One very important thing that I have learned as an educational leader is that all people (yes…ALL people) need to be celebrated and feel appreciated. I have not come across a single person in this field of education who feels like they are valued as they should be.

Teachers are overworked and underpaid. Students are overworked and feel anxious about everything. Parents are overworked and feel inadequate in many ways. Administrators are overworked and feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. So as an educational leader, how do we overcome all of these overwhelming feelings and emotions? I believe that we need to take a deep breath, reflect on what is working, and start to celebrate and appreciate like crazy.

We have all heard that people who feel appreciated will always do more than what is expected. This statement is true about all people, especially in the field of education. As educational leaders, we need to focus on celebrating teachers, students, parents, and all staff in order to create a culture of success and excellence. Shout-outs, recognitions, thank you notes, certificates, and other forms of recognition go a long way.

Some schools are fortunate enough to have funding to do more celebrations and tangible gifts, and that is very exciting for them; however, most schools are limited in their funds, so public recognition comes in other forms. No matter how you celebrate, the important thing is that you make people feel valued and appreciated.

The everyday tasks of school do not allow or afford these opportunities to recognize people, so many times it is over-looked or our good intentions are put on the back burner. We cannot allow this to happen. In order to change the culture of our schools, the educational leaders need to set these celebrations and recognitions as a high priority.

In my elementary school, we have started to implement staff/student shout outs, recognition of student of the week in activity classes as well as students of the month for the school, parents of the month, staff of the month, best bus behavior, perfect attendance prizes, proficient/advanced test score recognition, random acts of kindness, as well as other things to promote the positive in our schools. These “times to shine” are important to our entire school and community and have really helped the climate and culture at our school to become a positive and successful place.

Recognition, celebration, and appreciation will always be important in any successful arena. In the educational system, we cannot allow testing, attendance issues, grades, and everyday problems to consume our attention. Although addressing those issues are important, so is the task of celebrating what is going well in our schools. People need and desire to feel appreciated.

As August “Auggie” Pullman so eloquently points out in the book, Wonder, that “everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world;” so let us, as educational leaders, decide today to prioritize these standing ovations and celebrate our people to make school a place that people feel needed and appreciated!


Jana Carter currently serves as Assistant Principal at Raymond Elementary School. She has served in the field of public education since August 1996. Her teaching career began as an elementary physical education teacher in Clinton Public School District. She also coached volleyball, soccer, fast-pitch, and track throughout her 20 years at CPSD. In July of 2016, she joined the administrative staff at Raymond Elementary.

Ms. Carter received her formal educational training in Clinton Public Schools. Following, she completed undergraduate studies at Mississippi College and later obtained a Master’s degree from Mississippi College in Educational Leadership.

She believes that building relationships and promoting the positive leads to the success of every student. She totally agrees with the motto that everyone should work together to engage and empower students to ensure excellence!

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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