Updated: Mar 6, 2021
Why does your charter school exist?
What was the vision that drove your founders to open your school?
How are you fulfilling your mission?
What does the future look like for your students?
Every school is expected to teach students and to keep them safe. Beyond that simple expectation, what is unique about your school? How are you transforming the lives of your students? What is your promise? Have you kept your promise today?
Your mission statement describes what you intend to do at your school. Your vision statement is your promise for a better future.
As a school leader, you send a message about your school in every communication. Let’s borrow some ideas from the experts in marketing and look at your message with fresh eyes.
A product or service can be explained with four types of descriptions: features, benefits, results, and transformation. This applies to charter schools as well.
A school’s features are the basic details such as:
Mission & vision statement
Curriculum & instructional philosophy
Activities and special programs offered
Location & facility
These are the details anyone can look up on your website. Often, your marketing message starts here. But it’s important not to stop there.
To talk about benefits, you must see your school from the perspective of the student or family.
For example, if a feature of your school is that it serves students in grades K-12, a benefit might be that parents can have one point of contact for all their children throughout their school years.
Your curriculum and instructional approach may be called Core Knowledge or STEM or Montessori, but what does it DO for the students? Does it help develop life-long learners? Does it engage students to explore their passions? Does it provide a solid foundation for success in college and career? These are all possible benefits.
Benefits are a powerful marketing message and some schools do a great job of sharing these details. But again, let’s not stop there. A powerful message will also demonstrate results.
Parents want to know that you can keep your promise. An effective message about results will consider both the features and the benefits of your school, and prove that you are delivering.
Let’s say your charter school is focused on STEM programming, and you offer special courses in these topics. You also offer advanced technology and have highly qualified teachers in these subjects. Great features. What are the benefits? Your students will be prepared for 21st century jobs and may even leave your school with a certificate in related job skills. Good start. Go deeper.
Results are not about how many students took these courses or passed the certification requirements. Results will celebrate how many students actually graduated from college or accepted STEM-related jobs.
There is an important distinction to make between outputs and outcomes. Outputs are measures of program activities (100 students participated). Outcomes are the changes that result from the program (increased matriculation rate). To showcase your results, focus on outcomes, not outputs.
Now for the real question…how are you transforming the lives of your students? If your vision statement is effective, it gives you the roadmap. It tells you what transformation is expected when you fulfill your mission. Are you keeping your promise?
This is the ultimate message you need to share. If you want to build loyal families who will evangelize about your school, create avid wait lists, and use word-of-mouth messaging to recruit new students, focus on the transformation you want to create. Share your vision. Keep your promise.
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