Allerton Hill Blog

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Monthly Archives: June 2016

Are Letters to the Editor Still Important?

June 24, 2016

When advising schools on how to garner support for a campaign, we often include a bullet point that advises to encourage letters to the editor. Yes, even in this age of memes and Tweets and email newsletters, a letter to the editor is still an important tool to establish and grow support.

Why are Letters to the Editor relevant?

• Politicians and community leaders use letters to the editor as a gauge of community opinion.

• A letter to the editor will put a name to an issue and make it more personal.

• The length of a letter to the editor — typically around 150 words — allows you to expound on the finer points of a campaign or opinion, especially when compared to the 140-character limit of a tweet.

• A letter to the editor encourages your local paper to write more about a particular topic because you’ve demonstrated community interest.

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Posted in Campaigns, Community Outreach
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Storytelling

Storytelling for Schools / Allerton Hill Consulting for Better School Communications

June 22, 2016

Articulating ideas effectively is crucial to the success of a school district in any capacity. However, many districts’ communication strategies struggle to reach the public. Rhetorical experts suggest that traditional strategies of facts followed by statistics have become outdated and end up falling silent to today’s audiences. So how can a school district be more engaging? Well, audiences have always learned lessons the best when they come in the form of a story. Storytelling is now being utilized by politicians, city leaders, and the like to better articulate new ideas, grab the attention of their public, and appeal to their emotions.

Turning basic data into a story allows school districts an avenue to relay information in a more interesting and detailed way. With an influx of information coming from new technology and more districts vying for attention, its necessary to present ideas using a more gripping and impressive method. By telling these ideas through stories, a district is more likely to gain support from staff, students, parents, and the public. This is especially effective when the stories themselves relate to the audience. For example, parents and students are likely to be moved by the story of a student who went through the school district them self; the public may be more moved to vote in support of a levy if they see the story of how improving the school district has benefitted the community before.

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Posted in Community Outreach
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Educating the Community on Tax Increases

Educating the Community on Tax Increases / Strategies for School Communications / Allerton Hill Consulting

June 21, 2016

Like any business, school districts witness periods when operating costs increase or revenues decline, and in these moments it may become necessary to request a larger share of property taxes. However, as a business that receives funding from property taxes, schools face certain responsibilities to the public when these events occur.

When the need for a tax increase arises, it’s important that the school district communicate the details – or the “who, what, where, when, and why” – of the property tax assessment and school financing, as well as the allocation of the increased funding, with the public who will be effected. This explanation could even be included in the property tax bills where the increase is seen. Regardless, giving property owners advance notice of an increase, along with the rhyme or reason behind it, will minimize the risk of negative reactions and ensure better cooperation from the community.

Most taxpayers appreciate at least a brief discussion of a school budget: where school revenue is coming from, how the funds are allocated, a key list of expenses, and what strategies have been employed to manage these costs. Furthermore, comparing the school budget to that of another school helps clarify any discrepancies that may exist.

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Posted in Budget & Finance, Community Outreach

From the Podcast: Developing Leaders in Our Schools

June 21, 2016

Today’s show concerns traits and tools for successful school leadership. Our guest is Dr. Denver Fowler, professor at the University of Mississippi, who has served as a coach, teacher, athletic director and administrator in P­12 settings for over a decade. He was named the 2015 State Assistant Principal of the Year in the state of Ohio and nominated for the National Assistant Principal of the Year. His research interests include ethics, leadership and research on the superintendency.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Leadership, Podcast
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Communicating Confidence

June 17, 2016

When a crisis occurs in a school district, it is essential that calm be restored as quickly as possible.  That happens more easily if stakeholders have confidence in school leadership. However, that confidence must be present not only after a crisis has been resolved, but also before and during a crisis. It can be built and reinforced through a targeted communications strategy.

The first step is to determine whether your district has a “confidence gap.”  A simple survey of students, staff, parents and the community will determine whether your stakeholders believe your district can handle a crisis. Note that a crisis can range from a disabled furnace during a cold snap or an expensive lawsuit, to school violence or an unexpected death.  Each requires a unique set of leadership skills.  Any survey must account for that.

While your public may believe the district can repair a furnace, for example, they may not agree that the district is capable of handling school violence.  Use the information collected from the survey to develop a communications plan for building, reinforcing, or restoring confidence.  Special attention should be given to those areas in which stakeholders have the least confidence.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Education, Policy, Social Media
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How to Increase Collaboration and Build Consensus In Your School

June 15, 2016

Today’s show talks about how to run a meeting and build buy in/collaboration among stakeholders. Our guest is Dr. Jenny Hooie, from Dynamix, a company that works to help organizations improve their workflow and navigate change. With Jenny, Carole explores how school districts and school leaders can create the best opportunities to collaborate.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Podcast
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From the Podcast: How To Get Your Child & YOU Ready for College

June 6, 2016

Today’s show touches on the personal side of planning for college and the complicated landscape for parents and children. Our guest is Elizabeth Probst, who founded “At the Core”, a company that works to serve students as they prepare to make the very important decisions that surround their transition from high school to the future.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Podcast
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10 Ways to Make Mentoring Work

June 3, 2016

“We know that new teachers who feel supported and successful are much more likely to remain in teaching and to positively affect students’ lives. When we hire new teachers, we have a choice: We can train and support them so that they stay and thrive, or we can let them fend for themselves so that they leave or struggle to survive. The choice is obvious. Our students deserve to be in the hands of competent, capable, caring, well-trained professionals. And it is our job, as educators, to provide every student with just that type of teacher.”

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Posted in Community Outreach

Mentorships for Success

June 1, 2016

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, “A guidance counselor in an average American school is responsible for over 470 students, significantly higher than the 250-student maximum recommended by The American School Counselor Association.”

So how can schools ensure that students aren’t falling through the cracks when the budget just won’t allow for more counseling staff? Mentorships are a proven valuable asset for providing one-on-one encouragement, advise and aspirational guidance.

Mentoring.org boasts that at-risk youth who are paired with a mentor are:
55% more likely to enroll in college.
78% more likely to volunteer regularly.
130% more likely to hold leadership positions.

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Posted in Community Outreach
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