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One-Hour Workshops: Communications and Advancement Track

Designed for heads and trustees as well as communication and advancement practitioners, these workshops address what it takes to ensure effective communication to — and relations with — all key constituencies.​​​​​​​​​

  • Block 1 (Thursday, February 25, 8:00 - 9:00 AM)
    • Beyond the Myth of Saving Kids: Telling the True Value of Scholarship

      2002

      For too long in our fundraising and promotional efforts we have relied on the core myth of schools saving kids. This “us helping them” message can have a divisive and toxic effect on schoolhouse culture. Come hear one school’s efforts to change the story of scholarship - to claim the true impact that a diverse student body has on our community and educational mission.
      Presented ByErik Wilker and Elizabeth Grumbach, Moses Brown School (RI)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreHow can you tell a better scholarship story - one that creates equitable footing for all students in your school? Which tools are most effective in helping your school community embrace the elevating contributions of a diverse student body? How can your school avoid the dangerous pitfalls that can arise when talking about the relationship between diversity and scholarship?
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    • Collaborating with Public Schools on a Common Vision

      2003

      Independent schools and public schools often have the desire to collaborate but many times those efforts end in frustration. During this engaging and thought-provoking session led by Ken Kay, chief executive officer for EdLeader21, learn how independent and public school districts are working together on building a common vision of 21st century education.
      Presented ByKen Kay and Jon Gundry, EdLeader21 (AZ), Josh Brody, Sequoyah School (CA); Brett Jacobsen, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School (GA); Marsha Little, The Lovett School (GA)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreHow can independent and public schools work together? Why is a common vision so powerful in independent/public school cooperation? What are concrete areas where independent/public schools can cooperate? Why is this independent/public school cooperation so powerful?
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    • It Ain't the 90s Anymore! Understanding and Communicating International Trend Data

      2024

      In the late ‘90s, it was impossible to believe it would be difficult to enroll Korean students, or that Chinese students would soon comprise the majority of schools’ international enrollments. Better prepare to understand enrollment challenges related to the STEEP factors (social, technological, economic, environmental, and political) over which you have no control. Join us for a discussion of trends, opportunities and challenges.
      Presented ByAimee Gruber, Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB) and Francis Ryan, Rumsey Hall School (CT)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreWhy are all of our international applicants from China? How are today's admission professionals recruiting international students? What does this mean for my school both long and short term?
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    • The Cart Before the Horse: The Story of School (or Program) Creation

      3000

      It’s hard enough to show the value of a program that already exists. How about one that doesn’t? Learn about Beacon Academy’s journey from idea in 2010 to opening in 2014. Be prepared to swap stories about your own struggles and triumphs when trying to bring innovation, program creation, and new concepts to established schools and communities.
      Presented ByKate Anderson, and Jeff Bell, Beacon Academy (IL)
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      LevelIntroductory
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      Explore What are the lessons we can all learn and apply from a founding school story? How do you market and set expectations for a program that doesn’t yet exist? How does this differ for families, donors, banks/lenders, real estate brokers, or the surrounding community? How do you prioritize to focus on attracting and retaining the best teacher talent? What role do autonomy and buy-in play in leadership development in a new school, both at the student and staff/faculty level?
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  • Block 2 (Thursday, February 25, 12:00 - 1:00 PM)
    • Allow Us to Reintroduce Ourselves: Freshly Framing Your Story to Your Market

      2000

      Chances are, your market’s understanding of your school lags far behind your current reality. So how do you get credit for recent strides? Join Patti Crane, president of Crane MetaMarketing, and Sarah Cowan, director of marketing and communications at St. George’s Independent School, to learn how this Memphis treasure retold its compelling story and got its city’s attention.
      Presented ByPatti Crane, Crane MetaMarketing Ltd. and Sarah Cowan, St. George's Independent School (TN)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      Explore How do you authentically and freshly reframe your school’s evolving story to a market inclined to think of your school as it was several iterations in the past? How can your school get credit—in the form of inquiries and applications — for the strides of the past ten, five, or even three years? How can you help your market see you as you are NOW by replacing old assumptions with your new, compelling story?
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    • Inside the Mind of a Major Donor

