"Today is Your Day to Make a Difference"
Each spring and summer, superintendents across the state prepare for the new school year by putting plans in place that they hope will inspire staff and provide students with meaningful learning experiences. When the students return in September, classrooms spring to life, but somehow, with a blink of an eye, we find ourselves flipping the calendar to June. The speed with which the school year passes seems to accelerate each year and, as a result, the plans for the year can quickly go from well-intentioned to unaccomplished. Over the last two years, Hamilton Township School District (HTSD) has made an effort to fight the clock by creating an annual district theme that provides focus, engages the school community, and is the guiding force behind our actions.
In 2017-2018, HTSD’s theme was “The Future is Ours to Build Together,” which directly connected with the district’s referendum vote and our efforts to prepare students for the future. This year’s theme is “Today is Your Day to Make a Difference,” which ties in to our focus on kindness, social-emotional learning, and restorative practices. This theme was artfully woven into our keynote speaker's convocation speech, has provided focus for our professional development offerings, and is prominently displayed on our website, letterhead, and social media posts.
It's important for the school community to recognize that the theme is much more than just words. For the theme to truly take hold, we need to recognize those who are making a difference each day. This summer we recognized support staff members for their efforts in getting our schools ready for a new school year with pictures posted on social media of their efforts and the hashtag #DifferenceMakerHTSD. This fall, we have begun recognizing difference makers by sending a thank you letter that includes a sticker that says, “I am a #DifferenceMakerHTSD.” The sticker is starting to pop up on laptop lids, district ID badges, and in classrooms! To bring the process full circle, students, faculty, and staff members who receive a sticker are asked to pay it forward by identifying another difference maker, who will then receive a letter and a sticker!
The school year goes by fast; it’s easy to get side-tracked and lose sight of the vision you had for your stakeholders. Creating and using a district wide theme can help to keep the school year on track and in focus. For HTSD, having a yearly theme is making a difference.