The main building block of school culture is relationships. And one of those relationships that is important is the relationship between the students involved in Leadership and Student Council and the staff of the school they serve. One way many schools build that relationship is by capitalizing on special occasions like holidays or exams to share physical tokens of appreciation with staff, like Candy Hearts, or Smarties, or U Rocks. Many staff need relationships built between them as well.
At Waterloo-Oxford DSS another way we have found to expand on the notion of staff appreciation and allow our students to interact with staff and their families is through our annual Fam Jam – Staff Appreciation Family Fun Night. Every year in late April we invite our staff, and their entire families, to a family fun night at the school featuring free food, fun, and interactive activities and games led by our leadership students.
After all staff are invited and have RSVP’d weeks ahead of the evening, we have name tags and loot bags (like at a birthday party) ready for all our guests. After signing in, families can play one of the guessing games and kids can get their face painted prior to pizza supper in the cafeteria. The last number of years we have done a common activity in the cafeteria (like a local reptile show, petting zoo, birds of prey etc.) This gives all the staff, their kids, and our students a chance to interact and have fun together.
This is followed by 45 minutes of open house style elective games throughout the school. Making crafts, karaoke, Dance Dance Revolution, video games, open gym, and guided gym games are all popular at this time. Once again, all these different stations in different locations are staffed by students. There is nothing like playing with a staff member’s child to cement a positive relationship between staff and students!
The evening is a great way to show appreciation for staff for all the ways they help make our school special – and it also lets our staff understand that our leadership students are learning about servant leadership and care about them as well.