Being an elementary principal is a great job! No matter how bad the day was, all I had to do was walk out of my office and I would get more hugs than I could count!
One of the things that was most important to me was to learn the students' names. I really worked hard on that. And the kids loved it.
We had several positive programs, but the one that meant the most to me was Top Cats (thank you Connie Honaker for helping with the name). Every Friday, a student from every class was the Top Cat for the following week. We called their names over the intercom and each student came up and got a Top Cat prize, a fast food coupon and their picture taken. We had a Top Cat bulletin board in the office that Dee Mendias was in charge of and she made sure it always looked great. Every Monday she would get the pictures and put them up with the kids names. They kids (and parents) loved having their pictures on the bulletin board.
Then on Monday I had lunch with the Top Cats at a special table in the cafeteria. They got their lunches and I was able to give them a treat. For many years it was three red vines and then we had rules about what we could give kids so I had to change to something "healthy." The greatest part of this was that every student was a Top Cat so I got to eat lunch with every child. This is one of the ways I learned their names (and a whole lot of other things)!!! Monday lunch was a sacred time for me!
We also did birthday balloons with a picture of our mascot, a tiger cub, on them. Every day we announced whose birthday it was and the kids came up for their birthday balloons. We made sure to get all of the summer birthdays in, as well as holidays, vacations, and weekends. Many times parents would come to school to take a child's picture getting the balloon from me
We also had "Tigerrifics" which were given to kids caught doing positive actions. They kids would bring them to the office and put them in a special box and then each day I would pull one from the box and announce the student's name and his/her positive action. They would come to the office and get a "Tigerrific" prize.
I have always felt that building relationships is the single most important thing that you can do for children in order for them to learn. And these were things that helped build those relationships. I am proud to say that I am still in contact with many of these former students and families to this day!!!