You Will Want Another Child So She Can Go to School Here

“Come Visit. You Will Want Another Child Just So She Can Go to School Here.”

“Come Visit. You Will Want Another Child Just So She Can Go to School Here.”

The upcoming April issue of NSPRA’s PRinicpal Communicator carries the above quote from Darcy Whitehead, principal of Mary G. Porter Traditional School in Prince William County,Virginia.

Darcy hits a bulls-eye with her quote and that quote could even be turned into a slogan or tagline for her school and school districts everywhere. The rest of us come with up taglines like, World-class education, Shaping the world one student at a time, or First Class Achievement for First Class Students. But Darcy’s statement strikes an emotional and light-hearted chord because it recognizes that all parents want the very best for their kids. And she does it in a way that even challenges parents to see her school for themselves. Urging parents to have another child also triggered a smirk on my face, but after just topping off two complete college tuitions, my wife and I are poised for some other less-expensive adventures!

Compete or Not to Compete

The April PRincipal Communicator is about marketing your individual school at a time when competition from private schools, charters, net-driven home schoolers, and open-enrollment public school programs are all knocking on our parents’ doors. Capturing new students at the kindergarten level can translate into more than $75,000 per child if you track state funding of $6,000 per student for 13 years. The flip side is that $75,000 is what you potentially lose if new students choose another school or transfer from yours.

Often principals are frustrated because they know that their staff and programs match up and usually are more comprehensive in their offerings than their competition. Parents are often lured by the newest school or by the promise of individual attention. When one of our sons was making the transition from middle to high school, I guess I became a “mystery shopper” by attending a private school’s open house to see how it was handled.

Say That Again?

 Before a packed setting, the headmaster of this very fine school noted that every child meets with an adult teacher or counselor every day for 5 to 10 minutes to “check in” on their well being. I watched other prospective parents relishing that type of individual attention. But, on the tour that followed the presentation, I asked our bright and articulate student guide about the 5-10 minute individual counseling time. He gave me a puzzled look and said he was not aware of it. I asked, “Do you have any 5- to 10-minute unstructured time with a teacher other than lunch in your day?” We both concluded that the headmaster was only talking about the school-wide home room period each day. Yes, I guess that time could be used for individual counseling, but we all know that the percentage of that happening every day was very low.

So we need to help all of our principals improve their open houses and share with them what their competition is saying about their own schools. We need to learn about the timing of open houses and just not offer them months after the private school recruitment period. We must play more aggressive offense when we talk about the caring and comprehensive programs we offer.

Competition will only continue to grow. Your marketing, communication, and engagement efforts must grow to meet the demands of the competition.

Start your own See for Yourself marketing efforts and more of your parents may recognize what a great bargain and comprehensive program you offer.

Rich Bagin, APR

NSPRA Executive Director

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One Comment on “You Will Want Another Child So She Can Go to School Here”

  1. I came across this article about the perfect school tour a few days ago and only wish that every principal, school office specialist, and school PR pro would read it and follow it:

    The simple concepts of feeling welcome and comfortable can go a long way during a school tour or open house.

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