Last week I saw the BEST idea from Derby Public Schools on Twitter and couldn’t wait to create back-to-school signs using this year’s Brenham ISD theme “Great Things Happen Here.” Canva is my absolute favorite quick and easy design tool, so it was perfect for this project. It only took a few minutes to search for some ideas on Google, find the right elements in Canva and download in both PDF and PNG format. I can’t wait to see these signs and big smiles on social media on the first day of school!
Here’s a Canva bonus! I saw a flyer like this from another school (wish I could remember which one for credit!) and recreated it in Canva. It’s a fun, simple back-to-school flyer with wonderful information for parents.
A couple of weeks ago my new NSPRA pal Sabrina Kapp shared a GREAT idea for a back to school “Top 10” for parents to prepare for the new year. Admittedly, hers were a lot cuter than mine, but in a pinch (and to make them shareable for you!) Google Drawings worked just fine. Feel free to File > Make a Copy to create your own versions!
2019-2020 Brenham ISD Top 10 Back-to-School Parent Tips (posted on social media in reverse order!)
Remember that students quickly learn and adapt to their new settings, and we have wonderful staff to help them every step of the way! Don’t worry – they’re in good hands! #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
The first day of classes is Wednesday, August 14! Every minute counts, even in the first days of school, so please plan ahead and make sure you’re on time. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Pick-up and drop-off always takes a little longer the first few days of school. Please be patient with staff, students and other parents. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Routines matter! Start adjusting sleep schedules now, a few minutes at a time, for an easy transition back to those early mornings. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Our cafeterias serve healthy breakfast and lunch choices daily. Don’t forget to add money to your child’s lunch account here: brenham.healtheliving.net. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Download our mobile app for all of the latest news and information. Look for Brenham Public Schools in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Mark your calendars for our campus open house events! New student orientation for parents of all kindergarten through fourth-grade students will be held on Thursday, August 1 from 6-7pm at all elementary campuses. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Make sure your child clearly understands your family’s system for transportation to and from school. You can sign up for bus transportation here: http://www.brenhamisd.net/page/trans.busreg. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Need after school care for your K-6th grader? Brenham ISD has a BRAND NEW after school program, Club Zenith. Register today at http://www.zenithlearning.org. #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Find everything you need for back-to-school, including school supplies, on our district website under Parent Resources. Have questions? Give us a call at 979-277-3700! #IChooseBrenham #GreatThingsBrenham
Today was THE BEST day! Today all of my Brenham ISD “frens” came back! Although I love the summer for strategic planning and catching up, it’s just too quiet. I always feel like a little kid on the first day of school when convocation rolls around. 🙂 It’s like a family reunion!
We had an OUTSTANDING speaker who I highly recommend if you’re looking for someone engaging and funny with a CRYSTAL clear message that this is more than a job, it’s more than a paycheck, it’s a calling. He is a wonderful mix of magic and illusions with stories that will hit you right in the heart. And he’s from Austin, Texas, so he’s right in our backyard! Click here to learn more about Billy Riggs.
After lunch I presented the 3 sessions below (click the links to access the Google presos, File > Make a Copy to create your own version!). I am so grateful to each of you who attended and added to the conversations. You filled up my bucket today and I can’t wait for day 2 tomorrow!
Each of us has a brand, whether we consciously shape it or allow others to do it for us. You may not be intentionally building your brand, but every post you make and hand you shake conveys your identity and communicates the value you offer. Come explore some easy steps to define, build and manage your brand. It’s time to get brandED!
Shonda Rhimes, creator of popular TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, committed to a “year of yes” to get out of her comfort zone and find a balance between career and family. Come hear her Ted Talk story and join in a discussion about how you can say yes more often to stay energized and satisfied at work and at home.
Effective communication is one of your most powerful tools. In an educational environment it is important to get it right – both externally with students and parents and internally with colleagues. Come learn how to engage in the two-way communication process, build effective listening skills, and break down barriers to effective communication.
A while back I saw a clip of The Ellen DeGeneres Show where Ellen played Never Have I Ever with Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany. It was hilarious! (You can watch it here.) I thought – HEY, that would be a fun icebreaker to do with district leaders!
I can tell you now, from personal experience, that it is a MOST ENJOYABLE icebreaker to do with your staff or team! I can’t remember the last time we all laughed that hard! In fact, those paddles were held up long after the icebreaker was over in support or denial of statements throughout our leadership retreat, eliciting further chuckles.
This is nothing groundbreaking or particularly creative, but I am sharing the questions I asked and a printable PDF of the I Have / I Have Never cards in case you need something fun to do with your staff to kick off the year. It is super easy – I just printed the cards on cardstock, then folded them over, cut them in half and glued a popsicle stick in the middle.
Never Have I Ever Questions
Worn two different shoes to work
Fallen asleep at my desk
Laughed at a student’s inappropriate joke
Taken work home that never made it out of the car
Yelled at my computer screen
Fallen in the hallway of my school or building
Cleaned my desk by piling everything into one stack
Dozed off during professional development
Rolled down the hallway in my office chair
Played on my phone while trying to look like I am doing something important
I started and stopped this post several times because I don’t really know how to do justice to my first NSPRA Seminar experience with mere words. How do I write a feeling? How do I adequately convey the true impact of building new relationships? My school PR bucket is full and I can’t wait to get back and start planning for the new school year! The day before I left for Washington, D.C. I cleared off the “Dreaming-Doing-Done” board in my office. It will no doubt be full of new ideas very soon!
