ROUSES POINT - As principal of Rouses Point Elementary, Robb Garrand always looks for ways to bring families and the school closer together.
Recently, Garrand coordinated with Sherry Reinhart, manager of McDonald's Restaurant in Champlain, to do just that.
"I had heard about McDonald's doing partnerships with schools in fundraising, so I got in touch with Sherry, who I knew through coaching and teaching her son," said Garrand.
"When Robb called and said he had heard about McTeacher's Night being done in other stores, I said 'Sure, let's do it,'" said Reinhart, who added she had been looking for the right opportunity to partner with the school.
The two worked together to coordinate a "McTeacher's Night" April 22, in which Rouses Point Elementary staff stepped on the other side of the counter to serve students and their families.
"We've done a little bit of everything working at stations all over," Garrand said as he took a break from cleaning tables that night.
Second grade teacher Wendy Engelbrecht was among staff members getting a crash course on things McDonald's employees do on a daily basis.
"I know how to make salads and how to make a milkshake. I'm learning a whole lot, real fast," Engelbrecht said as she stood behind the counter waiting to grab orders for customers. "The kids are excited to see me here and I'm learning a lot from people who work here. It's been a great night."
"This is very much a relationship-building night, which is very important, because a successful school works well with your families," added Garrand.
Though McTeacher's Night was considered a great way for students and their families to make a connection with teachers, counselors and administrators outside of school, it was also a way to raise money for the school. Ten percent of the proceeds from the two-hour event, which are currently being tabulated, will be presented to the school.
"As McDonald's, we like to do things for the community," said Reinhart, "and if we can help raise money for the school, then that's a good thing." Reinhart said she enjoyed the event so much, she would like to partner with the school again in the fall to hold another McTeacher's Night, and possibly look at establishing it as an annual or biannual event.
"Some of the kids were really surprised to see the teachers behind the counter," she said. "It was really cool."
McTeacher's Night was among several activities the school hosted as part of National TV-Turnoff Week, an annual event which encourages children and their families to find alternatives to watching television for one week in April. According to Garrand, students also participated in a book exchange to promote literacy and a board game night at a local senior housing complex.
"Everything goes hand-in-hand," said Garrand. "Not only do we need the support of our families for events like these, but if we didn't have our staff working beyond their classroom doors, volunteering like this, it would not be possible."