Celebrating Staff from Within

By Gerald Paterson, Principal

McGraw Hill
Inspired Ideas
4 min readApr 29, 2024


As we approach Teacher Appreciation Week across America, it is quite evident that something extraordinary happens on a regular basis at Clarence B. Lamb Elementary School. Our school is nestled in the heart of New Jersey and it is truly a wonderful place for children to learn.

Though academics and administrative tasks are important; our school focuses on a culture of appreciation that permeates every aspect of our school. As the principal, I have had the privilege to see our culture develop firsthand through the remarkable dedication of our teachers and support staff.

Two years ago, Clarence B. Lamb was in search of opportunities to acknowledge the hard work of the teaching staff. We came up with the concept of “Lamb Lifters.” This was a grassroots initiative driven by the passion and commitment of my teachers and support staff. It was a forum for my amazing team to acknowledge each other’s dedication to the profession.

Last summer, one of my teachers reached out to me with a wonderful idea to start the “Gem of the Week.” Instead of the principal being the sole arbiter of recognition, the honor of bestowing the Gem was vested in the hands of our teachers and support staff.

Every Friday the Gem is passed on by the teacher or support staff member who received it the previous week. On Friday, the current Gem takes a picture of the person they are passing the Gem on to and writes a heartfelt message celebrating their teammate’s invaluable contributions to CB Lamb. We include that message in the daily Morning Update, ensuring that the spirit of appreciation is infused at the start of each day.

The impact of these initiatives extends far beyond mere accolades. They foster a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and mutual respect among our staff. They remind us that in the tapestry of our school community, each thread is indispensable, each individual a gem in their own right.

As the principal of this remarkable school, I couldn’t be prouder of the culture of appreciation that flourishes within the walls of our school. It’s not just about proclaiming to have the best team; it’s about nurturing an environment where every member feels valued, supported, and celebrated.

In the journey of education, where challenges can be numerous and victories are hard-won, let us never underestimate the power of a simple gesture of gratitude. For in honoring others, we honor the very essence of what it means to be a part of the Clarence B. Lamb family. This is not only what we strive for, but also what we model for our students during their formative years of learning.

Together, as we continue to uplift and inspire each other, let us remember during the week we celebrate educators across our country that the truest gems are not found in accolades or awards but in the hearts and souls of those who dedicate themselves to the noble cause of shaping young minds.

Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Paterson has been an educator for 28 years. He has taught elementary and middle grade, served as a curriculum supervisor, and is currently the building principal at Clarence B. Lamb Elementary School, in North Hanover Township School District. He is a college professor at Temple University, Drexel University, and Holy Family University in Philadelphia, PA. He is an avid reader of American and World history, oil painter, rower, and enjoys fishing with his son. Connect with Jerry via Twitter @DrPatersonCBL.

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Inspired Ideas

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