Since today is Labor Day is this week, many of you may not check this until Tuesday.  If so, make time for this activity as soon as you can this week – or perhaps schedule it for this coming weekend.  In the meantime, make it your “Labor Day Activity” from here on out.

We celebrate Labor Day as a time to be thankful that our hands have work to do, and appreciate the work that others do for us.  It’s a good time to say “thank you,” and beat the Thanksgiving rush.  There are two groups of thank you notes or letters that you MUST write (you can always add others if you like).

The first group to be acknowledged is your teachers.  Thank them for the commitment they’ve made this year, and encourage them as they begin to help form a new group of students.  These students may have had some history together and could be starting to “gel” as a group.  Of course, some children may have left, and others may have entered, but especially in a faith-based school, many times it’s the teacher that may feel like an outsider if most of the children have been together through the years, and especially if the teacher is a first year teacher in your school.  This is one of the ways the start of the school year in a faith-based school differs from a public school.  Public schools have the ability to rearrange homerooms so that only a few of the students from the previous school year can “hang with their peeps” from the previous year.  These first days of the new year can be a very difficult and intimidating experience for the faith-based school teacher, so your attention to their concerns now with reassurance and support can have great rewards.

The second group is the parents of the students in your school, which are equally-yoked in terms of the support provided by your teachers.  Parents, after all, are still the primary educators of their children (which is why there is so much divisive conversation in the public, private, and faith-based education spaces today, and why the changing formation of the family has a significant and systemic impact on education today).  Thank them for the sacrifices they’re making to send their children to your school.  Thank them for the confidence they’ve placed in you and your school to help them with their child’s education and formation.  Not only are they the primary educators of their children, but they are the customers of your school, and customers must always be thanked for their loyalty!  Thank them for the prayers they will offer for the school, since it is only with God’s blessings that the school’s mission becomes possible.  Thank them for the support they will offer their children in assisting them with their homework assignments, for the support they will offer to the school when you need a parent to provide healthy snacks for a birthday celebration, and for the good news they will offer to the community so that others can become engaged in the life of the school.

Both of these actions are essential to retention – of both your students and your teachers.  Thank them this month, so that when you ask parents to commit to sending their children to your school for the following school year next month (yes, in October!), they will have at least heard from you once or twice before you approach them with this request.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2006-2021 (Original publication date: 20060904)