Just like droves of fans wait to welcome celebrity guests to popular morning television programs like Good Morning America, every Monday morning, administrators, school board members, parents, and community members line up outside of all Western Wayne School District Buildings to welcome in students as they return after their weekend break.
The initiative is titled “Today’s a Great Day, to Have a Great Day…Can’t Hide That Wildcat PRIDE!” This idea came from Mrs. Mindy Maros, a parent in the district, whose purpose with the initiative is to promote a positive environment for students to come to school, and to get parents involved in the school community in a positive way.
“Last year I read an article about a school in Indiana that did a similar program. I thought the idea was great; small time commitment, another opportunity for parents to be involved and it’s simple to do. We aren’t asking anyone to teach algebra- just to help us create a fun, welcoming atmosphere on Monday mornings,” Maros explained.
She said it was a smooth process to get her ideas into action.
“I pitched the idea to Miss Faliskie and Mrs. Fiorella. They were enthusiastic and instrumental in the idea coming to fruition. From there, they took it to the Administration and we followed up with talking to parents at all the Open Houses this fall. All of our Great Days volunteers have been approved through our background clearances process. We had shirts made through Custom Cured in our community, picked some fun songs and we’re off to a great start! We’re thrilled to not only have parents helping, but community members, as well,” Maros said.
The kick-off for the Monday welcome program at Western Wayne School District began on Monday, Oct. 15 and will continue throughout the year.
The high school band even joined in on the fun for the first day to play some lively music to get students excited to start their weeks at the middle and high schools.
“We are happy to play for the students to help make them feel more enthusiastic about the start of the week,” Mrs. Elaine Ort, high school band director, said.
The second week of “Today’s a Great Day” was just as successful as the first with many administrators, school board members, parents, and community members lining the walkways to the schools in the district to welcome the students back. In the middle school, music was played throughout the loud speakers to help add to the positive energy created by the greetings given by the adults to the students.
Parent Bill McCormick, whose son is a high school student, joined in on the fun for the second week. He found out about the opportunity through emails the district sends to parents informing of them of different school events.
“I just wanted to come out and support the school,” McCormick said. “There are a lot of good kids here at Western Wayne and many good programs like this one.”
Fellow Western Wayne parent Nicole O’Donnell agrees with McCormick.
“I wanted to come and welcome students because I know some of them don’t have parents at home in the morning to greet them,” she explained.
Community members also attended to interact with students and spread positivity. Melvina Black is a retired teacher from New York City who learned about the initiative from Bernice Fiorella, president of the Western Wayne Board of Education.
Black is a master teacher who taught all subjects in grades Pre-K through sixth for 15 years before retiring from teaching. Her degree is called Common Branches.
“I think greeting the students gives them a sense of pride and makes them feel welcomed,” Black explained.
She has enjoyed welcoming Western Wayne students to school at the two opening weeks of the initiative and plans to continue participating in this tradition in the future. She has also agreed to be a tutor in the high school on some mornings and is excited to help Western Wayne students refine their academic skills.
Parent Sandi Beavers thinks it is wonderful that community members like Black want to take the time to greet and work with students in the district. Beavers has two sons that attend Western Wayne and is highly involved in multiple parent groups at the district including the Band Parent and Drama Parent organizations.
“I enjoy working to make Western Wayne the best possible place it can be to meet the needs of all students,” Beavers said. “The welcome initiative is just another way that I can help spread pride at Western Wayne.”
Maros is glad that parents like Beavers feel this way since this outcome was her intention with the program from the start.
“Our goal is that through this effort, our students will look forward to Mondays, feel encouraged and most of all that they will feel known and valued by their community. We also hope that our entire district will embrace this opportunity for personal connection in an era when digital connection is prominent. When we take the time to pour into our kids and help them feel valued, it’s time well spent. Mondays can be tough, but when you add fun music, a word of encouragement and a few high fives, we can change Mondays into Great Days,” Maros discussed.
All administrators, school board members, community members, parents, and, most importantly, students look forward to continuing the welcome tradition throughout the school year.