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Jostens Renaissance Happy R

An hour of joyful virtual learning and discussion for Renaissance Educators. Each Happy R will include the following:

  • Practical tips from a successful program leader
  • Breakout conversations led by Renaissance Hall of Famers and Coaches
  • Q&A with experts

Upcoming Happy R’s

If you enjoy getting together virtually, imagine how much fun it would be to get together in person! See the Ren Team, many of our presenters, and fellow Happy R attendees LIVE at the Jostens Renaissance Global Conference! It all comes together July 17-20, 2022 in Orlando. Visit www.jostens.com/jrgc for details and registration.

The Happy R series will resume in Fall 2022.

Past Happy R’s

Sustaining Your Renaissance Program

When: April 11, 2022 – Click on the image below for an edited recording

Presenter: John Bush, Director of Schools, Alvin C. York Institute, Jamestown, TN

Breakout Moderators: Dr. Frank Rudnesky and James Adkins

Key Points:

  1. A sustainable program needs to be grounded in all the groups in the school, and ingrained in the culture as traditions everyone values. Connect the positive people across ages and roles, and their voices get louder.
  2. You can’t do it on your own. It’s a team philosophy, team activity, and team accomplishment. For the school community to believe it’s a lasting movement, they need to know the team will make things happen.
  3. Keep it fresh. Adults tend toward routines because it’s easier to run the plays than create new ones. Young people crave change and new ideas – ask them what they value, and change what you recognize and give as incentives every few years.
  4. Strive to create and continue meaningful traditions that reinforce values, not perpetuating habits just because they’ve been done before.
  5. Make sure your actions line up with your values. Give attention to things you want to see more of, and don’t give attention to negativity or those who don’t want to participate.
  6. Take care of your rock star educators. You need them to keep coming back.
  7. Empower your students to be a driving force for positivity. Put them in charge of planning and implementation.
  8. Get parents on board, because that outside push can clear roadblocks and make your efforts bigger and more far-reaching.
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Fundraising Ideas

When: March 7, 2022, 6:00-7:00 CST – Click on the image below for an edited recording

Presenter: Melissa Wright, Kennebecasis Valley High School, Quispamsis, NB (Canada)

Breakout Moderators: Holly Branch, Tom Nichols, Terri Vanderwijst, Dr. Steve Woolf

Key Advice:

  • Convince local businesses to donate candy/prizes/supplies by offering them meaningful recognition in return (i.e. their name on a shirt or poster, or invite them to an appreciation luncheon that includes a student-led tour of the school and the programs they support).
  • Make fundraisers a win-win-win – raise money, recognize people who aren’t often recognized, and involve everyone to build community.

A few favorite new fundraising ideas (click here for full presentation):

Popcorn Sales – Involve students in popping corn and selling it at lunch.

Coffee & Canvas – Bring in a local artist to lead a painting project and provide treats.

Kiss a Grad Goodbye – Have cards for students and staffulty to write notes to graduating seniors and deliver them with a candy kiss.

Used Book Sale – Collect use books and sell them at reasonable prices, and ask the district to promote as a literacy activity.

Flower Sales – Can do for theater productions, graduation, or special events.

Egg My Yard – Community members can order one of several packages where students come and hide filled eggs around their yard the night before Easter (so parents don’t have to do it).

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Recognition Ideas for Students & Staffulty – Part 2

When: February 7, 2022, 6:00-7:00 CST – Click on image below to play edited recording

Presenter: Dr. Farah Ortega-Choate, La Quinta Middle School STEM Academy, La Quinta, CA

Breakout moderators: John Bush, Dr. Tara Campbell, Samantha Grimes, Chris Reeder

RISE and recognize/reward the people on our campus – students, staffulty, and community members!

R = Regular (as often as possible)

I = Immediate (as soon as possible)

S = Specific (be specific and meaningful)

E = Encouraging (encouraging recognition among peers establishes the culture)

A few favorite new recognition ideas (click here for full presentation):


Very Important Parent or Most Valuable Parent – Post a photo and message celebrating the most involved volunteer on social media.

