When NASSP 2021 Digital Principal of the Year Cindy Sholtys-Cromwell presented on creative ways to hold staff celebrations at a state conference in 2019, she was shocked by the level of interest she received from fellow school leaders.

Sholtys-Cromwell, the principal of Kelso Virtual Academy in Kelso, WA, loves to celebrate her staff members and her students, and she has done so creatively for years, back to her time as principal of a brick-and-mortar elementary school. At the conference, she had no idea just how many school leaders wanted to enjoy fun celebrations at their schools but lacked the time or ingenuity to come up with easy ideas.

Staff members at Kelso Virtual Academy engage in many celebrations, like the one here for the movie Top Gun: Maverick, thanks to Principal Cindy Sholtys-Cromwell.

So, Sholtys-Cromwell decided to send her own ideas to other school leaders. That’s how her monthly newsletter, “The School Celebration Newsletter,” which she creates on smore.com was born. “I started to send my newsletter out, and I kept getting requests: ‘Are you OK if I share this with people?’ That brought so much joy for me.”

Each newsletter includes an introductory note from Sholtys-Cromwell and ideas for celebrations related to particular days of the month. For example, on National Golf Lovers’ Day in October, Sholtys-Cromwell created a makeshift miniature golf course in her school, and staff members played together. Although students attend Kelso virtually, the school does have an actual building where teachers work each day.

“Because we are virtual, so much of the celebrations we do at school are staff-focused,” Sholtys-Cromwell says. “We are family. We are a team. You have to be able to have fun together so you can do the hard work together.”

Sholtys-Cromwell realizes that not every principal will celebrate with their staff as much as she does, but she hopes all principals find their own ways to reward staff members.

“This work is challenging like never before” she says. “Educators give everything to everybody else. We don’t do a really good job of taking care of ourselves.”

Some ideas from the November edition:

  • Nov. 3 – National Sandwich Day
    • Sholtys-Cromwell recommends purchasing sandwich trays for your staff.
  • Nov. 15 – National Clean Out Your Fridge Day
    • What better way to encourage staff members to clean out the office fridge?
  • Nov. 30 – National Mason Jar Day
    • Put a string of lights in a mason jar to remind staff members to be a “light” for others.

Check out Sholtys-Cromwell’s November newsletter here, and sign up to receive it every month by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom.

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