Just as the Emmys give Hollywood a chance to honor their own, public school employees have AEW as a chance to recognize all hard-working public school employees.
NEA, the National Education Association, encourages schools and communities to set aside one week in November to honor the people who make schools run smoothly. One way to increase a sense of appreciation within the public schools is to have students recognize the importance of the cogs in the wheel.
A Week of Celebration
By breaking up the celebrations into moments across the week, students will have the benefits of thanking those who serve them without a loss of instructional time. Schools can divide up the week so that each day highlights a special contribution or a special group.
Some of the groups to be honored include: school board members, administrators, teachers, librarians, counselors, parents, substitutes, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and staff members. There are more groups to recognize than days of the week, so some clever scheduling is required.
Honoring School Board Members and Administrators
Most districts have more schools than school board members, so including school board members in daily activities seamlessly integrates them into American Education Week. For example, a school board member could lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a different school every day, and eat school lunch in the cafeteria of different schools each day.
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At the board building level and the school building level, administrators deserve recognition and appreciation. Rather than ask the PTA to spend money on mugs or other token gifts, thank you notes from parents, teachers, and students are meaningful gifts that will be truly appreciated. Asking students to write one idea or fact that was learned in school and one activity or event that was enjoyed in school will help administrators see that they are, in fact, succeeding with every child.
Faculty and Staff Appreciation
Having students write letters to teachers from previous years is a fun way to help teachers feel appreciated. A happy voice from the past is always welcome. Supply donations are a useful way to recognize the importance of teachers and their classroom needs. It is important to remember special service teachers, such as speech path teachers, because they greatly impact education.
All staff members, from the friendly face in the office to the bus driver who waves goodbye at the end of the day, deserve recognition and appreciation. Thank you notes are appreciated by everyone, and specifically mentioning how that person's job contributes makes the message personal and touching. School office staff and cafeteria staff are often responsible for decorating their areas for the holidays, so some holiday decorations might be useful.
Students Need Appreciation, Too
It is important to include students as a group needing appreciation, and they are an easy group to thank because students are generally very willing to share ideas of how to add some magic to the school days. Having a school game hour or a movie during lunch adds fun without taking too much time away from instruction.
Because American Education Week was originally organized by the teacher's union, it makes sense that it is a resource for all participants, whether they are union members or not. The NEA has a long list of suggestions, from "cutesy" ideas of giving ice cream bars to people with the message "you're cool" to more involved community ideas in a week of grateful living.