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The Golden Eagle of Appreciation: What it Means to be a Team

There is no “I” in teamwork. Sure, we’ve all heard that before. It’s cliché. Even my 6th graders – who are learning about clichés and idioms – could tell me that. But, let’s look a little closer: There is a “me.” Isn’t that a little contradictory?

Not at Markham Middle School. The Markham team interprets the “I,” as the individual that appreciates the “me” – me or any other teammate that deserves to be highlighted.

Every day after final circle and announcements, one teammate presents the Golden Eagle, which is Markham’s mascot, to someone else. It starts off with a drum roll, then someone yells, “Now it’s time for the Golden Eagle.” The team members turn their left hand to the palm of their right hand, cross their thumbs and raise their arms to mimic an eagle flying. With a high-pitched yell and always some laughs, everyone chimes in after, “SHINING!”

The teammate that inherits the Golden Eagle from the previous day is the one to pass it onto the next teammate. He or she will give a short presentation about why the next teammate deserves the Golden Eagle and then that teammate passes it along the next day, and so on.

The Golden Eagle to the Markham team represents teamwork, appreciation, encouragement and support. It’s a daily reminder that regardless of how busy, stressful or hard our day has been, our team is behind us every step of the way.

Golden Eagle dedications can be for the smallest action, like a corps member bringing a smile to another’s face from just being energetic in the morning. Or, the hardest, like a corps member having a heart-to-heart discussion with another about the struggles of the day, whether their student got in trouble or just won’t do their work.

The Golden Eagle may have been someone else’s trash – as a corps member found it in a sea of knick-knacks at a swamp meet – but it’s a treasure to the Markham team.

It signifies a team effort because the “I” notices the smallest things the “me” does. The Golden Eagle dedication shows each of us, as an individual, makes up what the Markham team is.
Without the unique gestures or actions a team member does to attract the Golden Eagle, our team wouldn’t be what it is.

Each of us make up a different part of the team – with our strong personalities, strengths and weaknesses – that all come together for the common purpose of giving our students the best school year yet. And that’s why there’s “we” in teamwork at Markham Middle School.

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