Wired for engagement – the Schoolwires blog

Creating K-12 engagement gold by getting social on all fronts

Posted by Debbora Woods on 3/5/15 9:00 AM

SantaAnaUSD

When Deidra Powell, Chief Communications Officer of Santa Ana Unified School District (CA), arrived at the K-12 district in 2012, she immediately noticed an unkempt website, very little electronic communications, no social media presence, and not even informational brochures. She was told by staff that the district had a poor relationship with local media - they viewed it as a "problem district" and gave it negative coverage.

According to Deidra, "People were unaware of the great stories within the walls of our schools."

How would the district make a comeback?

Well, we've got their amazing story! And here's just a few of the great results they're realizing:

  • 80 media partners
  • 200 business partners
  • 2,500+ Facebook fans
  • 660+ Twitter followers
  • 5,000+ parents attending meetings about student success

Want more family engagement in your district? Discover the communications and public relations strategies, tactics, and relationships that turned Santa Ana USD around in their brand new success story -- it's hot off the press and a copy is waiting for you!

Download Santa Ana's story today!

Topics: Community Engagement, Communications


Free webinar: K-12 strategies for boosting school-to-home connections

Posted by Debbora Woods on 8/21/14 8:28 AM

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Join us for the next Parent involvement & community engagement in K-12 webinar!

Wednesday, August 27 at 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Presented by Dr. Jill Gildea, Superintendent of Fremont School District 79 in Illinois.

In this webinar

Engaging parents and boosting school-to-home communication is a priority in Fremont School District 79. And creating the environment that celebrates collaborative practices is central to the district's vision and promotes home-school connections.

In our edWeb community's next webinar, Dr. Jill Gildea will share how they've implemented best practices in K-12 parent communications for future-ready schools. She will also address the challenges and hurdles to effective parent engagement via communication strategies, as well as juggling the many demands of preparing today's child for tomorrow's world.

Learn about the four strategies Fremont has in place for building their Home/School Partnership:

  1. Implement proactive programs to foster positive interactions with parents.
  2. Offer opportunities to become involved.
  3. Inform parents of classroom management and instructional activities.
  4. Make accommodations to meet the needs of families of diverse backgrounds.

You will also receive tested tips and tactics that work -- that you can use right away! Attendees will be able to ask Dr. Gildea questions and participate in polls during this interactive session.

This is an event you don't want to miss -- Register today!

Topics: K-12, School-to-Home Communication, Community Engagement, Communications


K-12 communications: Keeping the focus on positive storytelling

Posted by Debbora Woods on 8/5/14 9:00 AM

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Guest Blogger: Bernie Rhinerson, Education Marketing Consultant

This summer more than 600 K-12 communications professionals from across the country gathered at the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) conference in Baltimore. There were common themes that recurred in the many sessions that ranged from crisis communications, parent engagement, new technologies, and mobile communications. But it was the theme of storytelling that seemed to rise to the top of most discussions.

District and school communicators work hard to focus on the positive by sharing the upbeat stories that occur everyday. Storytelling—sharing encouraging stories about students, teachers, and programs—is the best way to build connections with parents and school communities and build support for public education.

Unfortunately, K-12 communicators are often overwhelmed by negative news and have little time to focus on positive storytelling. All too often the news of the day is dominated by teacher misconduct, union conflicts, student misbehavior, budget cuts, bullying incidents, personnel issues, or the angry parent who complains first to a news reporter. These negative stories can stay in a local news cycle for several days, or longer, and stretch the districts' communications resources thin.

To counteract the media interest in negative news events, K-12 district and school communicators need to strategically focus on a positive storytelling program. With limited time and short-staffing in communications offices, you may find my article helpful: The Three Essential Steps for a Successful Storytelling Program.

Download your free copy today!

Topics: K-12, Communications


What we heard at NSPRA 2014

Posted by Bernie Rhinerson on 7/15/14 2:19 PM

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By Bernie Rhinerson, Public Education Advocate

The Schoolwires team joined hundreds of public school communicators in Baltimore, Maryland this week for the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) Seminar. What did we learn? What was the take away?

We learned that the job of school communications professionals is harder today than ever before. We learned that public education in our country is still misunderstood and sorely in need of more public support.

We learned that school communicators and all of us who are dedicated to public education must come together to tell the positive stories that happen every day in our schools. We learned that we all need to get involved and support national campaigns like Stand Up 4 Public Schools by the National School Boards Association.