I am so grateful to each person I met over the last 5 days. I loved the New Professionals Pre-Seminar. It was comforting to be in a room with other new school PR practitioners, soaking up knowledge from two veteran PR pros (thank you Susan and Chris!). Although I am entering my fourth year in school PR, I walked away from that experience with a wealth of ideas and a renewed focus. My biggest takeaway was utilizing RACE / R-PIE in all communication efforts. One of my goals this year is to focus on the research step before diving into implementation.
To the AWESOME #k12prchat family, THANK YOU for welcoming me with open arms and thank you for the Chatty Award! I distinctly remember my mouth falling wide open when Cathy called my name. I did not see that coming AT ALL! I love my hashtag, #jumpin. You all have made it easy for me to jump into the chat and into the group. I am constantly learning from and with you and I am so grateful.
Having presented at conferences in the past, I fully understand the preparation and hard work that are required to plan and deliver quality content. My sincere thanks to those of you who presented at the NSPRA Seminar. I took 10 pages of notes! Your willingness to share your vast expertise and experiences will make me a stronger resource for my district. I am better because of you!
For those of you who may be reading this but were unable to attend the NSPRA Seminar, please feel free to peruse my notes below. I have also included links to notes I have taken at past TSPRA conferences. I hope you are able to fill up your PR bucket with some new ideas, tips, or tricks. #sharingiscaring #bettertogether 🙂
Safe travels to all who are heading back home from Washington, D.C. and thank you, again, to the NSPRA scholarship committee for giving me an opportunity to learn from the best in the nation. I am hooked and I will find a way to see you all next year in St. Louis!
First of all, I want to thank the NSPRA scholarship committee again for awarding me the Armistead New Professional Scholarship, making it possible for me to attend my first national school PR seminar! The scholarship provided my seminar registration, along with registration for NSPRA’s New Professionals Pre-Seminar Workshop, which started yesterday. By lunchtime yesterday, my bucket was already full! SO many great tips and ideas shared about research, strategic planning, and developing key messages. A big thanks to Susan Brott and Chris Tennill for hosting this awesome learning opportunity.
Every time I attend a conference, I share my live notes for others to follow along. I am a nerdy note taker, but I using Google Docs allows me to go back and search through all of my conference archives when I’m looking for “that” idea. 🙂
I was recently contacted by a newly hired school PR professional who is building a brand new PR program in her district. Having done that very thing 3 years ago, I was happy to offer my input and share my resources. With the help of MANY veteran school PR pros (thank you CASPRA, TSPRA, and NSPRA!), I’ve filled my toolbox and developed some documents that anyone can use to get a school PR program off the ground. I’m so happy to share those documents with you!
Please feel free to make copies of any of these documents and use them to develop your school PR program or share them with someone who can benefit! They’re all in Google Doc format, so you just have to go to File > Make a Copy to create your own version. Sharing is caring! We’re better together! 🙂
Annual School PR Tasks Checklist– I find that having a sort of “dashboard” for my annual and monthly tasks is helpful for big picture planning, prioritizing and making sure nothing slips through the cracks.
Branding and Style Guide– I looked at dozens of style guides, some simple and some very in depth, before developing this one for our district. I settled on a simple and straightforward version, leaving room for the addition of details in the future, if needed.
Communications Scorecard – each month I send this communications scorecard to my superintendent and our board of trustees. This is a great way for me to analyze our content and locate trends, as well as illustrate our growth and top efforts.
Stay Connected with our ISD – this is a great publication for parents and the community to see all of the many ways they can stay connected with your schools!
In addition to the documents above, I also want to offer two presentations that I shared at TSPRA last year that may also be of interest/help. One contains ways in which we have engaged various stakeholder groups and the other is a presentation I also use internally to start a dialogue about branding and public education.
If you’re a one man schoolPR shop, you know how important it is to find ways to work smarter, not harder. One of the easiest ways to do that is to collaborate with key staff members who can help you develop great content. Share the love, right?!
Last summer I developed this Google Sheet and employed the help of our district content specialists, instructional specialists and instructional technology specialists to plan social media content for the summer using the themes below. (I try to update the themes regularly, so you’ll see different hashtags in the document linked above.) It was awesome to have a diverse range of posts and it really made my job a lot easier to have quality, targeted content ready to go.
Stay in School Sunday
It’s no secret that I love all things Google, so a Google Sheet felt like the obvious choice for this task. Plus, it’s so easy to give access to staff who can help me and I know the document is always live and up-to-date. I even built in a little character counter to keep our posts “Twitter friendly.” It’s simple and basic, but it works!!
Do you have a social media content planner that is working for you? Share it in the comments below!
I have an awesome superintendent who totally understands the power of a handwritten note and he LOVES Bitmoji! Seeing as I aspire to only communicate with Bitmojis, I have had a blast putting these postcards together for multiple occasions. Staff members and students LOVE to receive these, and they are so easy to make using Canva.
I love sharing documents on this blog that you can use, so I took this concept to Google Slides so you can make a copy and create your own customized 4×6 Bitmoji postcards. Click here for the slides (go to File > Make a Copy to create your own!).
And just for kicks, I’m also including an easy-to-use format for thank you cards that we love. Print these front-to-back and cut into thirds and they fit right into a standard envelope. These are great for students, parents, volunteers, donors, and everyone in between. You can switch out the stock pictures with pictures of your events, campuses, and programs. Click here to get the cards (go to File > Make a Copy to create your own!).
Each summer I share this document with our campus and district administrators in an effort to keep them informed and help them communicate better with me and with the media. Although many of these tips and guidelines may seem like common knowledge to us, staff members outside of the school PR world need these reminders each year.