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Remote Staff Appreciation Ideas for 2020

During our school closure for COVID 19, I have had to be creative about planning ways to show my appreciation to my staff.  I have to admit I have stressed over this for weeks.  It is a little harder than the typical "on-campus" morale boosters and appreciation ideas.

I hope you love the ideas for Remote Staff Appreciation.  I also hope my own staff enjoys some of these ideas too.  I don't have a big budget, so I definitely can't do all of these ideas.  I will either have to scale down my shopping plans or be very intentional searching some great sales.

I made a shopping cart on Amazon for items if you need a quick shopping list.

This is a Google Docs file. You will be prompted to create a copy in your own drive. This will give you the editable features to add your own text to areas that are editable.

1. We Are In This Together

5x7 card to be mailed (6 color options)

2. Create a Game Night and Pizza Pick Up curbside. 

Shop small businesses to help you create a pizza to be picked up. Send out invitations via email or mail to your staff inviting them to pick up their meal. If funds are available, include a deck of cards or board game for family game night at home. Another option is to create a virtual game for the staff to enjoy together.

3. Jimmy Fallon's Classroom Instrument Happy Hour

Share a video of Jimmy Fallon and his classroom instrument from YouTube. Invite your staff to find something around the house to use as their instrument. In advance, ask one of your musically talented staff members to be the vocalist. Set up a virtual call with your staff and have everyone play along. No talent required. Just fun!

4. Hello Sunshine

Create a bag with yellow treats such as lemon drops or butterscotch candy.

5. Lockdown Survival Kit

As teachers are prepping for summer and coming up to clean their classrooms, have a survival kit ready for pickup. Fill a bag with a magazine, a gift card, or treats to enjoy at home.

6. Wash Your Hands

Create a gift tag to attach to a bottle of soap or a bottle of hand sanitizer.

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Home-Based Learning Resources During COVID-19

In response to school closures due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), I would like to share with you what my school is doing for instructional continuity despite this disruption.

We felt it was necessary to keep all information in one location for parents.  After sharing this with the world, our site seemed to be a hit with everyone.  I wanted to make sure you have all the information you need to build a similar site.

Google Sites

Google makes it very easy to build a site.  It literally took me a couple of hours to build it, but then a little longer to link everything up.  Since this pandemic situation is new to us all, we are spending hours creating documents, communicating plans, and studying the spread of the virus so we are steadily informed.  I thought I would share the template with you so you can get started making it for you too.  Hopefully this will save you a ton of time.

The template is ready to go.  All you have to do is add your own documents and school information.  

Do not forget to make a copy to protect your work!



Watch a quick tutorial!

1.  Use the three dots and click DUPLICATE site.
2.  Change the Google Site location to be YOUR GOOGLE DRIVE.  If you fail to do that step, you will get an error message.
3.  Rename your file so you know it is your copy and not my template.


I have created Step by Step Directions for Google Sites here.  Download the PDF and get started on your website.

I used canvas to create the labeled buttons that say COVID Info, Zoom Schedules, etc...  
You can use this template as well to modify any of the buttons for your own customization.  



About Covid
Distance Learning
Frequently Asked Questions
Student and Family Assistance
Special Programs
Digital Backpack
Select Grade Level

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WIN TIME: Fearlessly Transforming Your School

Everyone talks about wanting to have an academically high-performing campus and a campus in which the students and staff love to show up every day.  But very few school leaders talk about what it actually takes to create this kind of environment.  Even fewer school leaders will share their failures so openly.  Therefore, I am co-authoring a book called WIN Time: Fearlessly Transforming Your School.  In this book, we share our success strategies and our hearts with the world.  This book challenges you to change the conversations we are having with each other from what we can't do to what we can do.

Several long months ago, my superintendent (Morris Lyon) and I were called to write a book. We couldn't stop thinking about it, so we went for it. WIN Time is the exact kind of leadership book I wish I had several years ago. It is motivating and strategy-filled, and it changes how you look at what you do or why you are doing the things you are doing. 

Let me ask you a few questions.

Do you ever feel stuck trying to find a way to provide the interventions and enrichments for your students?

Do you have a system to monitor student growth? 

WIN Time will equip you with ideas to be inspired to take action to transform your campus.

WIN Time: Fearlessly Transforming Your School


Defining WIN Time

Summarizes what the definition of WIN time is and why you should implement the system on your campus.

Following the path to success

Describes each step along the path to success so you can create your win.

Building a team

Outlines how to assemble a winning team and how to keep your team focused for the win.

Visioning your win

Outlines why a vision is important, how you can get started, and how to successfully implement the system.

Managing change

Explains how to effectively communicate change and how to handle push back and resistance to change.

Sustaining your win

Describes how to sustain the WIN system which can lead to student achievements and the development of staff.

I believe successful schools must have strong and effective leaders. The fundamental purpose for writing this book is to assist you as your transform your school into a true, high-performing school and to help you improve student achievement and learning. I hope that by sharing our experiences and what we have learned, we can help you on this journey.

