Create Compliment Cards to Encourage Staff and Students

A small idea can make a huge impact.

One of the most important tasks of any school leader is creating a culture of joy for their staff and students. When teachers, support staff, and kids feel encouraged and cared for, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. Karen Carroll, a principal in Idalou, Texas, decided to be intentional in creating this culture and started Compliment Cards at her high school. 

What are Compliment Cards?

compliment cards

Principal Carroll put a mailbox on the wall of her school’s main hallway. Next to the mailbox are cards that staff and students can use to anonymously write specific compliments to individuals. Each day, Carroll chooses a couple of cards from the box. She then has recipients of the compliment read their cards on the school video broadcast (if they want to). The whole school then gets to see their friends, peers, and teachers receive compliments from each other. 

Why Compliment Cards can have such a huge impact.

compliment cards

The school slogan at Idalou High School is “Be the good.” Having compliment cards where students can actively encourage and praise each other publicly gives them an opportunity to live this mantra. Carroll says when she started the program, the compliments were often surface-level, and students mainly gave encouragement about someone else’s appearance. However, students soon started going deeper; they started writing about what kind of friend someone is or personal attributes that stand out. 

Once a student who was anonymously complimented for her artwork said, “I didn’t think anyone noticed me until I read that card.” This reaction is essentially the goal of this simple, new program. Carroll says the compliment box exists to brighten someone’s day.

Share with the community.

compliment cards

Principal Carroll posts the videos of students reading their compliment cards to the school Facebook page as well (with student consent, of course). This is just another way to build school culture and invite the community in on the positive climate of the school. One parent commented on one of the videos, “This is why I love our school!”


Encouragement and positivity are contagious. They uplift people and are so vital in creating a strong school culture. Compliment Cards, though small, are an act of kindness that can have a huge impact.

Click the image below for a blank template of the compliment card to use in your school.

compliment card

Join the great conversations going on about school leadership in our Facebook groups at Principal Life and High School Principal Life.

Plus, check out this article about building student ownership of school culture.