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Mindful Parent to Teacher Communications – Lessons Learned

Sometimes keeping up on school emails, newsletters, permissions slips, activity sign-ups, announcements, and checking data in the online student tracking system, the Parent Portal, can seem a little overwhelming for parents. As a working mom with two active children in two different schools, I often find myself skimming communications from both schools between running from one activity to the next. If I have questions about grades or activities or something that happened at school, I quickly send an email to a teacher.

In the past, a rushed email to a teacher may have come off as impatient or judgmental, when it was more likely just a quick message without much thought put into it at all and sent between a meeting at work, pick up from basketball practice and a grocery store run. I’ve learned over the years to take a few extra moments and slow down and to be more thoughtful in my communications with teachers. I’ve found a few changes in my communication attitude and approach have led to more positive outcomes for my children, their teachers, and me.

Easy ways I’ve found to improve my communications with teachers include: staying positive, checking tone in emails, making appointments, and being open to listening to different perspectives.  

Daniel Patterson is a former teacher and school administrator turned parenting coach. He includes many of the same ideas on how to improve parent-teacher communications in a recent blog post Strategies for Parent-School Communications. Some of Daniel’s key parent-teacher communications strategies include: staying optimistic, respecting hierarchy, making appointments, being direct, considering threats, holding children accountable for their actions.

I’ve tried a few of these strategies over the years and found that every teacher I’ve talked with has the same goals in mind for my children: challenge them to do their best and support them in reaching their full potential.  We can all agree that our great teachers are underpaid for the time and effort they put into their jobs as they meet with parents, plan class time, grade papers and analyze test scores, often outside of school hours. Raising teachers’ salaries and lightening their workload is not something I can do today. However, I’ve learned that just taking a few extra moments and being more mindful in my communications with teachers goes a long way in supporting and respecting their work. 

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How to Successfully Brand Your Business to the K-12 Audience

You may have noticed that lots of stores like Walmart and Target use a very basic technique for reaching kids. They put products at eye level, basically guaranteeing they’re going to be able to reach what they want. As kids get older, they can reach a little higher. So that Playstation video game is a little more expensive the higher in the case it sits. And that toy gets a little more complicated, requiring not 100 but maybe 1000 Lego pieces. Why do they do this?

Consider that the Department of Agriculture finds that cost of raising a child averages out at over $230,000 – and that’s before college. So, there’s clearly a lot at stake tapping into the K-12 demographic.

Beyond putting products at eye level, here’s some easy ways that your sales team can reach students effectively, and very importantly, ethically. 

  • Speak their language: Schools speak a very particular language. They’re the places of homework, tests, and recess. In your promos, play this up in a fun way. “Need a homework break?” Who’d say no to that? Lots of sports camps could call themselves “the ultimate recess.” That’s going to connect with kids in a fun way.
  • Speak their parent’s language: You’ve got to communicate with parents on every level possible. Be transparent about the health and safety of your product or service. If you can’t do that, you’re likely wasting your time and money.
  • Connect with what’s trendy and run kid-centered promotions: Products change fast. Trends don’t. If you can market yourself in trendy, fun way, you’re going to get repeat customers. And remember, a happy parent’s kids are happy. At a restaurant, it doesn’t cost much for kids to eat free, and happy parents can pass that great deal on.
  • Get yourself known in schools Sponsor events if you can. You want to create buzz around your service. Kids can do the branding for you. Are you an ice cream shop? See if you can get an ice-cream social going at school. Are you a food truck? Get yourself involved in field days.
  • Create Original Content Students are more tech savvy every year. They’re going to Google you. Probably run an Instagram search, too. In fact, you want them too – it means you’ve resonated. If you’re coming up with some cool content, that’s going to go a long way in getting them back in.

You can also sponsor a school newsletter with The School Communications Agency. We do the branding for you! Reach out to us – we’d love to hear from you.

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Why It’s More Important Than Ever For Businesses and Schools To Work Together

National and local businesses are among the most untapped school resources. Which is really interesting, because schools are in the business of fostering talented thinkers, innovators, and workers. On the business end, fostering talent at home reduces operational costs. It also helps local companies brand themselves as positive community stakeholders. For schools, creating partnerships with local businesses, from the mom and pop to the large multinational, offers a ton of rewards.

Beyond finances, there are many other ways schools and business can succeed together. When you look at the modern economy, students simply need different skills beyond what a traditional curriculum can take on. They need to understand networking, be adept at communicating strengths, and show technological savvy, among others.

