In the midst of all of the chaos and hubbub of high school, one very important group of motivators is often forgotten: the teachers and staff.
This year at Chamblee Charter High School, the Parent Teacher Student Association is aiming to change that. One such tactic, recently implemented, in order to accomplish this goal is the creation of Staff Birthday Bags, which are a way for students and parents to show their appreciation for a teacher or staff member by giving them a small birthday present.
“Birthday bags is kind of a reminder to the community as well as the staff that they’re still working hard for our children and that we never stop appreciating what they do,” said Lauren Oselette, PTSA member and chair of Staff Appreciation.
Oselette, who is also a CCHS parent, played a crucial role in organizing the staff birthday bags.
“I’d love to take credit for the idea, but I stole it from Kittredge [Magnet School for High Achievers],” said Oselette. “When my son was there, it was something that they were already doing, and I thought it was such a great idea.”
Here’s how it works: teachers and staff who wish to participate fill out a form which asks them to provide their birthday and some of their likes. Oselette then enters the staff member’s birthday into a SignUpGenius, where students and/or parents can sign up to bring a gift for any staff member they’d like. The link for the SignUpGenius is sent out in the school newsletter, the “Bulldog Bulletin,” every week.
Parents and students should then deliver gifts to the staff directly or leave the gift at the front desk.
“They have the entire birthday month to give the gift to the staff member, so they don’t need to stress out trying to get in on the exact date,” said Oselette.
So far, teachers have had an extremely positive reaction to this new idea. Social studies teacher Theresa Abernathy was pleasantly surprised upon receiving her gift from one of her students.
“I hadn’t usually gotten stuff from students for my birthday in the past,” said Abernathy. “My birthday is one of the first of the year, so no one really knows about it.”
Jennifer Tinnell, another social studies teacher, also has a birthday early in the year. She received a gift from junior Sophia Sparks.
“[She gave it to me] first thing in the morning, so it just started my day off perfectly,” said Tinnell. “Sophia was so sweet when she gave it to me.”
Tinnell’s gift consisted of a hand-written card, a Regal Cinemas gift card, a Halloween pumpkin decoration, and pumpkin spice candles.
“My students have loved the candles,” said Tinnell. “And I love Halloween decorations, so I can’t wait for the end of this month.”
Although staff birthday bags has been a success so far, Oselette hopes that more teachers and students will participate as the year goes on.
“We had a lot of people sign up, so that’s good, but there’s plenty of room for more,” said Oselette.
Another problem is that not every teacher has filled out a form, so their names are not on the SignUpGenius.
“I have about half the staff listed, so I wish more of them would participate,” said Oselette. “I’ve had parents ask me about certain people but I don’t have the birthdates so I can’t give it to them.”
Even though not every staff member is involved yet, the purpose of birthday bags remains the same and has proven to be an excellent way for students and parents to show their appreciation.
“If nothing else, I would hope it brightens a day,” said Oselette.