Principals use video to communicate with parents.

First slide

When it comes to parents getting the skinny on what’s going on in their children’s school, times are changing. It used to be as easy as slipping a piece of paper into a backpack. But according to Renee White, coordinator of enrollment, management and marketing for the diocesan Office of Catholic Schools, the dawn of email has changed the game and schools are responding.

 

“This is all in an effort to communicate that Catholic schools are joyful places, and you can definitely see that in the videos hitting the internet and social media,” Renee White, coordinator of enrollment, management and marketing for the Office of Catholic Schools

 “I think people don’t read the same way they used to. Email has changed that. It has forced us to skim,” said White. “When they do that, they tend to miss out on large chunks of information.”

 

Instead of focusing on how to revamp the weekly newsletters most schools send out, White encouraged them to up their game.

 

At last year’s principals’ meeting, she challenged them to make videos to communicate with parents, alumni and other stakeholders. “I asked them, who do you want to thank, what do you want to highlight?” she said.

 

While many principals jumped on the idea, there were six that really took off, such as Dave Conroy at All Saints School in Manassas; Mary Kelly at Nativity School in Burke; Frank Nicely, former principal at St. William of York School in Stafford; Mary Baldwin at St. Andrew School in Clifton; Angela Rowley at St. Ambrose School in Annandale; and Joseph McLaughlin at St. Timothy School in Chantilly.

 

Principal McLaughlin found some innovative ways to communicate that went beyond White’s expectations. Over the past year, his Tuesday Tidbits has delivered messages to parents in weekly videos, announcing everything from the need for volunteers, to the school’s new bus, to the appointment of Bishop Michael F. Burbidge to the Diocese of Arlington.

 

“Parents like the new messages, especially since many of them find it hard to read large blocks of texts on their smart phones while waiting for their kids in the car line,” said McLaughlin. “Kelly Schmank, director of marketing and development, is the creative force behind the videos, and assistant principal Michael Pryor knows how to use the green screen.”

 

In the early videos, McLaughlin appears in different parts of the school — on top of playground equipment or surrounded by students reciting a living rosary in the gym. But thanks to the green screen, he’s broadcast from Rome and the moon. In one video, McLaughlin led a parade in New York City to celebrate a chess club victory. The videos will continue this year. He’s already introduced new teachers to the community.

 

As elaborate as the videos may seem, the St. Timothy team does everything they can to streamline production. “It’s a one-take wonder,” said McLaughlin. “We film and produce it and publish it all in the same day.”

 

According to White, many of the principals, once they set up a routine, find it a useful tool for breaking news or to promote the school.

 

While the videos are great, White admitted that not everyone wants another reason to spend time on their smart phones. Some parents and alumni might prefer a paper newsletter.

 

“Our parent groups, alumni groups and stakeholders are used to different forms of technology and we need to be conscious of how the message needs to be framed,” said White. “This is all in an effort to communicate that Catholic schools are joyful places, and you can definitely see that in the videos hitting the internet and social media.”

The videos can be seen on the following YouTube accounts

AcademicDeanMartin   

and

StTimothySchoolVA

 

 

 

 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017