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Principal Ideas
Volume #17

Just think of Principal Ideas as a virtual show-and-tell for principals.  Here are a few great ones.

From Ed World's

The biggest public relations budget in the world won't matter if your school projects a poor image in its most basic communications. Before you hire a consultant or a public relations staff person or recruit a parent volunteer, begin improving public relations in your school district by evaluating everyday communications:
  • How are people treated when they call the school? Is the person answering the phone courteous, friendly, and helpful?
  • Many schools have voice mail systems today. How well does yours work? Do callers get led through a frustrating phone maze? Most important of all, if a caller leaves a message, does the call get returned? Promptly?
  • Is the community notified of school events? Are parents given enough notice so they may arrange schedules to attend?
  • How well do you and your teachers communicate with parents? The more parents know what's going on, the more eager they are to support the mission of the school.
Source: William Harms, public relations consultant, Public Relations 101: How-To Tips for School Administrators

Secrets Signals Keep Meetings Moving

I always set an agenda for staff meetings in advance. No agenda item is allowed to extend into the time of the next item. Teachers are parents too, so I always designate one staff member as the clock-watcher. That person keeps the meeting on track. But the plan is not as simple as it sounds. It's much more fun! You see, the clock-watcher and I agree ahead of time on a secret "time up" signal such as a tug on the earlobe. When the clock-watcher signals, I move the focus of the meeting to the next agenda item. But who is the signaler, and what is the signal? That's all part of the fun! As staff members entered the meeting, each was given a heart with their name on it. When the meeting is over, they write on their heart the name of the clock-watcher and what the secret signal was. The hearts go into a bag and are drawn until a winner is found. I did not expect the hilarious ideas I got about the secret signal. Among the guesses were "when Diana fluffed her hair" or "when Gail played with her skirt." The important thing was that when the meeting ended, the agenda was complete, people were still laughing, and our collegiality was even more solidified.
Source: Bill Myers, "Great Staff Meetings: Pointers from the Principals Who Lead Them" ( -- August 20, 2002)

Pastries for Parents

Each month we hold a Pastries for Parents event in our conference room. We mail parents an invitation postcard several weeks in advance as a reminder to attend the event. Doughnuts, bagels, or muffins and fresh fruit are on the menu each month. Our hospitality committee along with our cafeteria manager assist with the food so that our parents are not burdened by the cost -- they can just show up, relax, and talk with other parents and their child's administrator about what's on their minds. Originally, this event was scheduled for 30 minutes right after buses arrived on the last Friday of each month. After the first meeting, however, parents requested more time. As a school that serves students with severe and profound disabilities, this event is an awesome opportunity to give our parents a chance to talk about their challenges and their daily struggles (and celebrations) raising a special-needs child. It was great to see that the parents quickly realized they had more in common than they knew. A success indeed! Thanks to Jacque Wisnauskas, principal at Howard T. Ennis School in Georgetown, Delaware


Church-Ladies as Partners

We are involved in a unique partnership with a neighborhood church that has adopted our school for a local mission, due to the high number (59 percent) of low-income families who attend our school. Ladies of the church prepare and serve meals to our families during our monthly family nights. Due to church-state issues, they do not preach or recruit families to come to their church, but these ladies can make some great dinners and they get joy knowing they are assisting families in need. It goes to show that you can do some great things with small partnerships and dedicated people. Last year at our back-to-school picnic we showed our appreciation by presenting an award to the church's pastor.
Source: Joe Corcoran, "School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools of All Sizes" ( -- September 16, 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 and your school's name.

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