Humor and practical jokes are also a part of how we deal with each other. When our new Assistant Principal, Moena Perry, missed a message that was written on a stickie note by PE teacher Wes Timmons, he decided to poll every member of the school and have each of them tell him something they "needed!" He wrote every need on a stickie note. When Moena walked into her office, she found her office papered with stickie notes! You'd have to read each of the "needs" to thoroughly enjoy the humor.
Being thankful is a Chets Creek tradition that we model for our children often. For instance, Resource teachers (PE, Music, Art, Media, Science, Character Education) are a part of so many of the incredible things that we are able to do. They take the children of a grade level for an entire day every Wednesday so that a grade level of teachers can Work on the Work (WOW days). For each grade level they also spend a day running Centers around a grade level theme. In Kindergarten that themed day is Pow Wow. After the Kinder teachers spend their time making costumes and presenting a live performance, its the Resource teachers who take over the rest of the day to provide appropriate theme-related activities. To say thank you, Kindergarten teachers prepared lunch for the Resource Team this week and invited the children to write thanks you notes during Writers' Workshop. They wanted these very special teachers to know that they are so-o-o-o appreciated.
Appreciation is also expressed to volunteers this time of year. JB is one of those very special volunteers. He hasn't had a child at Chets Creek for years but he continues to hang out, being our go-to-guy for everything. He was the architect for our life-sized tepee! We sometimes forget that he's not part of the paid faculty! One of his holiday gifts to the school is to put up our giant holiday tree in the Lobby. It's one of those older designs where you have to put each branch into the center individually and it takes him an entire day to get it just perfect! Then he spends another day up on a ladder hanging the ornaments that represent every single child in the school. As a way to thank him for years or service, each class brought him something special when they brought their ornaments to hang this year. Some gave the gift of a song or poem and some gave a more monetary gift and some even brought his favorite, Almond Joys! By the end of the day he was decked in a special tee-shirt, a banner reading JB Day '07! and a crown! In typical JB style, he serenaded each class with a holiday song. We officially declared it "All About JB Day."
All of this is to say that in large, high performing schools, it really does take a village and much of the academic achievement has at its base - relationships. No matter how much we care about good test scores, education is about so much more than that. The culture at our school is to educate the whole child by showing them by example how to care about each other, to celebrate with a sense of humor, to always remember to appreciate all that we have, and to say thank you often.