On May 9, the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) hosted the annual Staff Appreciation Lunch in the staff lounge. It treated Gunn administrators and teachers to a restaurant-style lunch, which distinguished this year’s lunch from that of previous years.
According to Staff and Teachers Appreciation Lunch Chairman Rami Madan, the most significant goal of the lunch served to recognize and celebrate the hard work of staff members. “This is an effort to show [tea
chers and staff] that we truly appreciate their work and influence on the students of Palo Alto,” he said. “My main goal is to put a smile on every face. When the teachers leave the lunch with a positive mindset, it will reflect on their students in the classroom, so everyone benefits.”
The luncheon event was sponsored by La Boulange Bakery, Paris Baguette, Four Seasons Hotel, The Menu Restaurant and, for the first time, Pinkberry, as well as many other local businesses. According to Madan, the Pinkberry manager Esther Chun came on board after meeting him when she answered a concern about paper wrap sticking to an ice cream cone.
After consulting Madan, Chun recognized the full magnitude of the lunch and expressed her desire to become the main sponsor. “Esther Chun was busy with work, but realized how much commitment was going in the lunch that she decided to dedicate some of her time to make the lunch an even better experience,” he said. “When it comes down to our teachers being appreciated, almost all restaurants and even franchises volunteer.”
Guests, including Gunn teachers and faculty, Terman staff and Palo Alto Unified School District construction workers, were served freshly cooked fish, chicken or vegetarian dishes. Smoothies and lemonade also complemented the spring theme.
According to Madan, lunches from previous years were bought and served from restaurants, so he wanted to serve staff members homemade recipes to make the experience more appreciative. “We designed the menu to create a special luxury six course, five-star meal with full table service, restaurant style,” he said.
Kitchen supervisor Veronica Arias and 60 parent volunteers worked for over seven hours the day before the lunch to set up the event. Math teacher Cristina Florea believes the diligence and dedication of the volunteers caused the lunch to be an extremely memorable overall experience for the staff members. “The sit-down, restaurant catering contributed to making the whole staff feeling greatly appreciated, and many teachers and I believe this has been one of the best staff lunches ever,” she said. “The atmosphere was very friendly, welcoming and warm because of all of the wonderful volunteers and teachers.”
According to Decorations Manager Nilofer Mukkaram, volunteers were creative even with a limited budget. “Despite a minimum budget for decorations we could make the teachers and counselors feel the appreciation they deserved,” she said. “There was a lot of care and love put into the decorations and food, and teachers even sent us emails explaining their happiness and acknowledgement of our efforts.”