I am so glad you found us! It is my mission to make teacher and staff appreciation as easy as possible for you.
This post contains everything you ever wanted to know about planning a "Best in the West" Country Western themed Appreciation Week at your school. If you are in the "What did I get myself in to?! I AM FREAKING OUT!" stage and are looking for step-by-step instructions, I've got you covered. Our post, "How To Prepare for Appreciation Week," will walk you through the entire process. Be sure to download the free planning guide too!
To increase awareness in the school community and generate some excitement before Appreciation Week (and hopefully more volunteers), posters are the way to go. Posters are attention grabbers and serve as a visual reminder to parents who may have forgotten to read or respond to emails about Appreciation Week.
This year, we publicized Appreciation Week online (and via Room Parents) and saved the promotional posters for the High Falutin' Coffee Cart. You can read more about the coffee cart here.
SCHOOL EMAIL BLASTS, WEBSITE and SOCIAL MEDIA
A few years ago, the PTSA created a school website and gave our Hospitality Committee a page of its very own! FANCY! I included information about Appreciation Week plans and SignUp Genius links on the Hospitality webpage (which was listed on the posters and included in the weekly school newsletter).
Cover all of your bases. Yes, emails can get lost in an inbox, but many parents diligently read weekly school emails. Others prefer consuming their information via school Facebook pages or Instagram. Posters are great for raising awareness with the parents that go to the school. However, you also need to reach parents who are at work all day, and the families of children who ride the bus or walk to school themselves.
Get in touch with your school's communications volunteer and find out when their submission deadlines are. They can include information about Appreciation Week in their newsletters, send email blast reminders about coloring sheets, and post on the social media accounts for you.
The Time Line
You will want to print in phases unless you are REALLY on the ball and get it all done in one swoop. I don't think I have ever had everything ready two weeks ahead of time.
Phase One - Two weeks before Appreciation Week, print your invitations, promotional posters, coloring sheets, and anything else you have ready to go. Printing two weeks in advance will give you time to sort everything.
Phase Two - One week before Appreciation Week, print your customized daily event signs and food labels, along with any other posters, decorations, and printables (cupcake toppers, thank you tags, candy bar wrappers, etc.).
TIP: Ask your school office manager or secretary if you have access to the school district print shop. It depends on your district, but as long as you are printing something related to a school activity, it should be fine. Our school district print shop is fast, the prints look fantastic, and they are unbelievably affordable. Honestly, I get angry when I have to use FedEx, Staples, or a local print shop now because their mark up is ridiculous. Moving on.
Deliver invitations to the staff mailboxes anywhere from a few days to one week beforehand. Unlike years past (hold on to your hats!) our "Best in the West" Appreciation Week does not have pre-ordered coffee drinks for breakfast, or individual staff lunches prepared by parents. There is nothing for the staff to return so the invitations don’t need to be delivered any earlier. What in tarnation?!
Before we jump in, let me point you to another resource: "Student Coloring Sheets for Appreciation Week." This topic deserves a post of its' own. Coordinating coloring sheets is not hard work, but it can be time-consuming. Also, parents can be squirrelly (myself included) and need constant reminders. Be sure to read the post and download the free planning guide and checklists. I have learned from my mistakes and fine-tuned the process over the years.
Here is the short version of coloring sheet preparation:
- Bring the school secretary some coffee or a treat (very important) and ask for an updated student headcount for each class. Do not use the school directory. Students come and go throughout the year, and the numbers most likely will not be accurate.
- Sort the coloring sheets into piles for each classroom, and place them in a large manilla envelopes with the teacher's Wanted sign. These Rubber Finger Tips are the best things ever for sorting giant stacks of paper. They will save you hours of sorting. I'm not kidding.
- Coordinate with the room parents regarding pick up of the manilla envelope, distribution of the coloring sheets, parent communication, etc. (All of this is covered in-depth in the post I linked to up above.)
