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Education Opinion

Awards Day Plans

By Roslyn Johnson Smith, Ph.D. — April 09, 2008 2 min read

I’m going to have some fun before I call it quits for tonight. I am going to create the Awards Day form for our teachers to list the students being recognized for outstanding performances. The reviewers need it by tomorrow morning, so I am on a deadline. This blog will be shorter than usual.

Last week, while talking with the school’s principal, we discovered that we had different ideas about what an awards ceremony should look like for the school. At my former school, it was a big deal. We gave out trophies, ribbons, medallions, certificates, and pins. Students received awards for scholarship, behavior, citizenship, effort, and attendance. Teachers received awards; parents volunteers received trophies; business partners received recognition. The winners had their names listed in fancy programs and everyone dressed up for the ceremonies.

At the schools that my son and daughter attended, this never happened. Although they attended some of the most sought after schools, the awards were scant. Usually, they gave out chintzy homemade certificates or tiny trophies. It was a different type of environment. I guess the values were different.

Mr. Johnson’s plan was somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. As we talked, he said “I’ll let you do it your way, since this is our first time.” He told me that he understood that this was something special to me and he was not threatened or feeling micromanaged because I wanted to be involved with the schools awards. Actually, he has a committee to do the real work. I just get to name the awards and write up the criteria for them. I also get to shop for bargains at a couple of local trophy stores that have reopened since Katrina.

It is a real pleasure to work with this man. He shares ideas with me and the other Board members before we have a chance to ask. His willingness to ask us what we think makes him easy to work with. The frequency that we have similar ideas is amazing. He is always open-minded and focused on the big picture. He accepts criticism well and brings out the best in people. I am surprised and delighted at the teachers who are showing leadership and planning skills.

As I was preparing to leave the school today, he invited me to his faculty meeting to discuss the need for teachers to get involved in recruitment of students for next year. I politely declined the invitation. It was his meeting and I didn’t want anyone to think I want to do his job. However, I am happy to do some of the work—the fun stuff.

The opinions expressed in Starting Over: A Post-Katrina Education are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.