Monday, January 26, 2015

"Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together." James Cash Penney

I was very fortunate to work in a school in which the teachers really cared about the students, and we worked as a group to make our school better.  The staff was composed of many leaders, but only one common agenda: improving the school climate.

What kinds of activities did we promote?  We sponsored an in-service day Canadian Breakfast for the entire district staff at our school, with monies used for student activities.  This breakfast was a yearly function for over a decade.  The staff also worked with the students to clean up and beautify the courtyards of our once award-winning, but later, neglected green spaces. Homeroom teachers worked together to promote "penny wars", uniting the staff and student body toward a common fund raising goal. We sponsored North Allegheny Intermediate, aka, NAI Idol, as well as a Battle of the Bands, both to benefit charity projects chosen by the students.  Before Thanksgiving every year, the school partnered with the local food bank, and homerooms raced against each other to win the top prize for bringing in the most cans. One year, our school brought in more than 12,000 cans, and the students learned first hand about the great things that can happen when school and the community work together. Our school also worked with the local food bank for a Santa's Stocking Project, in which home rooms "adopted" a needy child and became that child's Santa Claus for Christmas.  At our school, student council committees held special "teacher appreciation" luncheons and after school events. The memories of some of these touching events still live within me, as they validated all I tried to be as a teacher.

You see, our students respected us as teachers, and the teachers also respected the students.  The staff leaders took turns thinking of ways to improve the school itself,  the student body as a team, or the staff and students as a team, and the ideas were supported by the staff, administration, and school as a whole.  It was an almost perfect environment, as I look back.  No petty jealousies, no back biting, just a group of dedicated teachers who wanted their school to be the best it could be, and to teach the lessons of teamwork and goal setting along with the joy of giving to charity. I have had the opportunity to see many of my former students through the years, and they, too, look back fondly on their time at North Allegheny Intermediate, a school that promoted respect, caring, and sharing.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions

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