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  • Three and a Half Very Simple Forces Great Principals Use to Promote Their School and Create A Magnetic Reputation

In this post, you’ll discover 3 and a half simple forces that can help you promote your school and create magnetic school reputation. The forces are:

  1. A Culture of Empowerment
  2. Everyone Takes Ownership
  3. Always Ensure Alignment
  4. The Half Power

Before we get into these three simple forces for building a winning school reputation, a quick story.

This article from Principals’ Seminar will share insights to help principals.

A Common Educational Story

Sheila Yancey was in her 3rd year as the principal of Allister High School. For all intents and purposes, Allister was a great high school with a lot to celebrate; yet it seemed like no one outside of the school really knew how good the school was or the great work being accomplished by students and staff. Despite the school’s vision, which clearly identified its role in being responsive to the community, creating global citizens, and exemplifying citizenship, the community wasn’t an integral and engaged part of the school.

“People won’t change the way they talk about schools until we change the way we talk about schools.”

~Dr. Joe Sanfelippo, Superintendent of the Fall Creek School District

Allister is typical of many high schools in Sinnet County and the state–around for decades, educating countless students, the occasional athletic team winning a district championship, a decent reputation, but viewed more as an institutional fixture than a vibrant part of the community. Granted, those that attend Allister are fond of the school, but businesses, legislators, and prospective homeowners don’t realize how good the school really is.

Those that attend Allister are fond of the school, but businesses, legislators, and prospective homeowners don’t realize how good the school really is.

Sheila wanted to change this impression, or lack of one, within the community.

Allister High didn’t have dominant athletics or national acclaim, and it wasn’t nestled in an affluent area with a lot of resources. What Allister did have was a very good school climate with exceptional attendance rates.

This was vastly attributed to their thriving STEAM program that aligned their elective courses to the academic courses. This coordination of classes created a unique learning experience for students that blends theory and action within very relevant coursework.

The program extends beyond the school day and throughout the summer. Student programs range from the Emerging Engineers Academy to the Kids Who Code Club.

The challenge before Sheila was creating viable ways to routinely and consistently celebrate her school’s success.

Her goal was to inform the outside community of what really was going on within the walls of Allister and create a dynamic narrative of the school. This goal wasn’t simply a nice thing to do, but rather a strategic effort to attract more students since school choice was expanding and the recruitment of talented teachers was very competitive.

This goal wasn’t simply a nice thing to do, but rather a strategic effort to attract more students since school choice was expanding and the recruitment of talented teachers was very competitive.

Sheila understood to achieve her goal she needed to leverage three important magnetic reputation forces.

The first force is empowerment. Allister’s professional culture needed to empower people to want to tell their story.

The second force is Ownership. Sheila understood that this needed to be a schoolwide effort so that all teachers took ownership of telling the school’s story. Authenticity would help build a reputation that captured the community’s attention.

And, the third force is alignment. Sheila knew that a solid structure and governing principles must be in place to ensure that this new, concerted effort to share Allister’s story was done well and aligned to the core mission of the school.

Force 1: A Culture of Empowerment

Tell Your Story, Build Your Reputation, and Create a Magnetic Reputation.

Discussing the importance of a school’s culture is nothing new. Most often, principals and school leaders link a positive school culture to teacher morale and student achievement. We steer school culture in an additional direction that places culture within the context of empowerment.

Every teacher and staff member is a potential positive voice for a school. Schools have the ability to develop every person into a communication beacon through a variety of different platforms to highlight and showcase the tremendous learning going on each day. Social media provides the highlight reel to influence the reputation of the school and directly communicate with stakeholders about the learning going on every day.

Force 2: Everyone Takes Ownership

Share Celebrations, Attract Positive Attention, and Create Wonderful Awareness

Once the school builds a culture that empowers teachers to celebrate, the school needs to own that it’s everyone’s responsibility to share their stories. There is no replacement for authentic posts that genuinely describe the learning, care, and growth occurring within schools. These types of social media posts create windows for others to see into their classroom. These messages attract people in an unavoidable magnetic way.

Done consistently and pervasively, the magnetism will become so strong that it goes beyond just those affiliated with the school and starts to penetrate the greater community. It informs business owners, potential families, legislators, and even potential teachers. Education is in a crisis as fewer and fewer people are entering this noble profession. That said, everyone wants to be part of something great, and when schools embrace that they must take ownership of the narrative being told about their schools; greater awareness and appreciation for the school and the profession is bound to occur.

Force 3: Always Ensure Alignment

Create Structure, Be Consistent, and Enjoy Ongoing Success

The last force, which is easily overlooked, builds the structure necessary for consistent messaging that spotlights how the school is achieving its mission. Schools should be cautious of messaging for messaging sake. Schools that build and sustain a magnetic reputation provide teachers with ample training on social media. They establish clear guidelines on how to use social media, outline privacy rules, and create avenues for staff to consistently demonstrate and showcase student success in multiple ways.

The alignment to the central mission of the school creates clarity on what to promote and the successes to acknowledge. Schools that tell their story well support the genuine expression of their teachers. Too often, schools wonder what to post or what to talk about and creating awareness and alignment to the school’s mission makes it much easier to generate content.

The Half Power

Use Students, Turn the Tables, Create Incredible Messages

Schools are notorious for trying to solve problems without effectively engaging students in the process. When it comes to social media and delivering great content, engage the kids! They not only will help build great content, but they will save you an enormous amount of time trying to learn various platforms.

Solidifying a Magnetic Reputation

Sheila recognized the power of these three forces and knew that by using them the greater community would have a better understanding of Allister’s successes and, most importantly, the students.

One word of caution though, it should never be our goal to simply inform the community.

Schools aren’t news stations or Google. The goal is engagement with the community to create incredible opportunities for students.

The goal is engagement with the community to create incredible opportunities for students.

Schools with a magnetic reputation attract terrific teachers, develop meaningful partnerships with higher education, and create boundless opportunities with supporting businesses. What is learned in the classroom is designed to make an impact in the world. Creating avenues of connectedness through empowerment, ownership, and alignment is how it gets done.

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Joe Jones

Superintendent of New Castle County Vo-Tech SD. Former award-winning H.S. Principal. Husband to an incredible 1st grade teacher, & father to 3 amazing boys. Doctoral studies at the University of Delaware with a concentration in Educational Leadership.

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