On Wednesday or Thursday before Appreciation Week, send the students home with “I Think You Are The Best in the West because…” pictures to color for their teacher. In addition to the coloring pages being sent home, if your school sends out a weekly newsletter, include a blurb about Appreciation Week and a link for parents to download and print additional copies. On Monday, the students will present their pictures and notes to their teachers, and a (pre-arranged) room parent will hang them on the classroom doors.
TIP: Have your room parents send a coloring sheet reminder emails to the classroom parents on Sunday. Inevitably a handful of students will forget, and will appreciate the reminder. (I appreciate every reminder I receive. #squirrel)
I know I say this every year, but this is my new favorite theme. I am obsessed with the colors, patterns and textures of everything. I created some really fun posters for around the school, as well as a pennant banner that looked fabulous hung in the main office windows and on their desks.
We have the following posters available in our shop:
Western Poster Collection (Yee Haw, Howdy Partner, and Welcome Ya'll)
Giant "You Are The Best in the West" poster
Due to popular demand, this year I created a CUSTOMIZABLE “Best in the West” poster. The default is "Our Teachers Are..." but you can personalize the poster to say that anyway is "Best in the West." YEE-HAW!
Two "Wanted" signs for every staff member came out of our Appreciation Week budget, and so the customized, "Best in the West" posters were offered to room parents as optional/additional decorations. They were given to opportunity to purchase the poster along with our "Fancy Pants" picnic lunch printables. (I only charged them the cost of printing.) You can read more about the customized posters and individual lunches here.
Of all the themes and decorations I have done over the years, the superhero posters were the biggest hit with the students. I wanted to do something similar this year and came up with "Wanted" signs. I took pictures of the staff decked out in a cowboy hat and bandana, and worked some magic to create the signs. I love how they turned out, and they were a HUGE hit with the students and staff alike. Click here for a instructions on how to create them for your school!
I printed two of each "Wanted" signs (8x10) because they were our main decorations for the year. One was hung in the staff lounge around our giant "You are the Best in the West!" poster, the other on classroom doors (teachers) or lining the hallway leading to the lunch room (staff).
Sign Ups + Coordinating Volunteers
As with the coloring sheets, coordinating your incredible army of volunteers is worthy of a blog post of its' very own. Be sure to read "How To Prepare for Appreciation Week," for step-by-step instructions on coordinating committee and room parent volunteers.
Here is the short version of volunteer coordination:
- As soon as you know the dates for Appreciation Week let your committee and room parents know. Coordinate with the school secretary and/or office manager at the beginning of the school year to confirm the "official" week.
- Two months before Appreciation Week, send a reminder email to your volunteers. Mom-brain is real. I appreciate all the reminders I can get. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
- Create separate sign ups (using SignUp Genius) for each of your five events + decorations + coloring sheets + coffee cart.
- Email your committee one month before Appreciation Week with links to all of your sign ups.
- Two weeks before Appreciation Week, reach out to volunteers that have not signed up yet. Include room parents in the email. They are on the ball and always willing to help.
It goes on. Like I said, read the other blog post and download the free worksheets and checklists. It really isn't that difficult, but you will have a lot of balls in the air. Checklists are your friend.
Update: This was the year SignUp Genius rolled out TABBED sign ups. You can now create one glorious Appreciation Week sign up with tabs for each event. It is organized and beautiful. There is an additional fee for this feature, so I upgrade my account for a few months surrounding Appreciation Week in order to have access, then downgrade. You can read more about how I created a tabbed Appreciation Week sign up here.
Mosey on Over!
I don't want to keep ramblin' so I'm going to break this post into bite-sized pieces for all ya'll. You can read the specifics about the days and activities of our Rootin' Tootin' Appreciation Week below. YEE HAW!
How to Make a Wanted Poster
Downhome BBQ + Chili Cook Off
High Falutin' Coffee Cart + Breakfast Bonanza
Fancy Pants Picnic Lunches
More Appreciation Goodness!
The "Best in the West" western theme is just one of the Appreciation Week themes I have planned over the years. You can use one of these themes for next year!