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February 27 , 2009

FROM JOE'S DESK: Making A School Smile


Imagine the surprise on teacher's faces when Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy unexpectedly took over the staff meeting from the principal. This and many other creative uses of humor became the norm in one upstate New York elementary school and changed it from ordinary to excellent. 

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Schools too often are painted as inflexible places housing teachers who are more concerned with union politics than the achievement of students. As a result educators would almost die for some much deserved respect from just about anyone. What better way for teachers to feel acknowledged than their principal regularly using humor to convey acceptance and appreciation.

From Joe's Desk: Making A School Smile presents one principal's use of humor and illustrates how it transformed the school. Humor was used in a variety of ways at W.S. Elementary School. The main way was through weekly bulletins written between 1999-2008. These bulletins are reprinted and form the body of the book. The bulletins are followed by the author's explanation of their personal or educational significance.

While the humorous bulletins built morale, it was the competence and dedication of the staff that increased student achievement in spite of the No Child Left Behind Act and other barriers. From Joe's Desk... is a positive look at schools and teachers and counters the pundits to clearly state that schools are not broken.

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