And, critically, they need to have mentors teach them the world they are about to be entering. Businesses can step in and partner with schools, and some are already doing so. There are good ideas, such as internships, already in place. Beyond that, there are two other immediate advantages school/business partnerships can provide.

  1. Business leaders can experience first hand the way rising workers think, react, and generate ideas, because it’s just different. There’s a few other incentives here, too. In addition to lower potential training costs, businesses would also gain key demographic insights. A young entrepreneur could literally change a company’s vision.
  2. Schools can promote their own brand, have channels to grow, and seek vital community involvement. School branding is no longer a passing thought. Schools needs students to pay the bills and get funding. And to succeed. In a fierce educational landscape that includes private, specialized, charter, and public schools, schools have to work extra hard to set themselves apart.

Ultimately, just like schools are in need of sound communication to grow, businesses would hugely profit from interacting more directly with their future workforce. And it’s more than a trend – it’s becoming essential to build the workforce we need.

We are proud to have connected businesses and students together through our sponsor program, and are continuing to develop partnerships within the national education landscape. Thank you for working with us. We look forward to helping even more.

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Newsletters are Great For Efficient Fundraising

Given the overflow of information in our lives, it can be tempting to romanticize about our life before it went digital. Astoundingly, one research firm concluded that on average, Americans interact with their phones over 2,600 times per day. It’s true, digital connections can be as ephemeral as your phone’s news feed, yet we live in a society that is built on digital interactions.

On many levels, it’s impacting how engaged communities perform. High school students on LinkedIn? Check. Teaching middle schoolers how to Tweet. Covered. Getting elementary students to use apps like iMovie? Old hat.

An analog life style, on the other hand, is somewhat of a lost art. So, are local schools a good place to advertise your business through newsletter messaging? The answer seems to be a resounding yes. There are all kinds of signs pointing to a shift back to an analog strategy in the education world, such as using film in photography class. Teaching students to write with pen and paper is suddenly back in vogue. And, incredibly, one of the major reasons for the recent fall in e-book sales is because students want the real thingSociety does, too.

And who can disagree? There’s still nothing like a face-to-face meeting, or nothing quite as good as feeling pages of a book bend in your hand. Or a newsletter to pass around. Our newsletter, vital to the communications of Colorado schools, is distributed with the expressed interest of being passed around, hung with a magnet, highlighted, posted on a bulletin board, and sent in the mail to grandma. Retweet it, you cannot.

For schools, it’s proving to a be a vital communication mechanism. And for sponsors, it’s as highly targeted as you can get. One hundred percent of parents who engage with the TSCA newsletter get access to family friendly, community centric products they need – guaranteed. It’s right in front of them and in their eyes. Compare that to an ad on the internet. That’s a 98 percent higher viewership than effective internet advertising. That’s just another huge reason to go analog. Here are a ton more.

Sponsors, we can work with you on branding your messaging and delivering meaningful results. Schools, we can create easy fundraising ideas and improve parent-teacher communication.  And, if you still do want to go digital, we have an app for that!

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Businesses Can Help Raise Colorado Graduation Rates

Colorado is one of the most desirable states to live and work, but there is ground to make up if it wants to be a leader in education as well. According to a recently published report from the educational alliance, Building A Grad Nation, Colorado is 43rd in the nation in graduation rates. The graduation rate in Colorado dropped to 77.3 percent, while the national average rose overall, to 83.2 percent. That puts Colorado seven percent lower than the national average.

Building a Grad Nation is composed of four major educational organizations devoted to raising graduation rates to 90 percent by 2020. Unfortunately, Colorado’s recent decline is creating an uphill climb for reaching that lofty goal, particularly among diverse and lower socio-economic populations. Despite an overall uptick in graduation rates, a gap between the graduation rates of white students and minority students is only widening in Colorado and elsewhere. According to the report, 82.6 percent of white Colorado students graduated, compared to 69.9 percent for black/African American students, and just 67.6 percent for Hispanic/Latino students. Even greater is the gap between income levels, with students being labeled as “low income” graduating at a rate of 53.8 percent, while students of ”non-low income” status graduate at a 33 percent higher rate.

Though these statistics are not the best news, there are a number of states who might offer a case study on how to reverse the trend in Colorado. For instance, California has seen its graduation rate increase seven years in a row. An initiative that California has introduced includes focusing support to diverse learners, who are all graduating at a higher rate than they are in Colorado and in keeping better pace with changing demographics.

There are a number of reasons why the graduation rate is of importance. However, the bottom line is that having more high school graduates and introducing programs that support graduation are an economic boon to states, towns, and communities. According to a 2016 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time workers age 25 and older without a high school diploma earned $9620 less in median earnings than those who had one.

