Students' Sneakers for a Day

When a teacher is out of his or her classroom with the students, I write a positive note on the whiteboard, then pull the map down to cover the note. When the teacher returns to the classroom and pulls on the map to return it to position, he or she will be quite surprised and happy to read what I have written!
Thanks to Linda Nudd, principal at Bellevue Elementary School in Bellevue, Iowa

Country-Western Opening Day

To get parents involved and to add some fun to our opening day of school, we allowed students and teachers to wear western gear and hats. We held a parent night "Hoe Down BBQ" and organized a whole-school line-dance assembly.
Thanks to Mike Catrilo, principal at J.T. Lambert Intermediate School in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Grandperson's -- Not Grandparents -- Day

We hold a Grandperson's Day on the Friday before Mother's Day. A "grandperson" in a child's life (not necessarily a grandparent) attends a special performance and goes to the student's classroom to work on a project. Then the grandperson accompanies the child to lunch and recess. One year, our fifth graders presented a USO show -- as a culminating activity related to their study of WWII -- for Grandperson's Day.
Source: "Principals Share Parent Involvement ideas " ( -- February 28, 2000)

Families Come First on Graduation Day

We believe graduation is a time for families to come first. Families come to see their kids walk across the stage, so everything works from there. We make an extra effort to communicate carefully and often with families about the upcoming events. We spend the extra postage to mail each family an invitation to the ceremony along with information about how many tickets they will receive, parking, times, dress you name it, we mail it. We also know that the best speeches at graduation are the ones given by students. We let them talk about their four years and the future. We don't get some Ph.D. to tell kids to be flexible or to be lifelong learners.
Source: Tony Pallija, "Make Graduation Day a Special Day Across the Grades" ( -- May 13, 2003)

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