- Stephanie, Author and Principal

A true learner-centered school is composed of professionals with a passion for learning. If we, as educators, can model a love for learning, it sends a powerful message to the students. I have learned many lessons over the past twenty years as an administrator. Hopefully, some of the lessons shared in the book will make your journey a little easier. Remember to be your best self, build relationships, be grateful, lead with passion, and always model a love for learning.

- Morris Lyon, Author and Superintendent

WIN Time: Fearlessly Transforming Your School

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Student Recognition Award and Banquet in Elementary School

As educators, we know the value of recognizing students for their hard work and excellent behavior.

However, what about those students who consistently earn the honor roll, who are always in attendance, who are responsible young men and women day in and day out?  Yes, they get the same reward as everyone else.

But, why not give them a little bit more honor and recognition for being the model student?  That is exactly what we did and why we created an award's program called Stars in Excellence.  Stars in Excellence is for our upper elementary grades.  For me, we begin this in fifth and sixth grade only.  It is an award's banquet strictly for the older grades.


Items purchased for decorations can be used multiple years.  This helps save on the budget.
Gold stars and gift packing paper added for extra decorations.
Placemats (school color)

Last year (2019), we decided it was time to set aside time dedicated in honor of these students.  To begin selecting the students, we knew we needed to be consistent in selecting these students.  Therefore, we created a criteria checklist.


Feel free to take our criteria list and tweak it to fit your campus.

1.  Must be recommended by their core subject area teachers.  All the teachers need to agree this student is worthy of the award.
2.  Have an overall semester average of 90 or higher in all subject areas.
3.  Exhibits exemplary behavior, character, and attitude.
4.  No unexcused absences.


1.  Welcome and Introductions by Principal
2.  About the Award by Assistant Principal
3.  Dinner was served.  We had a Taco Buffet.
4.  Teachers presented awards and shared meaningful messages about each student.
5.  Parents and students came up to the front and received certificate and were pinned by their parents/guardians.
6.  The slides showed a picture of each student, their name, and grade level.


Pictured above: Invitation and Table Sign

An invitation was sent home with the student two weeks in advance.  My 5th graders received personal calls from me since this was their first year to experience the award.


We wanted to take a minute to showcase the parents and guardians who were in attendance for helping their child perform so well in school.  I think we often forget this in awards.  However, there is so much value in recognizing the parents for instilling values of relentlessness, leadership, and academics in their child.  Parents were asked to come up to the front with their child and receive the award along side of their child.  In addition, a photographer was stationed in front to chapter the parent/guardian pinning their child.  The pin can be seen in the picture on top of the certificates.


The meal wasn't too expensive since I was feeding up to 75 attendees.  We ordered from Fuzzy's Taco Shop.  The cupcakes were baked by a teacher who also runs a business on the side.

The photographer is a teacher who runs a photography business on the side.  Parents can access the pictures from her as early as the next day.

Backdrop for photographer was purchased here on Amazon.  Again, this is a purchase I can use again for other events on campus.

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Creative and Fun Morale Boosters

As you may know, I love to show my appreciation and love to my staff.  I keep in mind that not everyone loves food treats. Therefore, I like to mix it up a little.  I recently purchased a couple of fun items from Amazon that I must show off.

1.  You're Awesome - 30 pop-open cards

I love these because they're a little bit of a surprise.  Who doesn't like opening a little surprise message?  The messages are simple, yet beautifully packaged.  I also like to mention there is no prep in this.   At our next meeting, I will share the cards with the staff and allow them time to read the cards.

Also available are You Matter Theme and Shine Theme.

You're Awesome Cards can be located on Amazon.

Each box contains 30 cards with a different message on each card.

Each message is sealed, but they easily open by pulling the edge away.

I didn't take a picture of the back of the card, but each card has a writing space if you want to add a special note.


I read the description before ordering, but I noticed a few customers did not realize the size of the cards.  I think I like the idea of the size being small.  It is just a cute little card with a positive message.

If you like the cards, they have them for kids too!

I can't remember the last time the campus had such great laughs so early in the morning.  We have some staff who have a great sense of humor, so these cups were perfect.

I sent my staff a message as I do at least once a week via Remind.  I said, "It's okay to pick your nose today!  Not literally!  Enjoy your cup of coffee in a fun cup!"

This is not be best picture of me, but it shows the cup off perfectly.

Need ideas to help boost your school's morale?  Download Morale Magic™


I post on social media every day!  I love to share a day in the life of a principal, so I hope you are following along.

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One Word: Word of the Year Idea

Do you choose a word of the year?  I know it is hard to decide on just one word!  However, over the last few years, I have made a focus on one word for the year.  Last year, my word was courageous.


Having courageous as my mantra and one word for the year, I was able to push myself to do and try new things.  Never did I expect my one word to be such a focus and guide me through the year as I did this last year.

As we approach just a day away from 2020, I want to share with you my word for the new year.  My word for 2020 is relentless.  I have several new things coming this year.  My biggest project is a book that has been in the works for several months.  My other books, Morale Magic™ and Morale Magic Mini, are ebooks and have been a big success.  I can't wait to share with you new project for school leaders and many other things.  To me, being relentless means there is no end to self-improvement.

