Elementary Renaissance is Key to a Successful District Program: A Way to Create Leaders at a Young Age

By Rhett Ladner

As we endure this dark, cold winter, where everything is brown and dead, it reminds me of schools without Renaissance. The schools where the only focus is on test scores, facilities, curriculum, pacing guides, and accountability ratings. These things are vital to schools’ success, just as winter is important our world. We all know that growth takes place in the spring when the sun shines bright and blankets the land with its warmth and energy. Plants that laid dormant for the winter are reborn and the vegetation comes alive. Jostens Renaissance brings this same growth to our schools with a rebirth, excitement, positive energy, and a hope for a better world.

Renaissance helps us to look at our schools and classrooms as flower gardens, and each student as a unique flower that matters and deserves individual cultivation for their specific needs. With this customized care, they can grow to their maximum potential. This is done through the 6R’s of Renaissance – Reward, Recognition, Respect, Relationships, and Reinforcement which causes the Results to make people, schools, and our world better.

Here are a few gardening tips to help you grow your garden:

Staffulty of the Month

Place a decorated box in your cafeteria with ballots. Make sure you include name of the Staffulty member, student nominating the Staffulty member, and why they are being nominated. Then at the end of the month choose however many you would like to recognize for that month. Announce the winners over the intercom, including who nominated him/her and the reason why he/she was nominated. Place the ballots of those not selected in the recipients’ boxes so they can receive special notes and know they are appreciated. Next, decorate a table in the cafeteria and serve lunch to the Staffulty member and the student so everyone can honor them.

Rolling Surprise Cart

Decorate a rolling cart that you can use to deliver food or gifts to Staffulty classrooms. Make sure students are present because you want to honor the Staffulty members in front of students. (In most schools, we do this in Staffulty lounges and students never know how much our Staffulty matters.) Examples include:

  • “Surpies”- Apple Pie and Ice Cream
  • “Thanks for Keeping us A-Float” – Root Beer Floats
  • “You Make School Easy Like Sundae Morning” – Hot Fudge Sundaes
  • “Warm Up” – Hot Chocolate & Apple Cider

Bulldog Bash

A celebration event honoring students that are on honor roll, have no office referrals, and show GPA growth. Make it a big deal – use blowup slides, create a movie theater with popcorn, organize field day games, etc.

Senior Wishes

Every senior makes a wish at the start of the year with a $5 limit but can also be non-monetary. Wishes are granted randomly throughout the year and the senior must be present. If they are absent, they miss their wish and it isn’t redone (encouraging attendance). The Disney music “Wishes” is played over the intercom and the wish is read over the intercom so the entire school knows what wish is being granted, and to whom. When the music stops our Wish Fairies (dressed up with wings and wands) grant the wish. Examples could include food items, Starbucks Coffee, student named Queen for a Day, Instagram handle put on marquis in front of school, principal singing in front of the school, fundraiser for a cancer patient. Options are endless.

Hand Painting

Incoming youngest students paint their hand prints on walls in hallways to symbolize becoming part of our school. Have seniors cut class year numbers from 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood, then paint them a solid school color and have seniors add hand prints on them in the other school color, allowing them to write their names under or on their hand print. Put supporting legs on the numbers and use them at graduation for students to walk between as they enter graduation ceremony. Hang them up in school and after 5 years present them to the class for their 5th year reunion.

Different Color Graduation Gown

At the start of the year have seniors sign a white gown (or non-traditional color of the typical graduation gown). At the senior awards at the end of the school year, have Staffulty members choose one senior that has overcome the most adversity to graduate and present it to this senior. Allow them to wear the special gown at graduation and recognize them during the graduation ceremony and in the graduation program.

The Results that schools yearn for can only truly be found when Staffulty and students are nurtured.

The ideas above are only a few cultivating things to bring life to your garden. But it is vital to Reward, Recognize, Respect, and Reinforce Staffulty members and students, if you are wanting the Results and beauty desired. Jostens Renaissance offers us a gardening guide for the educational setting. Alexander Den Heijer says “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” If we use the resources from Jostens and the other Renaissance schools, we can create a more beautiful world. Every garden needs a passionate gardener, so turn your school into a greenhouse where individuals flourish year round and grow, baby, grow!

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