Why Do Words of Affirmation Mean so Much to Me as a Principal?

I read a blog post last week where the blogger said it was a form of therapy for her to write her blog.  This might be a little bit of that for me.

I also know that sometimes we ask questions there are no answers for.  That might be the case for me here.  

I know that flushing things out in the writing process can add clarity to thinking.  Maybe that will come by the time I get to the end of this piece.

Today was Boss’s Day.  Our staff knows me very well.  I found outside my office IMG_6247.jpgdoor a great surprise of vitamin water, a convenience store gift card, and protein bars.  Those are some of my favorite things.  There was also a pile of cards with all types of comments, thoughts, appreciation, gratitude, and words of affirmation.  When I started to read their words and cry as I normally do (must admit I like a good cry), I looked around and noticed something.  I have saved all the notes from this same day last year.  I have cards saved on top of my shelf from as long as 4 years ago spanning a couple of different school districts.  It dawned on me that I read those things, frequently, almost daily.  Come to think of it, I have an email folder titled “happy” where I’ve saved emails that I go back and read occasionally.  They make me smile due to past moments of pride or joy.  Do I have a problem?  Or have I just uncovered something in these moments of reflection?

I started to think about offices or workspaces of others I know.  They don’t always have those things hanging around.  Why do I seem to NEED them when others don’t?  I’ve IMG_6245.jpgnever seen myself as lacking in self-esteem or confidence so I truly don’t think that is the reason.  In other aspects of my life, that outward showing of appreciation doesn’t seem as necessary as it does at school.  To go even further, it didn’t seem as impactful to me in my role as a teacher as it does now as a principal.

It’s an odd reflection to have on Boss’s Day (I prefer Leader’s Day).  I don’t think it makes me better or worse in my role than anyone else.  Maybe just different.  How different?  I’m not sure.  I certainly need to do some more thinking on why those words of affirmation have such a big impact on me.  But I must admit, those words brought a lot of smiles to my face today!



It’s Just a T-Shirt


We recently ordered over 800 “Jamestown Pride” shirts for our staff and students.  Big deal, right?  Lots of schools order shirts.  What makes these shirts so special?  Well, let me use these shirts to illustrate a little about what really happens in a school that most people will never see.

Many of us in the public school system have used the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child.”  There are so many things that happen behind the scenes to make a school successful.  Many people work daily to positively impact the lives of students.  They don’t do it for any credit or recognition, but because it’s the type of people they are.  I often think articles of clothing have a story behind them.  Here is the story behind these t-shirts, which I really think, is a story about all the people impacting our school system.

Chapter 1 – Shirts cost money.  In our case, the money comes from a PTA fundraiser.  The beginning of the “Jamestown Pride” shirts actually started during the 2017 walkathon when we raised over $25,000.  Those funds are only successfully raised when there is a partnership and trust between the school, PTA, and parents.  When those pieces exist, like they do here at Jamestown, we can run one big fundraiser a year.  Building that trust takes great PTA volunteers who really develop a shared vision collaboratively with the school.  It also takes a community that holds public education in high regard and parents that show commitment to our school district over and over.

Chapter 2 – Once that money is raised, school starts and the steps towards getting the shirts to kids by the first Friday in October begins.  Our students returning from our student leadership team are in charge of coming up with the design.  Those student leaders collaborate to develop a design that epitomizes who we are as a school.  That process took a few meetings, students doing work outside of school, and sacrificing recess time.  Once the design was ready to be reviewed, members of the PTA, our two administrative assistants, and the administrative team gave the final input and send the artwork to the company.  Our partnership with that local business employee and how he understands the needs of our school is an important step in making the turnaround time happen.

Chapter 3 – The next task is getting sizes for the over 800 students and staff members of Jamestown.  Our two administrative assistants started the first week of school, creating google docs and communicating with parents.  They talk with kids, email and call parents and check-in with teachers.  They take pride in getting every single size right, for every single person.  Teachers jump right in to make sure to help with sizes that we don’t get right away. 

Chapter 4The shirt order is finally turned in and a few weeks later they arrive back at school.  Once they are here, a large sorting party must occur to make sure the 800 shirts are delivered to staff and students between our two schools.  Teachers, paraprofessionals, PTA members, and other staff members volunteer their time to make sure shirts are sorted and delivered.

Chapter 5 – On Friday, those 800 bright yellow shirts will be on full display.  There will be school spirit, colors, and community pride flowing everywhere.  Everyone will notice the shirts, some might even comment on them, but many of us will know all the people in our school system that work together to make these shirts a reality

PTA volunteers, our community, parents, student leaders, local business employees, administrative assistants, teachers, and paraprofessionals.  This example is about a simple t-shirt, nothing life altering.  But in every school building, on every school day, examples like this take place.  The next time you see some of those people, thank them for all they do for kids.  So many people are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of young people, which is just another reason that this is truly the greatest profession in the world.