      2010

      Everybody knows that relationships are the key when it comes to major donor success. However, most fundraisers are missing the boat by not working from the donor's perspective. The workshop will share five insights that will help you cultivate deep and trusting relationships with your biggest donors.
      Presented BySchuyler Lehman, Mission Advancement Professionals (MAP) and Sara Jacobson, Minnehaha Academy (MN)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreWhy should I approach advancement from the donor’s perspective?  How can I take immediate steps to be more donor-centered?  What can I do to exceed the expectations of my major donors?
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    • It’s Not Just Your Story, It’s How You Tell It

      2012

      Waynflete School was coming off the recent recession and needed to rebuild our applicant pool, overcome inaccurate perceptions, and create powerful new messaging materials. We selected a firm steeped in branding education and known for simplifying complex messaging.  Learn how our work with Right Hat - a nationally recognized brand agency - helped us employ practical methods to avoid falling into the “usual” school messaging.
      Presented ByLynne Breen, Waynflete School (ME) and Elonide Semmes, Right Hat
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      LevelIntermediate
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      Explore How do I build in a research phase during a rebrand on a limited budget? How do I create communications materials that cause someone to stop and take notice, who might not otherwise consider an independent school? How do I ensure buy-in and enthusiasm with key stakeholders and convert them into brand ambassadors?
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  • Block 3 (Thursday, February 25, 2:45 - 3:45 PM)
    • Full STEAM Ahead: Donors as Engines of Innovation

      2009

      The US will need one million college grads trained in STEM fields in the next decade. Independent secondary schools have an important role to play in developing innovative thinkers and providing students tools to pursue careers in science, technology, and engineering. Utilizing case studies from current STEM/STEAM capital campaigns, this session will equip attendees to engage donors and take their programs to the next level.
      Presented ByRick Happy and Dennis Collins, CCS; Nancy Kehoe, Lick-Wilmerding High School (CA); Nanci Kauffman, Castilleja School (CA); Rob Lake, Collingwood School (CANADA)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreWhat are donor attitudes and giving trends toward STEM/STEAM programs? What are some unique challenges secondary schools face in messaging the value of their STEM/STEAM programs? How can we ensure new funding opportunities align with our school’s vision and strategic plan? What kind of strategies can we develop to engage donors, prospects, and volunteers to propel our school’s STEM/STEAM programming?
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    • How to Get an “A” in School Board Fundraising

      2016

      Get the training and tools needed to effectively engage your board in its most important challenge: fundraising. Learn how to establish and communicate specific expectations, provide structure and assign responsibilities. Topics covered include: the board development plan, board job descriptions, the role of the development committee, creating sub-committees with specific job descriptions and assignments, and more.
      Presented ByDaniel Neel, The Fundraising Resource Group
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreHow do I effectively communicate specific expectations for board members? How do I provide the appropriate structure and training to empower board members? How do I effectively engage board members to be successful in fundraising for the school?
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  • Block 4 (Friday, February 26, 8:00 - 9:00 AM)
    • Diversity and Inclusion in Independent School Development

      2002

      How can schools maintain a sense of inclusiveness with their development efforts in the face of pressures to bring in philanthropic dollars? Through case studies, participants will gain insight into independent school fundraising and leave with an understanding of how to structure a more inclusive development operation.
      Presented ByTiffani Harris, William Penn Charter School (PA); Alexis Wright, Bank Street School for Children (NY); and David Smith, Allen-Stevenson School (NY)
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      LevelAdvanced
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      Explore How can schools maintain a sense of inclusiveness with their development efforts in the face of pressures to bring in philanthropic dollars? If your goal is to raise money, can you find alternate ways to do this while being inclusive? How can you avoid sensitive issues around race, class, and gender in your fundraising program?
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    • Now, More Than Ever, Schools Need to THINK and ACT Like a Brand.

