Employee Relief supports staff

Parent committee aids staff in challenge


Lauren Thon

Science teacher Patrick Hartman helps a student in the hallway. Helping a student in the hallway during freshman orientation was one of the challenges featured in Employee Relief.

Recently, the Employee Relief challenge was designed to cover a family meal for an employee. The Parent Engagement Advisory Committee (PEAC) has been supporting the challenge by helping Jennifer Thomas, an administrative assistant at Park and the creator of the challenge. 

According to co-chair of the PEAC Julie Yakes, some types of donations have been Google Home Minis and gift cards up to $50 to small businesses. She said they are supporting Thomas by asking for donations to fund the challenges in 6425 News.

“It’s a good way to help out local businesses, but really it’s about the gratitude that all parents have for the amazing and herculean efforts that teachers are making right now and these very dynamic times,” Yakes said.

According to Thomas, every other week she gives out a $50 gift card from a local business to make a dinner of relief for an employee at Park. To enter, any type of staff has to reply with their response to the challenge through an email. She hopes this can be a distraction from the Park community’s resentment.

“I’m hoping that the entire high school staff will feel that we’re all a team and that we’re all working towards the same goals,” Thomas said. “I’m (also) hoping that we can distract from (the) negative feedback and frustration within the school and outside the school and show the community that we’re working really hard. We need encouragement, everybody does.”

Science teacher Alexander Polk said this challenge has given an essential morale boost to the staff.

“Especially in our current environment, the aspect of any sort of positivity goes a long way right now,” Polk said. “It might not even get us up to like where we were before, but there’s a little bit more connection than we had at the beginning of all this stuff.”

According to Yakes, the challenge is a chance to appreciate all of the work the staff has been putting in.

“This could be an opportunity. Right now, we’re just trying to do whatever we can. The teachers are working long long hours,” Yakes said. “I know Ms. Lohberg, Mr. Goggleye and Ms. Busse are working 14–16 hours every day.”

Thomas said due to the current environment, it is exciting for her and the parents to discover what the staff has been working on.  

“It’s been so much fun to get responses from people and see what they’re doing and notice them acknowledging themselves,” Thomas said. “It’s fun for people outside the building to see all of us as a community doing this together.”

According to Polk, these challenges have helped teachers address the sadness of not seeing students frequently.

“There isn’t anything that’s gonna make up for seeing people in person; that’s the big thing for most of us at this point,” Polk said. “We miss the students; (freshman) orientation and stuff helped us realize, for me at least, how much of an impact it makes.”

To donate or to learn more about Employee Relief, contact Jennifer Thomas.