Upon completion of the preschool project (November 10 post) I wondered how a school principal at a public elementary and middle school might handle the challenges of communicating with a large, diverse, and very busy parent and caregiver population. I asked Teresa (Tere) Stoupas, Principal of the Conservatory School @ North Palm Beach.
Part of the school’s mission states, “We seek to empower a diverse range of scholars, artists, and leaders through a unique and rigorous academic and music education.”
CH: Parents are very busy. How often do you, the principal, or administration communicate with families and caregivers?
TS: We use several methods of communication, for example: weekly email blasts to parents and community, monthly e-newsletters, back-pack messages, call out to home/cell phones, Twitter and marquee messages.
CH: About what topics does the school need to communicate with parents and caregivers? Policy changes? Days-off?
TS: School events, policies, calendar, testing, community activities, deadlines, and many subjects.
CH: Do teachers send communications home everyday?
TS: There is a home/school folder in K-2 and a student agenda (composition book) in 3-7. Notes and information from teachers go home in these ways.
CH: What format (media) is the most effective communications tool? Paper notes, text message twitter, facebook, phone robo calls?
TS: A combination of many formats are used to reach out to as many families as possible. Paper messages are also translated into Spanish and Creole as well so that we can get information out to parents who need language translations.
CH: Has the school found any creative ways such as backpack tags or SMS in communicating with parents and caregivers?
TS: We have occasionally used QR codes on materials if that counts!!
CH: Is there anything that you might want to add as a suggestion for optimal parent/school communication?
TS: I recommend that school staff communicate their ideas to each other. Sometimes teachers find new ways to communicate that can ‘catch fire’ on a campus and is quickly shared across grade levels….this is what happened with Shutterfly at our school.
I also recommend a Twitter account for all administrators/teachers. I have a large PLN (personal learning network) that helps me see what other schools and districts are doing. I have hundreds of educators that I learn from which help me keep an open mind and awareness of new opportunities to better connect with parents and community.
CH: I’d like to thank Tere for sharing her knowledge and time. If you would like to follow Tere on Twitter she can be found @stoupasteresa.