This month’s National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month is Debra Summers from Cane Bay High School in South Carolina. Debra has been a Renaissance coordinator for 12 years and was a Renaissance Coordinator of the Year in 2009. Debra shares her Renaissance story:

What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?
One of my most favorite Renaissance moments happened in 2006, the first year I was a Renaissance coordinator. After our very first academic rally, a special education teacher came to me in tears. She explained that in all of her years of teaching, none of her self-contained students had ever been recognized for anything positive at school; however, at the Jostens Renaissance rally all of her students were recognized. She excitedly watched as her students walked across the stage to the cheers of the student body where they received a high-five and a rally t-shirt from the administration team. Another favorite Renaissance moment is when I received the Coordinator of the Year award in 2009. To be honored by a room full of people who love what they do and love the profession of education is something I will always hold dear.

How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?
Renaissance has impacted our school culture by providing a supportive and welcoming environment for all students and staffulty. At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, we implemented “Fist Bump Fridays.” Every person – student or staffulty – entering our school is welcomed to school through one of our three entrances where they can join in on a dance party and receive fist bumps from our amazing Renaissance Student Ambassadors (RSAs). Cane Bay is the largest high school in our district and has a population of 2100+ students and 200+ staffulty. The job of our RSAs is to greet every single person by letting all who enter know we are glad they are on campus each and every day. Just recently one of my very quiet and shy students wrote in his journal that he “got fist bumped” as he walked into school. I asked him if he liked the fist bump and he said it made him feel good about coming to school. Yay! I cannot wait until next Friday.

How has Renaissance affected you personally?
Renaissance has affected me personally by being one of the most important aspects of my job. Being able to celebrate students and staffulty for the positive things that happen on our campus is rewarding. The Jostens Renaissance National Conference is THE only conference that recharges my battery and makes me want to go back into the classroom. Being surrounded by educators who actually love their job, their students, and their staffulty is amazing. The energy I bring home from the conference carries over not only into my classroom, but also the entire school community.

What advice would you give to someone just starting with Renaissance?
The most important advice I would give to someone starting a new Renaissance program is to remember that no two programs are alike. Start with a few ideas that are easily implemented and add additional ideas to your program each year. There is no right or wrong way to implement Renaissance. Each program is customized to work with the needs of your students and staffulty within your school community. What works at another school may not necessarily work at your school and that is absolutely okay. I would also encourage schools to visit the Idea Exchange and to attend the Jostens Renaissance National Conference as soon as possible!

Debra will receive a shirt and a lapel pin, and was entered into a drawing for free registration to this year’s Jostens Renaissance National Conference.

To nominate someone in your school for the National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month honor, click here.

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