Keys to Community Engagement
KEY 5: Tell Your School’s Story
Community engagement allows for your school’s story to be told in relevant ways. Two aspects are involved. The first involves communicating your school’s needs. Capture your community’s attention through relaying honest stories about teaching, learning and community relationships. Use relevant facts, figures and pictures strategically to move audiences toward increased awareness and interest in your NLC.
The second aspect to telling your school’s story involves getting the word out about what’s working at your NLC. Take the time to submit a story or picture to your local paper concerning the family dinner or dance, or the latest gymnastics class being offered at your facility. Everyone wants to share in the excitement of what’s working, and they will be especially excited once they become aware of what’s happening at your NLC.
NLC personnel see dozens of examples of what schools are doing right. Unfortunately, these steady, everyday accomplishments seldom make front-page news. Publicising a few concise stories or pictures can offer a comfortable and effective way for school leaders to bolster their school’s image, build understanding, find out what the community wants and obtain their help. Even NLC leaders who are hesitant to engage in public relations work find it easy to tell others about the students and programs they care about. Use examples to encourage public conversations about how community partners can benefit from being housed in schools.
Data presented to community audiences should be pertinent and easy to understand. Use school data to enhance the community’s appreciation of what is working and areas that need support. Schools have a lot of data available to them that NLC leaders should present in meaningful ways. Data should be used to foster appreciation and spread information concerning enriching school-community connections.