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 4 – The 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.