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Principal Ideas:
Encouraged Learning

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!

Service Learning Across the Elementary Grades

At Newsome Park Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, all students participate in a service-learning program that integrates community service into every aspect of the curriculum. The youngest students exchange visits with senior citizens. Second and third graders provide food and clothing to needy families -- and exchange letters with the families as part of their study of letter writing and the postal system. Fourth and fifth graders adopt a ward at the local VA hospital -- and learn about the technology used to treat patients there.
Source: Is Character Education the Answer?

"Enouraging Words" Chain

Start an "Encouraging Words" chain. Use a computer to design and print special cards, or purchase card stock and attach a small apple sticker to each card. The principal will begin the chain by sending the first five cards to five deserving faculty members. The next week, the principal places a blank "Encouraging Words" card in the mailbox of each teacher who received one the week before. Each of those teachers sends an "Encouraging Words" card to another of their colleagues. And the cycle continues Include the entire staff -- don't forget custodians, cafeteria workers, teacher assistants, bus drivers, and others -- in this project. You might even attach to each card an apple sticker that still has on its backing. As teachers drop "Encouraging Words" cards in their colleagues' mailboxes, they affix the sticker next to the person's name on their mailbox. That way, teachers can see who has not yet been recognized; all staff members should be recognized once before anybody receives a second recognition.
Source: "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long" ( -- April 22, 2003)

So-This-Is-Junior High Night

Each March, we begin sending copies of our monthly newsletter to parents of sixth graders who will be entering out school the following fall. The newsletter helps parents start to become familiar with our programs and people. In May, parents and students are invited to a "So-This-Is-Junior-High Night." Lots of questions are answered at that time. Finally, on the day before school starts, students in the year's incoming class are invited in for a half-day to meet their classmates and teachers, learn to navigate their new school, and generally become more comfortable with the environment that will be their home for the next three years.
Source: Patricia Green, "Schools Find Many Ways to Say 'Welcome Back'" ( -- August 19, 2003)

Tools At Their Fingertips

Every student in our school has a personal 3x5 filebox with an alphabetic index. Students are encouraged to write words they like or find interesting on index cards and place them in the box. When a student has to write creative essays, he or she can look in the box to find favorite words to use. As the box becomes full, the child gets excited and shows off to everyone how many words he or she knows. Then we give the child a second box. The boxes of words serve as concrete representations of our students' vocabulary growth. The box is also used to store an audio cassette of each child reading a short story and the students personal calculator.
Thanks to Dr. Elise Bourne-Busby, principal at Whittier Elementary School in Teaneck, New Jersey

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