Harris Unveils Bulldog Bucks Program

Matthew Welsh, Staff writer

Cha-ching! Chamblee Charter High School staff members are eager to cash in their Bulldog Bucks through a new incentivised action program created by first-year Chamblee administrator Dr. Melisha Harris. Harris hopes to have sparked a school-wide movement of teacher appreciation that can continue for generations here at Chamblee.

“When I came here, I knew there were a lot of things that we wanted to change as far as making the climate very positive,” said Harris. “So we looked at different ways to incite and encourage our teachers and give them positive feedback on all of the wonderful things that they’re doing here.”

Everyone knows that teachers are the backbone of any functioning school, and that their efforts during lectures and lessons are what truly inspire students, but often their actions, however impactful, go unnoticed. Harris’ solution? Bulldog Bucks.

“We are just finding those teachers who are doing things exceptionally well, going above and beyond, being generous to others, and going the extra mile,” she said. “So whether it’s we catch them doing it, or by someone else telling us about something that a teacher is doing, then we want to make sure that we acknowledge that.”

But simply highlighting a teacher’s intentions is not the end of the road. That small slip of green paper is more of a cog in the grand scheme that helps jump-start the process of acknowledgement.

“What happens, is we [the administrators] will pass out a Bulldog Buck to them, and on it it has their name and what they did that we were so proud of. Once we give this to them, we put all the bucks into a collection and will draw names, and the winner will get to come down and collect one of the gifts from our basket full of treats,” said Harris, reaching across her desk for a stack of bundled bucks.

Sure, gift cards, lunch bags, and PopSockets may not be life-altering rewards, but through this initiative, teachers are at least aware that others are thinking of them. And the thought of even small compensation for their hard work can be a valuable token.

Administrative assistant Elizabeth Sanchez was the winner of the first drawing, and thinks the attention the bucks bring to the staff’s involved work could be beneficial down the road.

“I think it helps all of us because it motivates us to do good for others and become better people,” said Sanchez. “And I know that you can get a gift bag when you win, but some of the prizes can also be helpful, like getting to use a closer parking spot.”

Having presided over several schools in her career in education, Harris has always learned from and adapted to new environments, solving problems on the go. But she considers applying new methods and conveying successful elements from school to school as one of her strengths.

“Schools do different things to recognize teachers, and yes I have done something similar at another school, but the Bulldog Bucks are unique to Chamblee, and I want to be the cheerleader that spreads how positive things are at Chamblee,” Harris said.

Harris’ goal is that from this project, Chamblee will ultimately gain unity and revamp a lost sense of encouragement for one another. She knows this environment is one that Chamblee has built its foundation, and hopes to see it extend into the future for students and staff alike.

“At the end of the day, it’s just an opportunity to really bring our culture together and keep Chamblee constructive,” she said. “I would love to shed some positive light on the things that are being done well here.”