The School Board’s Role
“Most school board members are genuine advocates for employees, but it is not uncommon for school boards to be perceived by employees as being aloof and disinterested in the plight of individual school employees. The Utrust Employee Appreciation Program provides an excellent opportunity for the board to drastically improve its image with employees.” Dan Tollett, Utrust Administrator.
The plan outlined below requires relatively little effort on the part of the school board or its members but if accompanied with a high level of interest and support will pay great dividends.
1. Adopt a resolution establishing the program in the school district.
The board can take ownership of the Utrust Appreciation Program in the school district by adopting the resolution provided by Utrust after personalizing it to establish the program in the school district.
The resolution encourages but does not require all schools in the district to participate in the program. It also encourages community members to join in the effort to recognize and express appreciation to school employees.
2. Individually participate in appreciation days.
Each board member should make a special effort to visit a school or schools on each of the eight appreciation days. During visit, personally thank individuals in the group being honored and if possible, present a signed copy of the Resolution to each honoree. It is important to staff members being honored to know that the board member is there for that singular purpose. And, while the board member is entitled to speak only for himself or herself, it would be appropriate to let them know that the other members of the board join in appreciating the work and the effort that the employees make to help the school be a great place for children to grow and learn.
Board members unable to visit the school on an appreciation day, might ask another board member to visit the schools in your district and express appreciation on your behalf. Also, consider sending a thank you note to add a touch of class even after visiting to express appreciation in person. The note is made more special if it mentions specific things that the individual employee has done rather than just generally saying thanks.
3. Hear a report following each appreciation day.
At the meeting following each appreciation day, the board should have an agenda item for a brief report from the system coordinator or the superintendent on the activities of the appreciation day in the school district. That report is even better if it includes photos and videos from various schools in the school district. By scheduling this report on the agenda, the board demonstrates an interest in the group being honored. It adds to the importance of the celebrations in the schools and further honors the group of school employees being recognized.
Following the presentation, brief comments by school board members about individuals in the group being honored or the group itself are very likely to be quoted in the news media and will be cherished by members of the group.
Board recognition is very important to school employees. The three activities suggested above will not take a great deal of time on the part of the board or individual board members. However, these activities will enhance school employee’s opinions of the board and its members. Added to the other activities celebrated on the appreciation day, it will be a significant morale booster. The Utrust Appreciation Program is built on the notion that everyone should do a little so that no one will have to do a lot to make the appreciation days successful. When the board does its part, it makes a tremendous difference.