The school year is in full swing!  Remember when September was the month for parent nights so they could visit your school and see what their kids may be experiencing, the first parent-teacher organization meeting, and getting to know more about those new families who have become part of your school community?  Now, in our post-pandemic world, the expectation is that a tour can be accomplished via a video on your school’s Web site.  If it’s an in-person “Come and see” event, it may not be well-attended – and that’s because the vast majority of parents in your school community today are Millennials – and they’re not going to show up when they’re told to show up.

They’re going to show up when it’s most convenient for them to show up!

But as we return to in-person school sessions, you may still be trying to return to “the way you’ve always done” things – like trying to have those parents sign the forms which say they agree to abide by the school’s policies as specified in your school’s handbook – especially if they haven’t signed up for a tuition payment plan yet…so you may not have had time to give serious consideration to the “remarkability” of your school.

This weekend, set aside some time, or maybe right now if you’re having your morning wake-up beverage – but not more than 30 minutes, and jot down those great qualities of your school that you believe make it a remarkable place to be.  Then this week, at your teachers’ meeting, ask your teachers what they think is remarkable about your school.

Your staff too.

And, it would be incredibly beneficial to ask some of the parents of your school community, primarily those who are “raging fan” supporters (in terms of time, talent and treasure) of your school.

In fact, it’s their thoughts that would be most beneficial to this exercise.

Remember to cross out any mentions of academic excellence, faith-based values or safe and caring environment off your list.  Those are important, but they’re expectations of your school.  NOT, in their minds, remarkable and differentiating aspects.

Then, distill those remaining thoughts down into 3 to 5 that make your school REALLY remarkable.

As for comment about expectations in the above paragraph, ask yourself this question: Would you enroll your children in a school that charged tuition if it wasn’t passionate about its faith identity, children performed at or below their grade level peers, and bullying was rampant?

Therefore, concentrate on those things that set you apart from every other school in your area…things that nobody else does, or something that no other school has!

But do it this month – you’ll take those ideas to help create a marketing plan in order for you to build enrollment.  A tool which will let you do that will be discussed next week.

As you can see, in only a few short weeks, we’ve moved from strategic planning to marketing and will be moving on to enrollment.

You can’t simply work on one aspect of advancement and then move on to the next when the first one is done.

The fact is that it’s never done.

Advancement is a living system, and what happens in one area (a child is disenrolled) affects another (tuition may rise, a future alum is lost, and a parent is disenfranchised).

And notice the 3-headed monster effect that occurs.

One action just doesn’t lead to one consequence…it leads to 3 or more!  The fruits of advancement are reaped by those with the patience to plan their work and work their plan to create the system, then persevere with the discipline provided by practicing the system, even during the most difficult times.

In fact, this is something that will be a part of the next evolution of SchoolAdvancement.  In a nutshell, it will help you create the system.  Creating the system is significantly different from the way training is presented today.


According to recent brain research, “The Forgetting Curve” is the culprit.  24 hours after a training session (think of it as a class), students (whether children or adult) forget 70% of the material that was presented (Source:  That’s why spaced repetition is so important, and andragogy (how adults learn) is different from pedagogy (how children learn).

Therefore, training must be constantly reinforced, especially with the plethora of media and communication we’re exposed to today.  To quote the writer, Samuel Johnson, “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.”

Systems, on the other hand, require disciplined practice.  All elements of the system need to work together to create a desired result.  The better the elements are designed, and the better they’re integrated with each other, the better the emergent property will be.  Many people have stated in their trainings, “Trust the process.”  Unfortunately, that’s one of the things that keeps us from succeeding, since there may be a roadblock that occurs, and there is no potential detour to continue moving forward since there are always unintended consequences which result from intentional actions.

Rather than “Trust the process,” a better approach is to “Understand the system.”

If you’re still struggling to find something that absolutely NO other school has that yours does, I can name one remarkable thing about your school, and guarantee that no other school in the area has what you have.  in fact, no other school in the country, or even in the world, has what your school has!  If you’d like to know what that is, send an email to [email protected] with the phrase “So what makes my school distinctively remarkable” in the subject line.

The email you’ll get in return is the shortest email response I’ll ever send…only two words.

When you read them, see how they make you feel.  That will go a long way in determining your planning to advance your school toward the vision you have created for it.

If you can’t articulate a vision for your school, that’s really job one.  Remember, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else” (attributed to Yogi Berra as well as several other authors).  As Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2006-2023.