This month’s National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month is Elizabeth Folkins from Kennebecasis Valley High School in Quispamsis, New Brunswick, in Canada. Nominator Melissa Wright describes how Elizabeth goes above and beyond her job duties to make their Renaissance team successful (lightly edited):
“Elizabeth works tirelessly at our school for our Renaissance program. She came on board when I started Renaissance the second year in and has been part of the team ever since (we just completed our 13th year of Renaissance). She is an Educational Assistant at our school, and in NB it is very rare to have an EA involved in extra curricular activities. She is willing to do anything for the group and school; from running errands to make sure we have all the supplies we need, to putting on announcements, staying after school to prepare stuff for events and paying out of her own pocket to attend conferences like the Jostens Renaissance National Conference (as EAs in NB do not have access to grant money for conferences), her dedication is unparalled. She also ran the Renaissance group while I was out on maternity leave two different years (2011 and 2014) and didn’t even think twice about doing it. She does all this and more, without expecting any thanks in return. She is a wonderful example of a leader for our students and staff, and has actually gone back to university part time while working, to get her degree in leadership in interdisciplinary studies. It is dedicated individuals such as Elizabeth that help make Renaissance in our school possible. I couldn’t imagine a better person to have beside me in our Renaissance journey!”
What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?
There are so many great things that impact our students! We have a celebration called Crusader Champion that recognizes students for improvements in academics, behaviour or attendance. These students are presented with a certificate, prizes and lunch, but more importantly they leave knowing that someone has noticed them and recognizes their improvement. We have heard from students and parents that it has had a positive impact on them.
How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?
Renaissance has made our school a positive place to work and learn. We reinforce the behaviour we want to see by celebrating it. There are Crusader Coupons given to students when they demonstrate caring, kindness, or character then there names are put in a draw for prizes at our monthly assemblies. We try to celebrate students’ successes, both inside and outside of school, as much as possible.
How has Renaissance affected you personally?
Renaissance has taught me to purposefully pursue positivity. I actively look for opportunities to engage students in a positive way and this has helped me make good connections with them. Our Renaissance team has taught me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things and they challenge me to be a better person. I love to see their growth through four years of high school, and keep up with them after they leave. Melissa Wright, the other Renaissance advisor, has helped me grow as a person by encouraging me to continue my studies, and accept opportunities that arise. I would not be able to be as successful with Renaissance if it weren’t for her!
Also, attending the Jostens Renaissance National Conference has been transformative! I always learn so much when I go and I am a better educator because of it.
What advice would you give to someone just starting with Renaissance?
Just do it! Start with the things you know you can implement well, but don’t try to do too much all at once. Surround yourself with a good team, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There will be people who will try to drag you down; ignore them. If at all possible take your administrator to JRNC and watch how quickly things change!
Elizabeth 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.