• Peggy Downs

School Leaders: How to Write a Bio that Builds Trust

Updated: Aug 24

If you are a school administrator, board member, or nonprofit leader, you have been asked to write a bio for the website. Did anyone give you guidelines for that? If so, you were lucky. Most of the time, someone says, “Just write a paragraph about yourself and send us a picture.” “What picture?” you ask. “Oh, just something recent,” they answer. The school ends up with a page full of bios that feel out of sync with each other, and badly cropped headshots mixed with school portraits. What does this say about your school?


“What picture?” you ask.

Trust = personal skills + expertise

You may dash off your bio and never give it another thought…but people out there are reading it. It becomes your public record, your business card, and your introduction all in one. Who is reading it? The staff page is often the first place parents go when they are checking out a new school. They want to know if they can trust you with their child. They may return to that page later when they have an issue and are deciding if they want to contact you or just complain about the issue in the parking lot. Potential employees are checking you out too. Do they want to work for someone like you? Do you fit their image of a good boss? If you are a board member, your bio sets the tone for the school leadership. Is the school in good hands? Can you be trusted with the important decisions you need to make?


Your bio tells your story. You have about a minute to win trust and demonstrate your credibility. Your bio shows who you are and what you have done. It gives people a reason to trust you.


The Secret Formula

There is a formula to writing a bio that you recognize but probably didn’t know existed. I’m here to let you in on the secret to writing a bio that builds trust.

Grab my FREE pdf to help you plan your bio that builds trust.

Click here to download.

Your bio should be no more than 250 words. You can write your bio in first person (I am…) or third person (He is…), but be consistent across all the bios for your school. This decision should reflect the tone of your school. An elementary school may choose first person, whereas a classical high school may use third person. It is a decision the leadership needs to make.


Start the first paragraph with your first and last name. After that, refer to yourself in the way you would expect students to use your name, such as Ms. Smith or Dr. Jones. The first sentence describes your current job role. If you are relatively new in this role, you may mention your most recent job. This introductory sentence simply shows who you are.


The next few sentences will establish your credibility. You will list your degrees and certifications, your experience, and any important connections. Then you list your most important accomplishments. This shows that you are a “doer” and a “go-getter.” Choose these carefully to showcase your expertise in relation to this job.


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Now you need a sentence that shows your “why”. What is your passion? Are you excited about helping kids go to college? Offering access to an arts or STEM program? Building a school culture that models diversity? This statement of your passion should align with some part of the school’s mission and vision.


Briefly summarize your prior experience and any related connections you may have. For example, you might serve on the board of directors for a local nonprofit or perhaps you volunteer with the Boy Scouts in your free time.


You will want to end the bio with a personal note that gives the reader a sense of who you are outside of your work. Only reveal what you are comfortable sharing and keep in mind who your audience is. A little humor can be appropriate but be sure it works.


Photo Shoot

One last note. While the staff and admin pages generally show photos taken through the school picture program, which at least means they are recent and in the same scale, board bio pictures are sometimes more casual and individual. Take a look at the photos on your board bio page. Do they look like they were taken in different decades? Are they in the same scale and tone or very different? It is worth it to make time for a photo shoot and find a photographer to update your board photos.



Grab my FREE pdf to help you plan your bio that builds trust.

Click here to download.

A Formula for Success

I'd love to see what you do with this. Please comment below and share a link to your bio. If you have suggestions for improvements, please let me know!

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My Mission: to help 100 school leaders write successful grants in the next 5 years, empowering you to create and lead the schools you envision.


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www.peggydowns.com


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