This is the second in a series of three Marketing Matters designed to help build and strengthen the community known as your school. When we consider “faith-based” schools today, many call themselves “family” – but please allow me to be so bold as to say that such a marketing term may not bring to mind a positive image for many parents of young children today.

Some of today’s families are not necessarily places of love, respect, discipline and all that the word “home” is “supposed” to bring to mind. For a number of today’s young parents, “home” is an outdated ideal. Some of those young parents couldn’t wait to leave home – and since experience more or less dictates actualization, they may not be creating the ideal “home” for their children.

But the good news is that there ARE families in our schools that are strong exemplars of love and support. Consider asking one of these families to be a mentor to a new family that’s thinking about enrolling their child in your school, or, at this point in time, one of your new families. The mentor family can give the potential or new family a phone call and leave a message that says that they’re are praying for them, and if they have any concerns, they can call the mentor family. These mentor families are the ambassadors of your school and all that it aspires to be.

When most people join an established organization, they are overwhelmed with the amount of work involved, the commitment level expected, and the dedication necessary to the organization.  The same is true of your school, since all these things are needed to create an outstanding educational experience for those your school serves.

Here’s a personal example from the time when my wife and I were asked to be part of the local Catholic Engaged Encounter ministry which prepared couples for marriage in the Catholic church.

We had experienced one of these weekends as part of our preparation for the sacrament of Matrimony (it’s not “just” a marriage – but that’s a topic for a different day…and a different forum).  While we felt honored, we were taken aback by what was expected of us – prepare 8 talks, have them reviewed by another couple so that they can be critiqued according to the nationally-approved outline, and continue that process until they received approval, be available to present four weekends per year, meeting with the other couple that would be presenting the weekend to plan the presentations, attend a monthly community meeting where news regarding the ministry would be shared, and commit to supporting the ministry. Needless to say, it took over our lives for a number of years, and the amount of work that was involved at the start was significant.  However, we began receiving phone calls from our “support couple,” who gave us another contact point into the community, in addition to the couple that talked to us about becoming involved in the first place. They became good friends, and our involvement in the community grew, instead of causing potential isolation as “the new couple.”

The other aspect of a mentor family is that it is a family mentor. It’s an opportunity to evangelize and model what a family needs to be….especially today, as we see more and more examples of what it means to “not” be united as a family, a community and even as a nation.  As St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.”  People learn by example.  Our schools need to be communities of that teach not only excellence, but hospitality and care, as well as formation of the person in faith, hope and love.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2007-2022 (Original Publication Date: 20070820)