Have you ever had a visitor or a new parent to your school ask you about the history of your school? Or the learning programs in place at your school? When that happened to me several times at one school where I served as the principal, I decided it was time to create a "school profile" brochure.
I figured most corporations have sales brochures that serve as a professional tool for promoting the company's history, goals, products, and results... so why shouldn't my school boast of its history, its stats and awards, its connections to the community, and our visions and goals?
Once I decided that a "sales brochure" was a viable idea, my first step was to gather information about the school's history. After gathering details from people familiar with them, I wrote four or five short paragraphs that contained important and interesting facts.
But what else would I include in the brochure? I brainstormed some thoughts and came up with a list of ideas. Once I had my ideas on paper, I created a rough layout. The ideas I had would, I thought, fit nicely into and 8-1/2 x 11-inch tri-fold brochure. On the outside of the brochure, we could present
The inside of the brochure would include
Next, I met with the secretary to discuss the process of developing the brochure. Most of today's commercial word processing programs make developing such a brochure much easier than it was in the past. Years ago, we did a lot of manual "cutting and pasting." Today, the hardest part of the process is making certain the information in each of the six panels is laid out properly for folding.
Of course we wanted to make a favorable first impression. So, to achieve a first-class look, we planned to have our brochure printed by a commercial printer on glossy paper. Headlines and text were printed in our school's colors.
When the brochure was set to go to the printer, I estimated the number of copies needed to share with visitors to our school, including parents who were relocating to the school's neighborhood. Copies also were allotted for members of the school family, the superintendent, school board members, school business partners, real estate offices, and others. It was not long after the printing, though, that we had handed out all our brochures. I had to have more printed. I learned from my first brochure experience that I would have saved money if I had doubled our initial order.
Some of my principal colleagues also developed school profile brochures. A few of them asked me about allowing a sponsor to add information to the brochure in exchange for covering the printing costs. That could be an option for you, but I preferred not to do that. However, if your decision comes down to having a sponsor or not doing a brochure, I would definitely go with the sponsor.
I have always looked at school brochures as works in progress. During the school year, as new potential items identified themselves for inclusion, I made note of them. At the end of each school year we reviewed and updated the information in our brochure and sought new suggestions and ideas from our school family. For example, if I was revising a brochure today I would be sure to mention the school's grade (based on the students' standardized test results) and note whether the school had made Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). In addition, I would also include information about how many teachers have achieved National Board Certification. Parents and others appreciate knowing those kinds of details about a school.
If I were still an active principal, a brochure would definitely be one key element of my school-community relations plan. You should consider an easily prepared -- and creative -- brochure as part of your plan too.
Article by George Pawlas
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