The Group: Fairview Elementary PTA, Mount Prospect, Ill.

The Setting: The teachers’ lounge, where the PTA planned to give school employees homemade meals to go during Teacher Appreciation Week.

The Idea: Room parents would recruit volunteers to cook all or part of a dinner for teachers and their families. The PTA would pack complete meals (salad, entrée, and dessert) for each faculty and staff member to pick up one day after school, says copresident Lyna Swanson.

What Went Wrong: Parents got confused about what they were supposed to bring; some made a different dish or brought food for the wrong person, while others forgot to prepare anything at all. And because of the chaos in the teachers’ lounge, it took awhile for leaders to realize they had a serious food shortage.

What Happened Next: Parents “started realizing some things were missing or doubled up and had to make a couple of deli runs,” Swanson recalls. “After some scrambling and running to a local deli, every staff member did go home with some food.”

The Outcome: “The teachers were none the wiser, and they thought it was amazing,” says Swanson. But parents had a different opinion. When the idea was presented the following year, everyone yelled “No!”

Prep Courses: The PTA hasn’t given up on showering employees with appreciation, though they have foresworn kitchen duty: “There are other ways to send food to the teachers and staff,” Swanson says. “Hire a caterer!”

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