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The ABC List:
A Public Relations Tool
That's as Simple as A-B-C


Have you been looking for a quick and easy way to promote your school's finest qualities and its best ways for the community to get involved? South Carolina principal Ann Mohr has an idea for you, and it all begins with the alphabet! Included: Six simple steps to creating an ABC list that your school can use to draw in the community.

"I feel that every school needs to invite the wider community into its environment," principal Ann Mohr told Education World. "One way to do that is to proudly proclaim what is good and exciting about the education process."

For Mohr, "proclaiming" the best features of Buena Vista Elementary in Greer, South Carolina, is as simple as A-B-C -- sharing an ABC listing of the school's strengths on its Web site. The ABC's of Buena Vista: Achieving, Building, Creating is a takeoff on the school's current overall theme ABC's for a better tomorrow: achieving, building, creating.

Ann Mohr's ABCs
For Creating ABC Lists

Principal Ann Mohr of Buena Vista Elementary School in Greer, South Carolina, offers tips for anyone who might be interested in creating an ABC list for their school. See those tips at the bottom of this article.

"I saw the listing as a great way to let parents and the community know all the wonderful things that happen at our school that help prepare students for a better tomorrow," explained Mohr. "Because we are in close proximity to the national headquarters of large corporations, we have a very diverse school population. We have many families who are interested in moving to the area and actually school shop. This was a convenient way to inform others."


In establishing the ABC list, Mohr targeted the entire community. Her goal was for the page to serve as a piece of the school's wider communication plan -- to communicate effectively, concisely, and continuously. The list includes items from "Accelerated Reader" to "Volunteer Teas" with short descriptions. Mohr used brainstorming to identify all of the school activities that allow students, parents, and the community to become involved.

Once the list had been generated, it was passed to an intern from a local technology school who was completing a practicum assignment at Buena Vista. The intern worked with Buena Vista's instructional coach to design the page, and the coach maintains it with the help of the school webmaster.

Join the Discussion

Has your school gotten some good planned or unexpected PR? Join the discussion so other principals and schools might benefit from your experience.

One item from the list of which Mohr is particularly proud is Buena Vista's focus on goal-setting and regular evaluation through Baldrige in Education. The Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the Carolina First Center for Excellence have partnered with school to bring this program to its teachers and students. Another list favorite is the Children's Chat.

"The Children's Chat has been fun to implement," Mohr reported. "I ask the student council members a monthly question, and they poll the student body for responses. Then I meet with a small number of the students who are chosen to participate by random sampling to discuss the results of the student poll. Hopefully, this process will make a marked difference in our school culture and will allow students a voice in building their school environment."


The ABCs page has only been active for one semester. It is a small but very informative aspect of the Buena Vista Elementary Web site that offers a snapshot of student activities. So far, the feedback Mohr has received has been very positive. It has garnered responses from families moving from England, Australia, and Germany.

ABCs for Students, Too!

Creating an ABC list to convey the stellar facets of your school isn't an activity reserved for grown-ups! Students can get involved by designing an ABC book about your school for new students and parents. This versatile school project can take many forms and can even become a school-wide effort.

The "snapshot" points out the school's services, activities, programs, unique celebrations, special events, and more. As a sample from the Buena Vista ABC list, Mohr shared the following entries that appear under the letter "S."

  • Safety Patrol -- Selected fifth-grade students perform many valuable safety duties. Students load and unload cars each morning, take care of flag duties, and monitor hallway traffic during dismissal times. The students are nominated during their fourth-grade year and are trained at the end of that year.
  • Skating Night -- Fifth-grade students participate in a fun skate once a month. Families and friends are invited to come out and enjoy a night of fun and exercise.
  • School Improvement Council -- Our SIC is made up of teachers, parents, and administrators who meet monthly to discuss ways to improve the school.
  • Special Needs Resource -- A resource teacher is provided for students with special learning needs. Students go to the resource teacher during the day for individualized help and instruction.
  • Speech Therapist -- Two full-time speech therapists are available to assist students with speech/language issues. Our therapists meet with students in small groups to provide assistance with articulation and language development.
  • Spring Swap Day -- In the spring, students in kindergarten and first grade "swap" classes. First graders go back to their old kindergarten classes for a day of reminiscing, and kindergarten students go to a first-grade classroom to find out what their next year will be like.
  • Student Council -- Our students have a voice in the decisions of their school through the Student Council. Classrooms elect a classroom representative as their voice in student government. Student Council meets once a month to bring important information to the attention of the administration. Student Council completes monthly service-learning projects.

Although Mohr has not published the exact ABC list in other formats, segments of it appear in her annual report to the community and the school brochure as exemplary "attributes." The list is also part of the school portfolio, and it will be a resource for a writing team that prepares a school improvement plan. The team will use this list to determine which strategies or activities to continue, change, or delete as action steps are designed for future goals. It will be helpful as well when the school applies for grants or awards.

"There is too much negative press about the state of education today," said Mohr. "This is but a small way to let others hear about the positives."

Ann Mohr's ABCs for Creating ABC Lists

Designing an ABC list to share as part of your school Web site -- or to publish in a brochure or newsletter -- is truly a simple task. Here is a short how-to based on Ann Mohr's experience.

Audience -- Determine the target audience for your list. It may include students, teachers, parents, businesses, and the wider community.

Brainstorm -- Gather materials and generate a master list of the school's activities that promote community involvement.

Categorize -- Revise and group the list, and then alphabetize it.

Discuss (and Delete) -- Share the list with staff members, and welcome their input. Correct and delete entries as needed.

Expert -- If you aren't a techie, seek the help of an expert -- even a student or intern -- who can publish your list as a Web page or brochure.

Future -- Update the list to reflect new activities and those that have been eliminated, and share it with prospective students, parents, and the community.