Monday, December 22, 2014

The 16th Friday: Our Holiday Presents? Our Presence!

 “…When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so sad.”

Rodgers & Hammerstein

The catchy tune, “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music at times garners attention as a holiday song. At this time of year, it is indeed appropriate that we focus on all the “favorite things” in our own lives. Among my most favorite things are working with outstanding educators across our school district and visiting our classrooms to observe these amazing educators teaching and learning alongside equally-amazing young students. Truly, when I am “feeling sad,” all I need do is visit any classroom in the district to be immediately uplifted and—voila!—then I “don’t feel so bad.”

Educators in our district--and around the world--have this same impact upon the students with whom they interact. Many students are at their happiest when they are in your classrooms. You affect them in this way not only by teaching important content, but also by teaching them who you are through your stories, your actions, your unspoken attention, your laughter. Master teachers are passionate about the content they teach, but even more passionate about the students to whom they are gearing their instruction. I thank you for all you have done in service to your students this school year and wish each of you the happiest and healthiest of holidays. May you spend time with your families and friends in joyful mirth. 

In our district, one small way we thank our amazing staff members is through the "Holiday Presence" idea we started last year. In short, it works like this: the 21 administrators in our district each select a name of a staff member at random whose job they will then cover for a day in the new year, giving the winning staff member a day off as a small token of appreciation for the good work they do day in, day out. Several folks in my PLN asked about this when we posted photos of administrators drawing names last week, so I am including below an email I sent to staff explaining the process for those interested in replicating this in their own school or district. Although our administrative presence on these days is always a great deal of fun, what I really admire about the administrators in our district is that they are present in classrooms on a regular basis. In some schools/districts, this is the exception, not the norm; I am proud to say it is the norm in our district. Our administrators spend a great deal of time where their presence is most meaningful: classrooms. As for me, I am looking forward to spending more time in classrooms in 2015....and, thanks to our Holiday Presence program, I will be spending one full day teaching PE for one of our fantastic teachers!

Wherever you serve as an educator, thank you for caring, thank you for persevering through difficult and stressful times. Thank you for making time to intentionally celebrate your successes and each other. God Bless Us Everyone!



"Holiday Presence" Idea:

Seasons Greetings! Can Brian Bullis (@bbbullis) actually teach 1st grade all day without pulling out what little hair he has remaining? Is it even safe for him to do so? Can Jenell Mroz (@MrozjMroz) possibly do the Herculean  tasks of a school nurse for a day without blowing her top? Can Eileen Brett (@EileenBrett) conceivably teach at the middle school level? Can Dr. Lubelfeld (@mikelubelfeld) do anything without endangering everyone/everything in his immediate proximity??! We shall soon find out!

As a fun way to honor our staff this holiday season, the DPS 109 admin team would like to once again invite everyone to participate in a chance to win a day off--with one of us covering your class or job station for one day next semester. We have 21 administrators who will take your place for one day anytime between January and the end of the school year. Winning staff members will work with the winning (?) administrator to find a mutually-agreeable date for the administrator to take over for him/her as a small token of our appreciation for the jobs that each of our district team members does every day of the year.

Here is how it will work:

Starting tomorrow, we will be placing 21 bags at each campus with the name of one of our 21 building or central office administrators on each. These will likely be stapled on a bulletin board wall in  a staff lounge or some such set up, much like last year. For the next week--if you want to be considered for a chance at winning a day off--place a slip of paper with your name, school, and job title into as many bags as you like. You may well want to put a slip of paper into all 21 bags to increase your odds of winning, but if you would not be comfortable with, say, an incompetent knucklehead like Jeff Zoul covering your class, you can certainly choose to place your name only in the bags of those who you are confident could sub for you effectively. Although you may place 1 slip in each of the 21 bags, please place no more than 1 slip in any one bag.

Then, on On Wednesday, December 17 at noon, all bags will be collected from all schools and brought back to the district center where we will combine the slips of paper from each school for each administrator into 21 total bags with the names of staff across the district who put their name into the mix to win.

Each of the 21 administrators will draw the name of one lucky winner out of their respective bag. The name each of us pulls will be the person whose classroom or other position we cover (secretary, TA, classroom teacher, etc.) for 1 day sometime next semester.

We will work with the winning staff member to schedule the day anytime between January and the end of the school year.

So, in total, 21 staff members will receive a free day's coverage from one of us as a fun Holiday gift!


  • It may well be that you will have someone covering for you from another building (e.g., Rachel Aspinall @aspinall_rachel may teach a 1st grade class at Wilmot one day if she pulls that name).
  • You should only place your name one time in as many of the 21 bags as you choose.
  • We cannot be responsible for what happens wherever Dr. Lubelfeld finds himself "working."
  • We will notify everyone of the 21 winners next Thursday!
Thanks so much; please let me know if you have any questions. We really are grateful for the work that each of you does and hope this small, fun token of our appreciation reflects that gratitude during the holiday season and beyond. Cheers!

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