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Party Time!

One of the great annual events on the pedagogical calendar has traditionally been the End-Term Party. Each school had one and almost every staff member attended: teachers, paras, secretaries, clinicians, supervisors, aides, food handlers, custodians. It was a school family affair and everyone was equal without poses of self-importance based on rank. There were no social distinctions among various job descriptions, because everyone realized what a crock these Department of Education-induced walls of separation are.

But the institution of the end-term party seems to have fallen on hard times. Celebration of human solidarity at school has devolved into an obscure concept in recent years, seemingly in relation to the decline in morale and the status of the profession as rendered by the DOE. The moonlight cruise around Manhattan and the catering hall dance extravaganzas are less common and more sparsely attended. Perhaps folks are afraid that the party will be like another Teachers College P.D. at which Kool-Aid will be drunk en masse.

Scientists claim that melting polar ice caps, the fragility of coral reefs and the decline and extinction of species are signs of trouble on earth. In my view the absence of social committees conviviality when not on company time is symptomatic of crisis at school.

Well, ecosystems have enormous powers of recovery from traumatic damage and so have school systems. So if your school has planned an end-term party, attend it. If none is planned, make some spontaneous arrangement. The staff party should be inclusive and not amount to the sum of the school’s cliques.

But wherever it is held, remember these two points: 1) It is the staff’s party; the principal is not in charge of any aspect of it, although she should be invited if she treats the staff decently and is a paid up member of the social committee in good standing; 2) No talking “shop!”

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4 Comments:

  • 1 Gideon
    · Jun 6, 2009 at 10:46 am

    What’s wrong with the principal being in charge of the staff party? They often pay for it out of their own pocket. This is just another example of creating an artificial divide between school leaders and staff. Certainly anyone who is interested should be allowed to help plan a staff party, but why single out the principal for exclusion, particularly if s/he is the person responsible for staff morale in the first place.

  • 2 ron isaac
    · Jun 6, 2009 at 11:55 am

    It is the school’s party, not the principal’s. It is the school community’s school, not solely the principal’s. I have never heard, in 40 years, of a single principal who paid for the party out of his/her own pocket. Usually the cost is around $65 and is funded by the Social Committee to which staff members belong. I did not single out anyone for exclusion ( except abusive principals). The staff morale is determined by many factors. A strong chapter should have as much a bearing on a principal’s morale as vice versa. Certainly the principal should not be paid off by being offered freebees or influence that is properly due others. The principal is a staff member equal to any other. But not greater.

  • 3 Barbara Mulligan
    · Jun 7, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    This post interests me because our end of the year staff party plans are still not finalized. I have enjoyed several in the past – boat rides, luncheons at restaurants – but my favorite of all was held at school after the children had left on the last day. It was held in the cafeteria and included all of the staff. We ate a lot and laughed and laughed. Everyone mingled and enjoyed the feeling of a “fait accompli”. No one got embarassingly drunk. It was just a nice celebration. That suggestion was shot down this year in favor of bigger hoopla. And I don’t want bigger hoopla, just another lovely celebration of this year’s “fait accompli”.
    SO much for me helping school morale.

  • 4 tom anselm
    · Jun 7, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    We have a very generous principal and he comes across a lot of times, with the other asst. principals, to pay for pizza and beer at happy hours, appetizers and sodas after testing periods,and holiday parties. We include them all in the planning, and include all staff in the events. Not all show up, but all are invited.
    So we have a good deal going.
    Tom Anselm, teacher/author
    YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD FOR SPACE CAMP