Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's your story? Everyone has one.

This is a guest post from Michelle Vroom, a communication specialist who is passionate about cultivating long-lasting relationships. Michelle develops and implements strategic communication plans for various clients including at eSchoolView and provides on-going counsel to ensure efficacy .

Michelle holds a master's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a bachelor of arts from Miami University. Active in the professional PR community, Michelle served as the president of the Ohio chapter of the National School Public Relations Association for two years and on the executive board for several more.

To contact Michelle and learn more about her work, email her at

I was an accidental journalist. I wasnt supposed to end up with that degree or become a reporter but, something shifted my sophomore year in college and I made a connection. I was only taking J121 because I needed a few English credits for my pre-med zoology major and I heard the teacher was good.

Twenty years later, the rest is history. Now, here I am: a #SchoolPR pro and a guest blogger on Fueling Education.

In a nutshell, I worked in print news while I was in grad school (yes, journalism) and for a handful of years after I got my masters degree. My disdain for the “adversity of the daily churn and my affinity for my regular education beat landed me a job in the communication department of a school district I once covered. 

I have worked in some of the smallest and largest districts in Ohio (some of the best performing and some with steep challenges to meet). And, I have loved every minute. Helping schools and districts tell their stories is the best job I have ever had. 

We all have a story It just depends on how well we tell them. My job is to help you find them, then coach you on ways to share.

As educational leaders, the conversations about responsibility and student achievement come easily. There is also a deep understanding of the role strong relationships with students, staff and families play.

But there is more. At a broader level we should all actively work to build the brand of our school and district together precisely because of that whole public accountability piece. As a team, we are the best ambassadors of our work; we are the ones who can make it real and relevant for our community members.

Yet, thats often forgotten at the classroom or building level. It becomes something Central Office does or the chore of an obligatory newsletter thats just one more thing we have to do. The news therein is often a regurgitation of the calendar and not much more.

So, lets flip that. There are so many more opportunities to truly connect with parents and community members with tidbits that are relevant to them.

         1. You do know lists are the new black, right? Use your Facebook page to put lists to work for you. Take a pic, post it along with 5 fast facts. Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?  Can you pass 3 questions on your states assessment?
         2. Connect the Dots! Leverage your social media feeds and embed them in your building websites and classroom pages (its free and easy Google it or send me a note). Help parents feel as if they can live in the moment then capture the action for those who may not be connected through your chosen communication tool. Its also good for posterity sake and accountability. Yeah, we did that Check out our website!! 
         3. Its all in the action. Use the news feed on your buildings website or classroom page to post a video  Write a quick paragraph with 3 or 4 sentences that describe what your students are doing. No dissertations, please. Just quick-hitters. We like to say photos are worth a 1,000 words; videos can be priceless. 
         4. Blog. Encourage your teachers to share classroom blogs with posts written by their children. What better way to help share their voices? Subscribe to blogs for educational professionals and stay on the forefront of innovation.
         5. Pick up the phone. Give parents and community members a call. Take a few minutes to jot down a script and tell them where they can get more information. 

Whatever you do, make it personal, make it fun, make it memorable. Find your story and shout it from the rooftops. We all have something great to share. What are you waiting for?


  1. What am I waiting for? Fair and equitable planning time for these types of additional duties. This article was clearly written by someone who has no experience with the demands of the classroom and the time-intensive commitment that is required to provide excellent pedagogy. Where is the call for support staff to help us with all these extra commitments, and the kind of paid planning time that is available to teachers in other developed nations? The last thing teachers need is more guilt that they aren't doing the impossible.

  2. Thanks for the feedback!

    As I reflect and think of the schools in the system in which I work, and specifically the building in which I am the principal, our/my teachers are passionate about telling their story. They are using Facebook, Twitter, Remind their webpages and more and they take great pride in the connections they make with their stakeholders and the story they are telling. I would say I am fortunate to have that culture in which I work.
    With that, it appears that in your situation you need to have an in-depth conversation with building and district leaders to support the story you want your community to hear and ensure you are supported to do just that.

    Hang in there and keep up the great work! I look forward to reading your blog as well!

    In Education,