Teachers and staff entering the faculty lounge at Old Saybrook High School before the morning bell were treated to a mouthwatering surprise: three tables of hot and cold breakfast foods, snacks, and beverages brought in—on the sly—by parents wanting to show their appreciation.
“What a wonderful thing!” said child development and family specialist Judy Ayers, who does double duty as a literacy interventionist at the elementary school.
“Oh—this is very cool,” special education teacher Kendra Flaherty agreed, surveying the spread. “It’s so nice to walk into this in the morning. I’m surprised—but also not surprised, because our parents are the best. They’re so supportive.”
Old Saybrook High School parents arrived at the building early with bowls of fresh fruit, boxes of hot coffee, warm quiche, cold orange juice, and trays of donuts, pastries, and snacks. They left before teachers could spot them.
“To come in on a school day and see all of this—put together for us early in the morning by our students’ parents—it’s so nice,” said world language teacher Manon Zumbaum. “To be recognized this way, in some ways it’s nicer than a paycheck!”
The parent hospitality committee, affectionately named YUM (Your Ultimate Motivation…Food!), was organized by parent Amy Worman, who moved from Florida to Connecticut with her family last year.
“This is not a formal group under the PTO,” Worman explains, “but simply an anonymous group of parents and grandparents who want to thank and treat the faculty and staff once a month with continental breakfast items, juice, flavored coffee, and other tasty treats. We’re more of a ‘stealth elf’ group, where we quietly enter campus, set up the food, and slip out quickly. I designed it in similar fashion to a group I ran in Florida. We run it informally so as not to pressure administration or front office staff to feel they need to be engaged with the planning. We just give them a day’s heads-up, and the next morning a few of us drop off whatever we can contribute.”
Worman continues, “I host a few bins that stay in the lounge and have a running stock of cutlery, plates, napkins, coffee stirrers, themed tableware, and cups. In a brief email thread with the committee, participants for that month let me know what they’d like to bring. There are no established parameters. Parents can do simple items if they choose, or they can go fancy; they can help set up, or they can drop their items and run. The idea behind this is to make it pressure-free. I tell parents, do whatever moves you—it’s all appreciated.”
On YUM days, teachers and staff are invited to come grab food and drinks anytime until the early afternoon, when a parent volunteer comes and cleans up.
“It’s a super-easy, fun thing to be involved in,” says Worman, “and it makes for a wonderful and happy day for our teachers.”
Business teacher Terri Linn and special education teacher Kris Colella were among the earliest arrivals at the inaugural YUM breakfast, marveling at the transformed lounge.
“What a wonderful gesture!” said Colella.
“It’s like what happens with students, when they see how much they mean to us,” Linn observed. “You’re reminded that you are appreciated.”