Berg Middle School gets wild for Teachers Appreciation Week

May 15—To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, the staff at Berg Middle School decided to have a little fun by participating in a friendly "game show" that encouraged team members to complete fun and sometimes wacky challenges, all the while students reap the benefits from seeing a more relaxed side to their teachers.

Berg Middle School Principal Bret Miller said the idea came from the school building's PTSA president, Graham Sullivan, and assistant principal Jen Wiebel. Organizers wanted to recognize the teachers for all the hard work they do, but they also wanted them to let loose before the end of the school year.

"Instead of just here's a candy bar or here's this or whatever," Miller said. "So they found a company that provides the structure for workplace games and fun things like that. Each morning on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, teachers came to work and had a to spin a big wheel set up on the smart panels."

Spinning the wheel granted gifts and challenges that teachers could complete for points. Miller said challenges ranged from teachers taking videos of themselves dancing in the hallway (and if more people joined in more points would be granted) to imitating an administration staff member. Like, say, Miller!

"I've had some people who probably do a better job of being me than me," he said. "It even extended down to one of the teachers doing an impersonation of me, and the student thought it was funny so I end up seeing a kid walk through the hallway with a Michigan mug and a paper bowtie."

Others had teachers throwing marshmallows, hiding items and other school-appropriate tomfoolery. Miller said one of the coolest challenges he saw had teachers contact a local business and ask for a donation. One such staff member called up a business and donated $500.

"It was so much fun," Miller said. "I've never seen anything like it."

Teachers were divided into teams through their learning pods. Each learning pod — two of each of purple, green, teal and orange — would earn points. The pods with the most points would get bonuses; and the teacher with the most individual points would get a "super bonus" prize.

The activity has been a fun way for teachers to start the day, Miller said; around this time of year, anything the staff can do to create a fun atmosphere is better forstudents and teachers. Miller also sees it as a way for the Berg Middle School family to end the year on a positive high note.

Keeping a light and fun atmosphere is nothing new at Berg Middle School. Since arriving as the building's new principal, Miller's noticed an upbeat attitude.

"When things are going well, people celebrate each other. When things are tough, they are always there to help out. Even if it's not easy or takes time out of their own day," Miller said. "People here will always show up and support each other. I've appreciated that."

For staff, Miller said an event like this gives people permission to not take themselves so seriously. While teachers and administrators certainly still want students to succeed and have high test scores, Miller said what staff want even more is to have good young people coming out of Berg Middle School.

"When you can give people a chance to just be human, I think it helps the adults but then the kids see that, too," Miller said. "It gives them permission to say, 'It's OK to have fun and be goofy in an appropriate way and not a destructive way.' We can have fun and do it in a positive way and in an inviting environment."