Building strong academic communities takes, as they say, a village. Teachers, parents, and the local community all play a role. Business, too, create an important partnership, fostering much-needed opportunities for funding. In return, businesses gain important brand recognition. There are several examples that highlight this win-win proposition for all involved. One of my favorites from the article is the simple task of a local business providing a school its awards for student achievement, taking less off the teacher’s plate so they can focus on teaching.

The fact is, the School Communications Agency takes it a step further. You can support future graduates by working with The School Communications Agency, which gives 50 percent of its revenue right back to schools. We partner with family friendly, community oriented businesses who want to improve parent/school communication, reduce school staff workload and help raise money. Our schools cover a diverse demographic spectrum, including districts with high median household incomes as well as schools with historically lower incomes. Your business’ sponsorship in the form of an advertisement in the schools’ monthly newsletters reaches an ideal demographic of parents of K-12 students while providing the schools with much needed funding. Remember, while 100% of your investment helps improve parent/school communication, a full fifty percent goes directly to schools in the form of a cash donation. Be part of the solution and join our select group of family friendly businesses today.

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Your School Newsletter Is a Great Source for Fund Raising

Your school newsletter is a great way to improve communications, engage parents and create a more informed and involved community willing to contribute to the success of your school. The School Communications Agency has been working with Colorado Schools for over 5 years now and has helped schools raise close to $1 million dollars. That’s $1 million dollars for schools to use in any way they want that would not have otherwise been available to them.  Our goal is to reach over $5 million raised for Colorado schools in the next 3 years.

We can turn your school newsletter (or use the TSCA Free App instead) into a consistent and reliable source of funds. We build a three-pronged structure of support between The School, The Parents and Community Sponsors who are family friendly, highly rated, community oriented companies that want to be involved in school success.

Our process to engage schools, parents and the community is simple and involves helping schools in the following 3 ways:

  1. Improve Your Newsletter by ensuring (a) higher quality content; (b) better, easy to read layouts; (c) consistent, regular publication, and (d) expanded distribution
  2. Gain More Parent Engagement by creating a communications strategy that gets parents the information that they want
  3. Building on the community of support by creating a win/win situation that brings in new sponsors interested in helping school succeed but who are also interested in communicating directly to your parent community

Whether you are a school, a PTA or PTO, or family friendly community centric business, be a part of our success and contact The School Communications Agency today. https://theschoolcommunicationsagency.com/contact/

 

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Building Community and Improving Education

 

With the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary the question of how best to keep our schools strong (and improve those that are struggling) is the subject of much debate. And while The School Communications Agency does not take sides in the political argument, it seems clear that the future will continue to involve a mix of public, private and charter programs. However, the core of the discussion should include the need to build the communities that support our schools through better parent and business engagement, regardless of which of the three arenas are involved.

In an NEA Policy Brief, entitled “Parent, Family, Community Involvement in Education”  NEA President Dennis Van Roekel states that “Parents, families, educators and communities—there’s no better partnership to assure that all students pre-K- to high school—have the support and resources they need to succeed in school and in life.” And he goes on to say:

“In addition to the vital role that parents and family members play in a child’s education, the broader community too has a responsibility to assure high-quality education for all students.”

Community is defined as not only parents, teachers, administrators but also the vital businesses that provide support and role models for eventual success. When businesses support schools, both the schools and the businesses succeed.

NEA states that Parent, family, and the business community’s involvement in education correlates with higher academic performance and school improvement. When schools, parents, families, and communities (businesses) work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher level programs.

And, as this article from Education World shows, the businesses involved do better as well: School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools of All Sizes .

This concept of community and business engagement is further supported in separately published research noted in the NEA brief where Joyce Epstein of Johns Hopkins University, described six types of involvement— parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community— for schools, families, and communities to engage all parties and help meet student needs.

The NEA Policy Brief concludes by providing a list of the top 10 ways to succeed at building a community that improves education. Among the top 10 ways, communications and community involvement are highlighted:

  1. Ensure timely access to information, using effective communications tools that address various family structures and are translated into languages that parents/families understand.
  2. Develop an outreach strategy to inform families, businesses, and the community (businesses) about school and family involvement opportunities, policies, and programs.

At The School Communications Agency, we connect schools with the community to make sure that great communications happen. Our goal is three fold: 1) Engage Parents; 2) Provide financial support to schools, and 3) Help business that support schools reach the right audience and grow their businesses.

We love this goal and like talking to teachers, administrators, parents and businesses about your ideas on how the make strong schools through strong, engaged communities. Contact me at Jerry@tscaschools.com or our community engagement leader at Doug@tscaschools.com.