We were inspired by the amazing stories being told by schools across the country like the Clovis Unified School District and their Believe video. We were energized by hearing from districts like West Lafayette Community Schools and seeing their national advocacy documentary, Rise Above the Mark.

It was an outstanding experience to spend time with hundreds of professional communicators at NSPRA, professionals dedicated to telling the story of public education. The Schoolwires team is proud to help support the storytelling and the community engagement that will help turn the tide and continue to build support for schools and public education.

CLICK HERE to learn how Schoolwires supports school districts in sharing their success stories.

Topics: K-12, K-12 Education, Community Engagement, Communications


Mobility Series: Part 3 – Don’t Settle When Choosing Engagement Sol'ns

Posted by Debbora Woods on 7/8/14 9:00 AM

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This is the final post on our Noblesville Schools story. We definitely saved the best info for last!

So, did they find that perfect mobility package they needed for K-12 community engagement? We can answer with a resounding, YES! The third website and mobile solution was the charm. Here are just a few of the results the district is ecstatic about:

  • They’ve received numerous compliments on their responsive website
  • Site traffic is averaging nearly 120,000 views per month on the main page – with no stability issues
  • Staff members whose trust and confidence were lost due to past issues from previous providers love how easy it is to manage their content
  • They can proudly say they are among the first in Indiana to have their own school mobile app available on both Apple and Android devices

Noblesville Schools is coming up on their one-year anniversary with Schoolwires. Teachers are sharing content with parents and students through their teacher pages. Students and parents are downloading the mobile app to stay informed and engaged with their schools and the district. And the community comments about how they love the new solutions and how easy it is to find the information they need, when they need it. It just doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

Want to learn more about our “mobility” solutions for your K-12 community? Visit our website today>>

Topics: K-12, Mobile Communications App, Community Engagement, Mobility, Responsive Web Design, Communications


Mobility series: Part 2 – Why mobility is critical to K-12 engagement

Posted by Debbora Woods on 7/3/14 9:00 AM

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In the first post of this series, we covered a few of the challenges Noblesville Schools faced with prior website vendors. Today we’re focusing on the engagement features they required to meet the goals set by leadership.

The district’s vision was that the new website would be the main source of information for the students, parents, staff, and community members – to be the portal to all things Noblesville Schools. That meant it must be:

  • Reliable hosting – operating 24/7
  • Mobile-friendly
  • User-friendly for both website visitors and district content editors

And, since Noblesville Schools is an eLearning and 1:1 district, it was critical that the evaluation committees -- which included teachers, parents, and technology personnel -- searched for a solution that would support all of their goals for engaging students, parents, and the community. That meant the new website must be fully accessible on iOS and Android devices.

It was a large order to fill. There had been a lot of disappointment with the last two website solutions. Would there be a solution provider out there that would answer all their questions, meet their requirements, provide personal attention, and offer a total package that would give the best return on investment? Hmmm, we’ll get to that in our next blog post. But, if you’re like me and like to read the last chapter of a book first, go ahead>>

Topics: Mobile Communications App, Community Engagement, Communications


Mobility Series: Part 1 - Challenges On The Journey

Posted by Debbora Woods on 7/1/14 9:00 AM

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Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Andy Swickheimer, Director of Technology, and Michele Turner, Data Integration Manager, from Noblesville Schools in Indiana. We spoke about the importance of “mobility” – not physical movement, but ensuring web content is mobile device "friendly" for K-12 districts.

The district has been on an interesting journey over the past several years searching for the perfect solution for communications and community engagement. They shared with me the challenges they faced with previous websites – maybe some of these sound too familiar to you?

  • Significant downtime with websites often crashing due to traffic volumes
  • Slow hosting because of hardware and server issues
  • Vendor was bought out by another company that no longer supported their website
  • Unable to translate languages to accommodate the diverse demographics of their community
  • >Website content was text-heavy since systems couldn’t house engaging photo content

Their story doesn’t stop here. They also shared the goals Noblesville leadership has to provide a forward-looking communications and community engagement solution to their K-12 students, parents, and staff. Here’s a sneak peek – there was a focus on mobility, especially since they are an eLearning and 1:1 district. Their goals will be covered in our next blog post, so make sure you come back to learn more!

In the meantime, visit our mobile solutions Web page to learn more about our Mobile Communications App and Responsive Web Designs for K-12 school districts.

Topics: Mobile Communications App, Community Engagement, Mobility, Responsive Web Design, Communications, Website Hosting


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