“In a school with a culture of recognition and appreciation both students and staff do more than is expected; courtesy is common and relationships are warmer and friendlier. Appreciation is not an option, it is essential.” Dr. Dan Tollett, Utrust Administrator
The Utrust Appreciation Program (UAP) has proven to be a great asset for participating schools and school districts. The goal of the program is to create an attitude of gratitude within the school and to change the culture of the school into one defined by intentional and sincere appreciation. Participating in the program improves attendance, morale, performance and relationships for both students and staff.
The Utrust Appreciation Program can be tremendously effective and fun for the entire school but its success depends upon the degree of support provided by the principal. It is student-led but it’s built on the notion that everyone does a little so no one does a lot. .
To start an employee appreciation program in a school, the principal should:
1.Appoint a School Coordinator. The School Coordinator will work with the A-Team Advisers to help plan out the celebrations for the appreciation days. The person must be organized, able to enlist support and delegate responsibility. Ideally, a guidance counselor, assistant principal, librarian or related arts teacher serves in the position. However, some of the best coordinators in the state are classroom teachers or even strong support staff members who particularly want to do the job. When the school coordinator has help from a G-Force Adviser and three A-Team Advisers (described below) the job requires less than one hour per week.
2. Appoint A-Team Advisers. With the help of the school coordinator, select three advisers for the A-Team, one each for the Action, Creative and Paparazzi Crews.
3. Appoint a G-Force Adviser. The G-Force Adviser is the champion of the G-Force. This person makes certain that G-Force members understand and accept their responsibilities and encourages them from time to time as they carry out these responsibilities. The G-Force Adviser also shares targeted assignments or missions with the G-Force members (Utrust provides a chart which can be completed once each year to make these assignments).
4. Build Staff Support. At a meeting to the entire staff, share about participation in the appreciation program and the emphasis on building a culture of appreciation. Request their cooperation and support.
5. Build Student Support. Hold a student assembly at the beginning of the year to encourage students to have pride in the school’s identity and culture of appreciation. Explain the Utrust Appreciation Program and seek their cooperation and support. Encourage students to like and follow the school’s social media pages.
6. Ask Each Homeroom Teacher to Appoint Two G-Force Members. Each homeroom is represented on the G-Force by two students selected by the homeroom teacher. Click here for a sample memo for the principal to send to ask teachers to appoint G-Force member.
7. Ask Teachers to Thank a Student each week. (TAPPS-Teachers APPeciating Students) In a faculty meeting, encourage teachers to select a student each week to express appreciation to for something specific they have done. Encourage them to include students who are making progress toward behavioral as well as academic goals, not just the best students.
8. Actively Support the Program. A school’s appreciation program will only be successful with the principal’s strong and active support. Active support means that the principal:
- Encourages participation by all faculty, staff, students and student organizations.
- Participates in recognition ceremonies whenever possible.
- Makes positive comments about the program and expresses appreciation for all who participate in appreciation day activities.
- Allows students to make the Utrust produced announcements about each appreciation day over the school intercom.
- Encourages every student and staff member to support and participate in the program to honor and recognize the work of others.
- Periodically recognize A-Team or G-Force members during announcements and comment on appreciation days to increase interest and generate support.
The Utrust website contains information about the various roles in the Utrust model, including the School Coordinator, G-Force Adviser, G-Force, A-Team and A-Team advisers. These guides help staff and students in leading the school to have a successful appreciation program.