Remember those days when people joked about the three best reasons to be a teacher were June, July and August?

Now that you’re an administrator, those three words have morphed into these five words to live by: There is no summer vacation.

Why?  Are you “winding up” the school year, or is the school year “winding down?” If both are true, then one action negates the other, meaning that activities continue….and they will. Recruiting efforts, financial aid applications and retention techniques are the main focus through the summer, as well as enrichment classes and revitalization. “Summer vacation” has become oxymoronic. Although we may long for the way things used to be, the only thing that we can count on is change, and we must learn to see change as a blessing. It is only through change that we grow. And if we’re not growing, we’re dying.

So here are a couple of things to consider for summertime growth opportunities:

1) Your Marketing Advantage

If the public schools in your area offer no full-day K program, and your school offers both full and half-day programs, what is your marketing advantage? If the public school only offers half-day, then consider offering only full-day K. When I was in school administration, I heard comments such as, “The children are only here for full-day K, and then they’ll be transferring.” If these words still echo true in your school today, you must make the Kindergarten experience an excellent one for PARENTS of these children. They are a captive audience. Businesses crave a captive audience because it’s easier to retain current customers than to find new ones. If you’ve personally made the comment about the children transferring after Kindergarten, the refer to the previous paragraph about change, and apply it to your current mindset.

2) Invite!

Have your school’s board send an “invitation to apply” letter to families in your parish with five-year olds.

Again – the board sends the invitations…and who doesn’t like to get an invitation?  It’s not a brochure, and it’s not just a letter, it’s an invitation! An invitation presumes something wonderful, exciting and fun!

That’s a great first step…but something’s missing from the process.  Just sending the invitation is an action, but a process has more than one step.  A great next step would be follow-up. The board can send the invitation, but then the school administrator can follow-up with a phone call – or perhaps, a board member could, asking if the parents received the invitation!  If this is done, you’ll more than likely be doing more that about 80% of the schools out there do right now when it comes to following up with parents!  A recent effort by a college to get more people to attend a sporting event was put to the test by a marketing company.  While there were an abundance of season ticket holders, fans rarely showed up.  The marketing firm discovered the most effective way to increase attendance was to ask those season ticket holders if they were planning on coming to the game that they had targeted for their study.  This once again reinforces the concept the “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.”  With SO much happening today, inboxes are now more overflowing than ever, so continuous contact through various channels (such as a mix of email, text messaging and phone calls as a follow-up to direct mail) can provide a more positive result to simply sending something and “hoping” people respond.

Also note that it’s an invitation to apply!  Applications are reviewed since all students may not be accepted.  The faith-based school is a “privileged” environment.  It’s even stated that way in the documents of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education regarding Christian education in the Catholic school:

The Catholic school provides a privileged environment for the complete formation of her members, and that it also provides a highly important service to mankind. (Source:  Accessed 2021.06.07)

And with privileges come responsibilities. so here’s idea number 3 –

3)  Begin a sponsorship program – not just to “help” fund, but to “completely fund” the tuition for a student.  This would be appropriate for parishioners who do not have children in the school, but value the school and the gift it provides to the children of the parish share in the tuition that a parent pays for their child to attend the school.  This type of program can be done anonymously so that the family of the child does not know the identity of their benefactor, but is encouraged to then “go and do likewise” when they are able.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2016-2021.  Original publication date: 20160606