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Some of Us Work Year-Round: Ideas to Appreciate School Employees Who Work in the Summer

Celebrating Your Teammates Who Work During the Summers

There's a big assumption out there that if you work in a school, you get summer's off.

As principals, we know that this is simply not the case. Some of the most important projects of the year happen during the months of June, July, and August. These projects are all thanks to the amazing women and men who serve at our schools when kids and teachers head out for summer break.

In my building, my summer dream team consists of my 11-month secretaries (like the Registrar and Office Manager), and of course, my stellar custodial team. On any given day, I'll also see my district's maintenance team and grounds crew working to keep our campuses clean, tidy, and a source of pride for our community.

Sure, some of us squeeze some much-deserved vacation time into our summers (me included). But there is no doubt that these teammates work really hard in the summer. Summer is a great time to honor these employees for the great role they play in our kids' education!

There's another group of teammates who give their time and expertise in the summer, too! Those are our summer program teachers: extended school year for those learners with special needs, summer school teachers, and bridge program teachers. To them, thanks is certainly also due.

What exactly gets done during the summer months?

Where to begin!?

In the main office, it's astounding how much tidying needs to be done from the previous year. Sending records to the next school, purging documents that no longer have to be kept on file, and simply unloading from the year's collection of stuff in the main office!

Our custodial teams are such heroes in many ways. From deep cleaning, to stripping and sealing floors, to moving furniture repeatedly, to painting ~ their to-do list is often huge! When I meet with my head-C in May to talk about summer goals, she is ambitious and excited! And I'm always amazed in September how they managed to get it all done...and more.

Our tech team works hard to inventory and repair the student chromebooks that have been in distribution all year. They clean, repair, replace, and inventory several thousands of devices, getting them ready for the next school year.

And of course, teammates who serve out of our district office (HR, Grounds, Maintenance) work tireless every day. They maintain grounds, facilities, move furniture, make repairs, and answer those many requests that us principals have.

Our summer-serving teammates are amazing. As a principal, I grow more appreciative of them every year.

Just as we celebrate teachers, librarians, and counselors during the school year, I like to celebrate my summer team when they're at their busiest.

Ideas for Celebrating School Employees Who Work in the Summer Months

Idea #1: Host a barbecue

One Friday in advance, I send a cute custom invitation to my summer teammates to announce our special barbecue.

I do this for a few reasons. One, I want them to be able to plan accordingly when it comes to lunch on that day, etc. Two, I really want my teammates to feel valued and special ~ this comes, in part, from feeling seen, noticed, and appreciated. I like them to know that I'm thinking and planning for them well in advance...not a last-minute plan the night before.

You can set this up however is best. I like to treat my team to a free meal, but everyone's different. Consider setting it up as a potluck if that's more your style. Otherwise, gathering the barbecue essentials is quick and easy.

Here's a sample invitation that I created using Canva. It literally took me 2 minutes using one of their cute Pro templates. (Click here to try the PRO version for free)

How do I make these cute graphics for nearly every event at my school? I use Canva PRO. You see, I buy a subscription to Canva PRO for my entire school every year and we get our money's worth out of it! Secretaries, Athletic Director, Music Director, teachers...Canva PRO is easy, intuitive, and has millions of ready-to-use templates and assets. Click here to get 30 days of Canva PRO for free and see what I mean.

In my Friday email, I highlight a few things and also include survey links if necessary (such as asking what people would prefer for Friday's barbecue including vegetarian options and dietary restrictions).

The sky is truly the limit for planning and hosting a summer barbecue. If funds allow, consider inviting your employee's families, too! Talk about appreciation!

Please post other ideas in the comments below, especially sharing what you do to celebrate your summer staff members!

Idea #2: Organize a volunteer work party

There is nothing more precious than the gift of time.

Our school has a thriving parent volunteer network. One of my favorite ways to celebrate our summer staff is to give them the gift of time - taking something important off their plate.

In May when I meet with my head C or office manager, I'll ask both if there are any projects that volunteers can do for them over the summer. Our ideas start building and we find at least a few projects that volunteers can support.

Then we use Signup Genius to get volunteers together. Summer is a little trickier with many people traveling and camping at this time. Nonetheless, a helpful work party is a great way to help your summer team feel appreciated.

Here are some summer project ideas to get you started:

  • Freshening up bulletin boards (for those Pinterest lovers out there!)

  • Prepping Staff Recognition gifts from your Principal Power Packs so you can easily roll them out each month

  • Decorating and craft projects, such as jazzing up the staff lounge or a student spaceShredding and organizing in the main office

  • Grounds work such as tidying the school garden or cleaning the flower patches

  • Library organization

  • Painting parties

  • Purging of old school stuff and storage space cleanup

One summer, a parent volunteer who is a hobby artist painted all of the doors in our girls bathroom with positive, inspiring messages that she'd found on Pinterest! The messages were pre-approved and very inspirational. The doors are still a huge hit.

There is no limit to what an inspired, helpful group of adults can do! Dream big, ask your teammates what would be helpful, and go for it.

Idea #3: Coffee runs and other goodies

What teammate doesn't like a pick-me-up now and then? I love to buy coffee and snacks for my teammates! I have my summer custodians' coffee orders saved in my phone; I try to treat them to coffee at least once a week.

Donuts, fruit-kabobs, fizzy water, coffee drinks ~ the sky is the limit on goodies that show we appreciate everyone's hard work.

At least once per summer, I like to swing by the District Office and deliver goodies to our teammates who don't work directly out of my school. These are shared with our Maintenance, Grounds, and HR teams.

I'll add a cute tag to the goodies, which are super easy to make in Canva Pro:

Idea #4: Celebrate on social media