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Principal Ideas: Partnerships, Transitions, 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.

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:

Do you get all the mileage you can out of your school marquee? (Not to worry! If your school doesn't have a marquee out front, perhaps a local business will let you "borrow" space on one side of their marquee. You only need one side for people to see your message.) Use your marquee space to announce
  • special performances and events.
  • student achievements and awards.
  • test-result success.
    Or maybe your school has a special need. One day I passed a school marquee that announced "WE NEED TENNIS BALLS." Turns out they were collecting tennis balls to put on the bottom of the legs of students' desk chairs so the chairs would glide quietly across floors. I'm not sure how well that marquee worked out for them, but it was a great way to get out the message!
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.

Easing the Transition

Long before students enter South Milwaukee High, high school counselors visit them at the middle school and get to know them. Eighth graders also visit the high school and talk with students and administrators there. Rising freshmen who need additional support are assigned an upper class mentor before they enroll, and the students meet twice a quarter. Freshmen also start school a day before the rest of the student body, so they have a chance to meet faculty and find their way around before the building is filled. They return to their homerooms twice during the first day to discuss how their day is going. All ninth graders also complete a questionnaire about themselves, their interests, and their families. After I read the forms, I meet briefly with every freshman. The school is expecting between 325 and 350 freshmen this year [so I think they're surprised that I take the time to meet them]. Then they look at me like, "Wow, this guy is really human."
Source: Andrew Blaha, A Smooth Transition Can Mean a Smooth Year

Email (and Eat-Mail) Partnerships

I have arranged with several businesses -- including a local bakery, a TCBY ice cream shop, and McDonald's -- to provide coupons for teacher treats. I hand out the coupons to teachers who have gone above-and-beyond. Giving a coupon for a free cookie is a nice private way of saying thank you. And special arrangements such as these are a win-win for the school and the local bakery. The cookie coupon is a win for the bakery because it gets "free" advertising and most people will buy something in addition to the cookie. We also have a unique partnership that involves workers at a local company who tutor students via e-mail. Students e-mail writing samples and the workers provide feedback.
Source: Kathy House, "School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools of All Sizes" ( -- September 16, 2003)

"Clothes Call" Fundraiser

Here's a fun way to raise some money. Allow students or faculty to wear special clothing. For example, sponsor a Hat Day. Students who purchase a sticker for a dollar can wear a hat to school on Hat Day. (Our students are not allowed to wear hats in school, so many of them jumped at this opportunity to have fun.) Or if your school has a strict dress code for teachers, teachers might pay a couple dollars for the privilege of wearing jeans to school. (In one school, the money raised was donated to support breast cancer research.)
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