      2010

      Schools need to think and act like a brand. Now, more than ever, schools must define their brand story and purpose to stand out in an educational environment that is more competitive than ever. Learn from real world examples why answering the question “who are we?” is key to galvanizing everyone at your school, elevating brand recognition and reputation, and providing the foundation for enduring success. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fxmkh58ruf9qt5o/AACFDFfoT9d1p9hSmnryOgyRa?oref=e
      Presented ByBrett Shevack, Brand Initiatives Group and Donna Kennedy, The Gillen Brewer School (NY)
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      LevelAdvanced
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      ExploreWhy, more than ever, do schools need to think and act like a brand? How should schools go about answering the question, “Who are we?”? How can schools activate their brand positioning once they create it?
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    • What Stories Do These Scores Tell?

      3003

      Statistics and storytelling are often thought of as separate and disconnected. This session will explore how to blend statistics and storytelling to create more effective narratives that reach their intended audience(s) on both rational and emotional levels. Participants can expect to see case studies of quantitative data storytelling and insights into how to use quantitative data to develop unique independent school messages.
      Presented ByNick Standlea, Test Prep Gurus; Hector Martinez, The Webb Schools (CA); Alice Cotti, Polytechnic School (CA); Deren Finks, Cranbrook Schools (MI)
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      LevelAdvanced
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      Explore How can independent schools best make use of their institutional data to create unique, one-of-a-kind institutional stories?  How is quantifiable data such as GPA and test scores best supported by qualitative measures such as essays, strength of curriculum, course selection, and letters of recommendation to create powerful student-narratives that positively impact college admissions outcomes? In the landscape of independent schools, what are the short-term and long-term competitive advantages of using hard, quantifiable data to support institutional stories?
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  • Block 5 (Friday, February 26, 11:15 AM - 12:15 PM)
    • Do More with Less: Building Agency (Instead of Just Hiring One)

      2003

      Most schools could never afford an agency-created multi-hundred-thousand-dollar brand program. Even those who can struggle to make the branding stick. Expert educators know: new doing requires new learning (not just “right answers”). Discover how your school, like Allen Academy, can foster campus-wide deep learning, authentic branding, and culture-reinforcing excitement.
      Presented ByTiffany Hendryx, Firebrand for Education, LLC, and Matthew Rush, Allen Academy (TX)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreHow can my school develop and apply guiding principles and concrete tools that can help build a strong brand, make the most of our marketing and communications budget, and “bake in” school-wide alignment, goodwill, and a sense of collaboration with our marketing endeavors? How have other schools done more with less? How can we more effectively communicate our school’s value proposition in everything we do (rather than just apply brand styles to our marketing materials)?
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    • Giving Student Life a Voice While Keeping the Helicopter Grounded

      2008

      Turn the challenge of communicating your school’s student life curriculum into a unique internal and external marketing opportunity! This session will explore the structure and planning necessary to successfully implement a parent-centric communication plan that will both ground your helicopter parents and provide rich, crowd-sourced marketing material from your faculty.
      Presented ByScott Allenby, Proctor Academy (NH) and Travis Warren, WhippleHill Communications
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreHow do you leverage faculty to help tell your student life story? How do you create the internal framework necessary to authentically communicate a student life curriculum? How can you turn internal parent communication into external marketing material?
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      Related Documents
      2016-Warren (PDF, 919 KB)
    • Maneuvering through Milestones: Techniques for Celebrating Major Anniversaries

      2012

      Is there a major anniversary in your school's future? Are you wondering how to pull off a meaningful celebration with a small staff? It can be done! Learn how one elementary school engaged all its constituents in planning and executing a unique and memorable centennial year, and get tips for how you can plan your own celebration.
      Presented ByLaura Falk, Community School (MO) and Mark Palmer, Forsyth Country Day School (NC)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreHow and when should our school begin planning for a major anniversary? What are the best ways to make the anniversary meaningful for all constituencies? How can we integrate the anniversary into ongoing school activities?
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    • Successful Gift Solicitation Strategies: Not Just a Question of Asking

