Q: Even as the new school year is well underway, how can we make sure that new staff members feel fully integrated into our community?
A: Integrating new staff and faculty to Jewish day schools is almost akin to welcoming a new member of the family. It is not too late to smooth out the transition for newcomers.
- Give a “Welcome to our School” gift bag. In it, make sure to have a staff shirt, staff badge, school “swag” such as pens, notebooks or mugs, a gift card for the local coffee shop and last year’s yearbook—great for looking up names and photos. This can come from the head of school or from a welcome committee of colleagues.
- Match new staff members with a buddy—not necessarily a mentor, but someone they know they can go to with the “little” questions. Make sure they have that person’s schedule and contact information.
- As part of orientation, in addition to the general school information and HR necessities, make sure the simple stuff is included. Just like a student on the first day of school, adults want to fit in too! Where do they eat lunch? What can they bring for lunch? Where do they make copies? What should they wear (be specific)? What does a “spirit” day mean for staff? Who do they ask if they don’t understand something about a tradition, holiday, or religious practice?
- Mark the transition with “A Ritual for Welcoming Teachers to Jewish Day Schools,” composed by Rabbi Jill Hammer.
- Show them you care. Make time on your calendar to check in within the first two weeks of school. This is beyond a hello in the hall, but a scheduled time to sit and really hear how they are. Follow up with a sweet note letting them know how happy you are that they are a part of your school family.
- Colleagues can make a welcome poster, with pictures and some personal information, of all of the peers they will be working with. This is a great way to bring someone into the family.
- Peers should be sure to make the new teacher or staff member feel comfortable in those first staff meetings and to include them in any social or committee activity they can be a part of.
In the comments below, please add your own tips for integrating staff into your school community.