In 2018, we did an activity outside and made a wish for the new year.  You can read more about that here.

If you are looking for ideas for the entire year, check out my Trello Board.  If you haven't heard of TRELLO, it is like a big Pinterest board but allows everyone to collaborate and share resources.  I have always said that the best leaders are leaders who work as a team!

Principal Principles Trello Board

Happy New Year!  I wish you great success and happiness.

Let's stay connected through social media.

Twitter: @principalsteph1
Facebook: principalprinciples
Instagram: @principalprinciples
Email: principalprinciples@gmail.com

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December Morale Boosters for Teachers

December is the perfect time of the year to let your students and staff know that you appreciate them.  It is also the best time to spread holiday cheer for all to hear.  I am very intentional about showing appreciation either in forms of treats or in affirmations.  I know everyone has their own love language, so I try and think about a variety of ways to show the staff they are valued.

As the leader of a campus you hold the cards to creating a culture in which every individual is recognized and appreciated.

Let's take a look at some fun ideas taking place this month on my campus.



We have the House System this year.  If you are unfamiliar with it, take a look back at this post or at Ron Clark's website.   This is an activity that my staff will be participating in after school.  The trees were provided plus a $50 gift card for each House (team).  Each team could purchase or collect more supplies, but this is all I was able to contribute to the team building activity.

After school, the Houses will join together and decorate their trees.  The trees will be on display in the school the following morning and judges will be around to award each House.  Every House is a winner.  The points will be given to the Houses.  In doing so, the students will win as well.

It's a tree-mendous event!

As I write this post the event has not yet taken place.  I will be sure to share pictures of the decorated trees and give you the scoop.  



On the first day of Christmas, my principal gave to me, a Starbucks caramel coffee.


Here is the menu for the Kringle Cafe.  
Large coffee dispensers will be filled with a variety of flavored coffees.  The cold drinks were Starbucks drinks from the local grocery store.  


On the second day of Christmas my principal gave to me, a chocolate mint.  The song says "two" but every item from this day forward is one.


On the third day of Christmas my principal gave to me, a fancy pen.

The pens will be provided along with a holiday card to read and another blank card to share. The goal is for the teachers and staff members to not only receive a card but to write a card to another colleague on campus using the pen.


On the fourth day of Christmas my principal gave to me, four amazing words (YOU MATTER TO ME.)  It can never be said enough.  The words You Matter to Me should be said often and with a sincere heart.  The staff will receive a reminder that morning how much they matter to me and an email with a inspirational video.


On the fifth day of Christmas my principal gave to me, cold drinks.

A drink cart or drink station will be provided with Oceanspray cranberry-flavored drinks.  December is the perfect time of the year to enjoy all things Cranberry!


On the sixth day of Christmas my principal gave to me, sweaters soiree-ing.  Soiree is not a word I typically use in my everyday vocabulary.  It just seems to fit the tune of the song.  Since the word "soiree-ing" really doesn't exist, I just made it up.  Why not just create a word?!

Instead of an ugly sweater this year, everyone is asked to wear something holly and jolly.  That just means wear something festive and cozy.  Points will be awarded to the Houses for participating.


On the seventh day of Christmas my principal gave to me, cookies baking.

Delicious cookies from the bakery are provided for the campus to enjoy.  Sister2Sister Cookies is a local bakery.  The cookies are made fresh daily.  Cookies can be shipped to you.  These cookies are like no other cookie.  They are thick, soft, and preservative free.  Grab some delicious cookies from the shop if you are in the East Texas area, or go online and have a box shipped to you.


On the eighth day of Christmas my principal gave to me, gifts-a-wrapping.  This is one exciting day.  Our teachers will have the opportunity to attend a Scholastic Book Fair and purchase books for the students in their class.  A wrapping paper station will be provided in the conference room so the staff can wrap the books if they choose to do so.


On the ninth day of Christmas my principal gave to me, lotto tickets for scratching.  I purchased the scratch off stickers from Amazon.  They have been so handy and easy to use.  I purchased a large set of them last year, and I still have plenty for additional projects.  If you haven't discovered these, they are a must for your Amazon list.

My tickets are for House points so teachers can help raise their team points.


On the tenth day of Christmas my principal gave to me, refreshments for mingling.  Pringles™ are a fun little snack plus they a bit unexpected.  In addition, Pringles™ rhyme with mingle!


Jingle written by McConnell and Schrubb


On the eleventh day of Christmas my principal gave to me, popcorn popping.  To cut costs you can pop microwave popcorn or use a popcorn machine.  If you have a workable budget, gourmet popcorn in a variety of flavors are an option.


On the twelfth day of Christmas my principal gave to me, students humming.

 This takes us up to the school Christmas program.  We have a wonderful musical this year planned, and I know it will be enjoyed by all.

I have compiled a few things to help you with any shopping needs.  If you would like to save some time, Amazon is a great way to avoid fighting the crowds.  Here is a list I started for next year:

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