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Forest Hills PTO celebrates Staff Appreciation Week while remaining socially distant

Katie Hall, age 9, and Karleigh Hall, age 6, were on the lead car for the Staff Appreciation parade at Forest Hills Elementary. The girls were excited to see so many familiar faces as they drove past the school employees that had gathered for the parade. Photo by Christie Slocum

The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has been setting the bar high at Forest Hills Elementary for several years but 2020 stands to be a year that will be hard to beat. Under the direction of Casey Hall, the PTO did not let COVID-19 or the lack of students in the building stop them from celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week this past week. They decided to celebrate virtually.
A flyer was passed around to the parents of Forest Hills via Facebook that gave them instructions on how to celebrate their teachers. Monday was “Thank Your Amazing Teacher”. Parents were instructed to send a caring email with everything you have been up to. They were asked to let their teacher know how much they were missed. Tuesday was “Thank Our Amazing Administrators”. Once again, parents were asked to send an email but this time to the administrators. They were asked to show appreciation for these folks that do such an amazing job keeping the school running smoothly. Wednesday’s theme was very similar but they wanted to “Thank Your Amazing Support Staff”, a group that is often overlooked. This group includes janitors, lunch workers, reading aids, counselors, learning coaches, special area teachers and office staff. Thursday was a fun day where families were asked to travel to the school’s campus to show their appreciation. PTO provided sidewalk chalk for families to come and participate in “A Kind Word is Never Wasted”. Between the hours of 9 am and 12 noon, folks could come and color the sidewalks around the school with beautiful pictures and words of thanks and appreciation so long as they all stayed six feet apart for others that were there at the same time. Beautiful and inspiring chalk messages were left by many, some even calling out their teacher and many expressing how much they were missed. Friday, the group organized a parade that traveled around the bus loop as the staff lined the sidewalk so they could see so many of the small faces they have been missing so much. The festive parade began at 1 pm. Students made colorful signs that they waved from sunroofs and hung from the passenger side of their parent’s vehicles. One golf cart entry even threw candy to the excited staff as they cheered for their favorite students passing by. Since turning to distance learning, this is the first time many of those that participated have seen each other since March 13, 2020. For some, it may be the last time they see each other although the school will still have a day for students to pick up their belongings and times to drop off completed work packets.
According to Hall, the parade was a hit and she feels like they had an amazing turnout. School staff was also left a little surprise as a $25 gift certificate was given to each with a list of local businesses in which they could spend it. A PTO allows parents and teachers to work together to supplement and enrich the educational experience. And with today’s tight budgets, a strong, well-functioning PTO can be a teacher’s most important ally when it comes to achieving curricular and fundraising goals. “I love being a part of PTO. For me, it’s been an eye-opener. As a parent, you don’t always get to see what goes on within the walls of the school. I know I didn’t. Typically, you form a relationship with your student’s teacher, and maybe a few other staff members but you don’t get to see the love and caring that goes into running the entire school. We get to see that. We see the smiles on the cafeteria staff’s faces as they greet our students coming through the line. We see the pride the custodial staff takes in keeping our school clean and well maintained. We get to witness the strides our administrators are making, and the compassion they have, even for some of the most troubled students. Our school is full of talented teachers and staff members! I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people at FHE. So for me, it’s important to know that my children are learning, and are well cared for when they are at school”, said Hall. If you are a parent and have not had a chance to get involved in your child’s PTO, take a minute to check it out. Studies show children that have involved parents will be more successful than those that don’t. Parent involvement plays a major role in how well your child and your child’s school will succeed.

Christie Slocum (595 Posts)