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Get To Know The School Communications Agency

With 167 schools, 135,000 engaged parents and over $750,000 already given back to schools, The School Communications Agency’s (TSCA) mission is to engage parents and sponsors with quality content through multiple channels delivered how they want it (mobile, paper, email, etc.), plus provide funding that respects the unique needs of each school community. Our goal: Improved Communications, engaged parents, better schools.

What makes TSCA a unique organization is our Three-Fold Impact: 1) Engaged Parents – leading to better, more effective schools, happy teachers and successful students; 2) Funds Raised– that go directly to the school outside of traditional budgets thus providing discretionary funds to meet the most pressing needs identified by the PTA/PTO or school; and 3) Business Growth – that increases the impact and significance of our mission for both schools and investors. As we grow, our impact grows.

School Engagement: TSCA is the perfect impact investment. For every $100,000 invested we add over 100 schools and donate at least $150,000 more per year to education. But this is more than a play for school funding; it is a mission to create better schools through higher levels of parent engagement. When we add 100 schools we impact at least 50,000 students and engage nearly 100,000 parents!

Growth Record: TSCA has been operating since 2013 as a small regional company in northern Colorado. The current management team acquired that business in 2016 and expanded into four new territories: Texas, California, Florida and Missouri.  In 2017 we anticipate growing to 500 schools and providing an additional $1 Million in annual funding support for our client schools.

The Future: Our goal is to sign up 13,000 schools, creating a community of 6 million parents and sponsors generating $20 million in school funding and $50 million in revenue.

Our Team: The TSCA management team of proven entrepreneurs has strong experience in growing companies, selling media advertising and developing high volume production environments.

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How to Have a Great School Newsletter

When writing a school newsletter, the word “purpose” plays a significant role.* Many have alluded to the idea that parent newsletters are only sent out to inform the community. While that statement resides true, a successful parent newsletter also consists of three further main components.  These are:

  • Logistics
  • Achievement
  • distribution methods.

 

Logistics

The logistics in a newsletter is “the spark”. It’s what makes each one stand out so the reader is drawn to the content.  The purposeful information needs to be conveyed in an informative, eye catching manner. Using components like color, graphics, and purposeful headers in the format design of the layout is important.

Also, it is important to remember that when information is structured into long extensive paragraphs, often the attention of the reader is lost.  Keeping important content short and concise is the best way to engage the reader.

At The School Communications Agency, we publish school newsletters with both of these logistical basics in mind, allowing maximum readership potential.

 

Achievement

Schools thrive on achievement, so why not flaunt it? Many parents that read school newsletters want to hear about success factors that are happening in the school they support. These achievements can include:

  • Student awards
  • Teacher achievements
  • Classroom projects
  • Extra curricular activities

Adding an achievement section is a small aspect that can help unite the community and create a positive outlook on your school.  The School Communications Agency will be sure to include your school achievements it in your newsletter.

 

Distribution Methods

Not every school can be successful using the same method of distribution of newsletter information. Some schools find parents requesting old-fashioned paper newsletters while others want the more modern methods of electronic distribution like emails, posting on the website and having a mobile ready app.

The School Communications Agency provides a template that is printable and mobile ready allowing schools to cater their newsletter to the demands of parents which helps increase reading rates.

The School Communications Agency works hand in hand with your school to achieve each of these components into all school newsletters thereby improving parent readership and providing important information to the community.

 

https://theschoolcommunicationsagency.com or call (970) 239-1641 to learn more.

 

*Ref: “The Magic behind a Good School Newsletter.” School Communication and Leadership.

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This Barber Gets Kids to Read*

Children 12 and under who visit The Fuller Cut in Ypsilanti, Michigan, get a $2 discount on their haircut for doing a simple task: reading to the barber. CBS News reports that owner Alexander Fuller and barber Ryan Griffin started the reading program more than a year ago.

“‘We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Fuller explained. “When it gets busy people take notice—parents are really receptive of it; they love it.’

“Fuller and his wife started ordering some books and Griffin brought in a shelf. Customers even joined the cause by donating old and used books. Before the pair knew it, kids were grabbing books off the shelf and hopping into the chair to start reading.

“‘It gives them confidence in reading and helps us understand their comprehension of reading,’ Fuller said. ‘The kids love it. It’s one of the best things that has come along for them.'”

(* Re-printed from Exchange-Every-Day: https://www.childcareexchange.com/faqs/exchange-every-day/)

The School Communications Agency helps schools raise money from newsletter publishing. Contact us to see how:

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