Alumni Recognition – Post pictures on the wall of alumni “on the job” in various professions.


FROG Award – Give a painted gold frog award For Recognition of Growth.

100 Feet of Nachos – Celebrate 100th day of school for freshmen with long rows of individually portioned nachos.


Hang In There – Hang positive/grateful messages on a coat hanger when someone needs an extra boost.

Time Out – Administrator covers a class before or after lunch one day, so the teacher can have a long lunch.

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Recognition Ideas for Students & Staffulty – Part 1

When: January 10, 2022, 6:00-7:00 CST

Presenter: DeWayne Patterson, Director of Activities, Bixby HS, OK

Breakout moderators: Mark Brown, Mendi Camacho, Julie Diaz, Tina Dietrich

A few favorite new recognition ideas:

I Heard Something Good – Create a Google doc that students and staffulty can access, and ask them to write a note when someone does something kind or helpful. (Moderate it frequently.) Once a week, the team in charge of school social media choose something from the list and share it as an example of good things happening in the school.

Two Truths and a Lie – For a staffulty meeting, pull two difficult discipline examples and make up a fake one, share them, and have staffulty guess which was the lie. This opens eyes to what administrators are dealing with each day.

Classroom Explosions – Once a month, choose a student or teacher who doesn’t typically get recognized, and bring a free lunch to everyone in the class and tell them why.

Spin the Wheel – Buy an inexpensive spinning carnival wheel and add no-cost/low-cost prizes to the sections, such as “front of the line pass” or “1-day extension.” When students meet some criteria or accomplishment, let them spin the wheel at a rally to get a prize.

Everyone Likes Treats – For staffulty, ask at the beginning of the year for their favorite beverage at a local restaurant, then each week deliver that drink to a portion of the team so everyone receives it once a quarter or semester, with a note like “We’re soda-lighted you’re part of our staffulty!” For leadership students, bring pastries with individual notes describing their strengths and “Donut know what we’d do without you!”

Rock, Paper, Scissors and Beads – Buy enough mardi gras beads for every student and staffulty member (they get nicer ones), plus some extras. Students play rock paper scissors and the winner of 2 of 3 games wins the other’s beads. When a student has 3 beads they can challenge a teacher, and winners get prizes or drawing entries. (Bonus: sell extra strands for 2/$1 to raise funds to cover the bead costs.)

7 Week Staff to Student Relationship Challenge from Steve Bollar: Every adult in the school focuses on one small, cost-free gesture to connect with students each week. Click here for details or click here for a training video on how to do it.

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Reflecting Your School’s Core Values to Your Community

When: November 8, 6-7:00 CST – Click on image below to play edited recording.

Presenter: John Jenson, Jostens School Branding Expert

A few key points:

  • A school should be the soul of a community.
  • The more intentional we are about our identity, the more respect we get from the outside world.
  • The identity has to be able to hit both the head and the heart of everyone who walks into school.
  • During the pandemic seems like the wrong time for doing hard work, but it’s actually the right time to define who you are, so you can live out your values as you return to “normal.”
  • Make it matter.

Link to web site: fundraising through kindness.

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Building Relationships in an Educational Setting

October 11, 6-7:00 CST – Click on image below to play edited recording.

Presenter: Terresa Amidei, Desert Ridge Academy. Renny Award Winner, Relationships Category

A few takeaway ideas:

Compliment Clothespins – Write affirmations on clothespins, such as “You matter,” “You are loved,” and “Have a good day.” Sneak them on students’ backpacks or teachers’ bags, then pass them along to someone else.

Thoughtful Thursdays – Have a wall for posting shout-outs and encourage student and staffulty participation.

Calming Kits – Fill a bucket with a 5-minute timer, ideas for activities, quiet fidget toys, paper, and pencils, and encourage students to take a break with it.

Positivity Train – Bring student leaders to walk through other rooms, offices, or custodial areas and give elbow bumps and positive greetings on the way out.

Family Thank You’s – Administrators call spouses/parents of teachers to compliment them and thank the family for supporting them.

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