We have a long standing tradition at OAA of awarding students who do excellent work in the classroom. We hold an annual Honor Ceremony in which students who have gained Honorable Mention, have reached the Honor Roll, or have gained the lofty heights of the Principal’s List are given an award for their academic accomplishments for the year. It is a normal practice for a school to recognize students who do well academically, but at OAA we take it a step further. In addition the the annual Honor Ceremony, we also have a yearly Classroom Awards Assembly. This gives teachers a chance to recognize students for their contributions to the class that may not show up in the grade book. Teachers determine the criteria for their own classroom awards, and they present the awards to the deserving students themselves in front of the whole school.
This year, one teacher, Mr. Nathan Plank, took the idea of classroom awards even further! He did not simply award those students who “did well” in his class; he gave each student an award with a very personalized touch.
“This year, instead of giving classroom awards, I wrote individualized letters for all my students. I’m always a little uncomfortable with the idea of classroom awards because students always know which students are the “good” ones. The alternative is to make all the awards a little silly, which I didn’t think I was creative enough to do. I’ve had the idea to write individual letters to students before, and I realized that this was the perfect chance to implement it.
I wrote 86 letters–one for each of my students in the middle school and the high school. I wasn’t sure how the students were going to react, but they seemed eager to get their letters, and many of them thanked me for the words of encouragement or advice. I plan to make this a yearly tradition, because I think it’s more meaningful to the students than a simple certificate.”
Mr. Plank is just one of our teachers who puts the ‘A’ in our DNA with such intentional and meaningful Affirmations! Thank you, Mr. Plank, for all that you do to help our students put OAA in their DNA!
– PD Nixon