Research has proven that recognition of one’s efforts is more highly valued than money. Why should such a valuable tool be limited to the workplace or to a narrow spectrum of high achievers? Imagine the profound effects on an ordinary student who is recognized for simply doing his or her best—an increased level of self-confidence, a sense of accomplishment and respect among the peer group. Such a feeling of accomplishment may carry forward throughout their lives and ultimately improve our world as a whole.
When it comes to academics, it’s customary in our society to recognize the highest achievers: the valedictorian, the class president, the honor student, or the spelling bee champion. Unfortunately, the vast majority of hard-working, well-behaved, industrious students are overlooked. It is important to create recognition programs that honor all types of students, especially those who might not normally receive acknowledgment for their efforts.
Students can be recognized for a number of accomplishments, including improved academic standing, a demonstration of their love of learning, or because they have shown exemplary attitude and behavior. Some will lead by example while others will be determined to learn, no matter the obstacles. School administrators will find great pride in discovering the numerous ways students should be recognized.
Academic awards were created in that spirit, with the hope they would create meaningful moments of recognition that will inspire others and reinforce the behavior that led to the reward. The academic arena offers many opportunities for rewarding students for their efforts, achievements, and contributions to the school and the community.
How to Recognize
Creating a recognition program to honor students for any number of academic achievements is easy when you have buy in from the school. Recognition programs are designed to award all types of students (e.g., honor students, student leaders, most-improved students, those who have contributed greatly to the school).
The Achievement Medallion Award is one type of award that recognizes these types of students. The most important element is to create a program that that will allow the students nominated to receive that important moment of recognition and to fully realize the value of their accomplishments. The following recommendations will contribute greatly to making this a meaningful recognition program:
- Establish rules, which define the theory or conditions of the award.
- Establish selection criteria and procedures.
- Plan the calendar, which specifies the time frame of the awards procedures.
- Determine your budget, which specifies the financial frame of the awards procedures.
- Create a program that allows for the recognition of many—star athlete, most dedicated, most improved, head or assistant coach, team captain, etc.
- Promote the meaning of the award prior to the program and throughout the school year (i.e., what does it mean to be an Achievement Medallion Award recipient?). This will lend credibility and prestige to the award.
- Decide what type of award recipients will receive (e.g., medallions, ribbons, trophies, plaques, certificates).
- Invite the student’s parents or guardians to attend the ceremony. Invite the nominating faculty or athletic staff member to the ceremony to read the nomination of his or her student. Invite team members to the ceremony to support the nominee.
- Award each student with the custom award or a personal note and a copy of the nomination from the faculty or staff member as tangible mementos of their recognition.
- Offer constructive criticism to help refine and improve the program on a yearly basis.