School family day: Appreciation for job well done

Published 2:07 pm Thursday, May 13, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- For the last 18 years, Niles Community Schools have been making an effort to create a family atmosphere among staff members within the district.
With School Family Day on Tuesday, school staff from across the district were brought together and given some appreciation for the hard work they display day-in and day-out.
Events like a Hawaiian-themed lunch at Northside Child Development Center, a cookout at Howard-Ellis Elementary and an ice cream social at Ballard Elementary were planned to gather all of the school district employees including maintenance staff, secretaries and teachers together in one place for a celebration of their commitment to students in Niles.
Employees that have been with Niles schools for five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years are all given special recognition with a gift from the district.
At Howard, the staff was brought into the school library for a lunch of homemade chicken with a number of side dishes and desserts.
Third grade teacher Erv Marker said the meal was made completely from scratch by principal Barb Garrard and assistant principal Gretchen Hart.
Hart said with these employees being on the frontline all of the time, they don't get very many opportunities to relax with each other.
Garrard, who has been involved in School Family Day for all 18 years, thinks it is a unique opportunity to acknowledge her staff as a whole for their dedication to the school.
Many of the schools also send out invitations to retired employees to come back and visit their old places of work. Harold Haller, a retired teacher from Howard Elementary for the last nine years, made a trip back to his old stomping grounds for School Family Day.
Principal Cindy Wickham presented each of the employees, who had been with the school for five to 35 years, with their special gifts before turning on some Hawaiian music and letting them enjoy their lunches.