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Principal Ideas: Encourage Parent Envolvement and Support Teacher Attendance

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.

Parents in the P.M.

Many barriers -- including work schedules, other time constraints, and the parents' self-concepts -- keep parents from participating in their children's education. We have developed several opportunities for parents to be part of the school that attempt to alleviate those measures that prevent parents from volunteering. A classroom assistance program is one of those opportunities. The program is sponsored for parents who are unable to volunteer during the day. Weekly volunteer sessions are held in the evening. Teachers who need materials photocopied or laminated or cut-and-pasted provide detailed instructions. The parents are provided with the equipment to complete the projects.
Source: Jeffrey Castle, "Principals Share Parent Involvement ideas " ( -- February 28, 2000)

Daddy Donut Day

We invite dads and adopted dads or grandpas to come for a donut and milk one Friday morning in November or December. We begin with Pre-K one week and welcome a different grade level each subsequent Daddy Donut Day. We had granddads, uncles, and even high-school brothers show up to eat a donut and drink a milk with a member of our student body. The Board office even joined us one Friday to make sure every student had someone to sit by them and share the time. Our parent organization sponsored the event. The local donut shop provided donuts at a very reduced cost. As principal, I took about 15 minutes to address a captive audience -- to brag about our school, solicit support, and raise awareness of what we are doing. The best comment came from an older gentleman who attended as an adopted grandfather to one of our kindergarten students. He said, "This is the first time I have ever been invited to a school for a free donut, and I learned more today than I have read in the local paper about your school." That really drove home the need to get our message out to the public. We will make this an annual affair each fall. As a result of the event, I have had fathers volunteer at our school on their days off, and one dad is a homeroom father now!
Thanks for sharing this idea go to Cathy Williams, principal at Hall-Halsell Elementary School in Vinita, Oklahoma


The Kid Safe Child ID Network offers a Kid Safe Fingerprint-a-Thon community event idea. Find businesses willing to sponsor the event and 100 percent of the profit goes to your school. The biggest benefit is the peace of mind an event like this can provide for parents.
Source: Fifteen More Ideas for Fundraising Fun ( -- November 9, 2004)

Come-to-Work-Late Coupon Rewards Staff Attendance

Once a semester, or once a quarter, provide all staff members with a come-late-to-work-no-questions-asked form. (Or give that form to staff members who logged one or no absences in the most recent quarter.) That form represents two hours of time that can be taken at the start or end of the school day for any reason -- from sleeping in to getting a head start on the weekend. The only catch is that the form must be "cashed in" in advance so arrangements can be made to free an administrator or somebody else to cover the staff member's responsibilities. Little things like this cost no money and demonstrate that administrators are willing to go the extra mile for the folks who work for them.
Source: "25 Ways to Motivate Teachers" ( -- November 19, 2002)


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