Last week, during the National Education Foundation’s (NEA) Teacher Appreciation Week, Norwood Public Schools’ administration honored all of its staff with a week-long event based on the Survivor reality games, offering daily activities throughout the school buildings during which staff earned points, met challenges, won prizes and culminated in a grand prize winner.

Norwood principal Sam Ryan said that instead of just honoring teachers, the administration chose to honor all of the staff. 

“Norwood School is blessed to have incredible teachers,” he said, “but rather than trying to single each sub-group of our staff out for their specific day or week, we thought it would be fitting to celebrate all of the people who help our students and school function every day this week.” 

He added, “We did add a few extra drawings and perks to the week that were teacher-specific, but we wanted everyone to engage and enjoy the process.” 

Shelley Donnellon, the second- and third-grade teacher at NPS, said the games were well-timed, as “May can be an extremely intense time of year.” 

Donnellon said it was hard to pick a favorite activity. 

“Spinning the wheel everyday to receive your daily challenge was a good way to start the day,” she said. "Waiting to see if you were a part of someone else's challenge was also fun, but probably the best part was seeing all of the staff engaging in some friendly competition and completing each of the silly challenges. We had masked singers dancing to classic songs and marshmallow attacks, just to name a few things.”

Jennie Thomas, Norwood Schools’ social worker, enjoyed the week, too. One of her challenges was to create and document on video an interpretive dance to go with Mylie Cyrus’s song “The Climb.” She made the video with second- and third-graders who climbed the rope in the gym while she danced. 

All videos were initially sent out to the entire staff, but that bogged down the server, said Thomas, so they had to share them in a Google folder. 

“It’s such a positive event, designed to boost employee morale and show appreciation to those serving the kids of this community,” said Thomas. 

Donnellon added, “The efforts made by students and the school administration in organizing the Survivor-style staff appreciation game week demonstrate a commitment to recognizing and appreciating teachers, which can be highly meaningful.”

And that is exactly what the NEA asked of communities for Teacher Appreciation Week. NEA’s website banner last week said, “This year, we’re joining together to tell teachers that we will listen to them, we will stand with them, and together we will take action so that every student has a teacher who feels respected and supported.”

At the end of the week, Teresa Neuberger, secretary for the school district, won the grand prize for accumulating the most points. She won “an awesome camping gear package AND will get to display the Staff Appreciation Week G.O.A.T. [Greatest of All Time] trophy proudly for the next year,” said Ryan.  

He added that the prizes for the week were “due to the generosity of local businesses and those who completed challenges to gather more.”

A number of the videos that staff created in response to the challenges of each day are posted on Norwood School’s Facebook page, along with photos.

More information about NEA’s teacher appreciation week and other efforts can be found at

Community members can also email Neuberger at Norwood School,, to find out how to show appreciation to the NPS staff any time of the year.