Small Things Count
By Steve Baughman | Principal—Indiana Academy
Hosting events open to the public is a critical part of a school's overall program. Of course, the school should focus on high-quality, well-prepared programming. Still, a program's impact and overall success extend far beyond the final product being presented. A school administrator should focus as much on the "unspoken" elements of a program as they do on the content of the program itself.
Any time you invite individuals onto your campus, you send a message about your school and the school's mission that extends beyond the program's content....
Details such as landscaping, welcoming décor, entryway artwork, clean bathrooms, and any other often overlooked things all testify to the quality of the overall school program. In reality, these items are often the details that make the biggest impression on people. For example, if you eat at a five-star restaurant and eat the best meal of your life but then find no toilet paper in the bathroom, I would venture to guess it would significantly alter your impression of the experience. The same goes for school events.
Further, I would suggest that these seemingly small details are the exact details that influence the perceptions of our program for all our daily stakeholders (students, parents, and even staff). Therefore, paying close attention to these details should not be reserved for just "public" events. Just like a student knows when a teacher is being insincere the moment a classroom observation begins, and suddenly classroom policies are being enforced that have been ignored the rest of the year, our students also pick up on when we try to "impress" our visitors rather than maintaining a consistent expectation on campus.
Ultimately, while coordinating, preparing, and executing high-quality "public" events is critical, I believe that the small details leave as much of an impact on the overall experience of our guests and visitors as the programming itself. I would encourage all school administrators to walk their campus and enter their building with the eyes of a new visitor deciding if this place is a place that cares for their students and pays attention to the small things.
What if public events were run to engage the community by showing the stakeholders that they are loved and appreciated by the school?
When schools and boards review the position of "Development Director," it is often followed with the word fundraising. Yet, too often, school communities view the role of engaging with the public as simply a financial opportunity. This was the challenge Forest Lake Education Center (FLEC) faced when looking to reboot the Development Director position some years back. A small leadership group debated how to engage the community, through large and small public events, for the whole community's benefit. The creative solution that the team landed on changed the rules of engagement at the large PK-8 school.
Refocused Purpose for Public Events
By Josh Stafford and Chris Juhl
Historically, schools do public events solely as a fundraiser or as an event to raise the awareness of the school's stakeholders to the needs of the school. FLEC's new Advancement and Engagement Director, Josh Stafford, turned this concept on its head. What if, Josh said, we did events to thank our community instead of doing events that raised money or awareness? For example, a Grandparent's Day, when the school shows love to an integral section of the school family often overlooked. The school created bonding events to engage the community by showing appreciation for being part of the school family. Think of the concept.
Instead of doing a car wash to raise a few dollars from the same folks that always give to the school, run a free car wash to show the community that the school cares. A night out at the local Mexican restaurant where the restaurant gives 20% to a class? Instead, the school asks the restaurant to provide 20% off the bill to the family that attends. What if public events were run to engage the community by showing the stakeholders that they are loved and appreciated by the school? No more begging for money at a music concert. No more magazine or candy bar fundraisers. Public events run from the angle of what the school can give rather than what the school can take. It's, well, Christian. The fear? I won't get funds if I don't run a fundraising event. The actual results, though, could be an appreciative school community that now wants to be part of a culture of giving.
Advancement and Engagement Director—Forest Lake Education Center
MISSION: STRENGTHENING ADVENTIST EDUCATION ONE LEADER AT A TIME
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Vice President for Education
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