      2022

      A little experience is all you need to learn the positive language and mindset for enjoying gift solicitation and doing it well.  In this session we’ll design a successful solicitation strategy, identify tips and techniques for training trustees and key volunteers, learn how to address donor objections, and work through a case study that provides an opportunity to put theory into practice.
      Presented ByStarr Snead, Advancement Connections and Shelley Reese, The Learning Center for the Deaf (MA)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      Explore What (subtle or not-so-subtle) signals do donors give that help us know how and when and why to ask them for a gift? How do we get to a "yes!" and what happens when we get a "no" after asking for a gift? What roles should volunteers, heads, trustees, and advancement professionals play in the process?
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  • Block 6 (Friday, February 26, 1:30 - 2:30 PM)
    • Communicating in a Catastrophe: Surviving and Thriving in a Crisis

      2000

      Independent schools periodically face cataclysmic events, but your darkest days also offer opportunities to showcase the true character of your community. Discuss the crisis situations you are most likely to experience in the next year. Prepare in advance and learn how to communicate in a way that demonstrates your core values and leadership skills.
      Presented ByJane Hulbert and Jim Hulbert, The Jane Group; Myra McGovern, National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
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      LevelIntroductory
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      ExploreHow can one write a message that sounds authentic and in the voice of the head and not the lawyer, and make sure the message will not get the school sued? How can one write with empathy and integrity? What should every communications director have ready to go in their crisis communications toolkit? How can one craft a message that reflects a school's values?
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    • Getting to Launch: Strategies for a Successful Website Redesign

      2002

      Redesigning your school website can feel daunting, but thorough research and planning can make the process less painful. Superb graphic design, navigation, content, overall user experience – these can mean the difference between a mediocre site and a great one. Meadowbrook took a hands-on approach and got what it wanted. Learn strategies for effective redesign.
      Presented ByIlyssa Frey and Jonathan Schmid, The Meadowbrook School of Weston (MA)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      Explore What steps do you need to take to develop an exceptional school website? Who should be involved in content and design strategy and what can you do to minimize the pitfalls along the way? How do you ensure your site doesn’t look and feel like every other independent school’s?
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    • May Term: An Experiment in Intrapreneurial, Silo-Busting, Mission-Based Storytelling

      2008

      Hear a curricular leader, a technologist, an entrepreneur, a marketing expert, and a social media maven share how they collaborated to paint a new and vibrant picture of senior projects completed during the month of May. Examine our experiences using microsites, social media platforms, and silo-busting innovations to amplify the student voice on the way to telling our school's story.
      Presented ByStephen Valentine, Reshan Richards, Bill Stites, Kim Saunders, and Gretchen Berra, Montclair Kimberley Academy (NJ)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      Explore How can you knock down silos -- between academic departments, technology teams, and marketing teams -- to build collaborative storytelling muscles in your school? How can effective storytelling and marketing not only report on work in schools but also drive it and shape it? How can you use a collaborative process to generate content for stories in the middle of busy school years?
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  • Three-Hour Workshops (Wednesday, Feburary 24, 1:00 - 4:00 PM)
    • W01. Advancement Strategies and Solutions for Small Schools

      2011

      Optional Three-Hour Workshop

      Making small school advancement make sense requires vision, confidence, collaboration, creativity, efficiency, and action plans that are both meaningful and practical. Find out the best ways to combine these elements into a strong and sustainable program for your school.
      Presented ByStarr Snead, Advancement Connections; and Shelley Reese, The Learning Center for the Deaf (MA)
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      LevelIntroductory
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      ExploreHow can you, your head, and your board define success? What are the key tools needed to build and manage a successful advancement program? What measurement tools and benchmarks can be used to measure success? What are the essential elements to building a short-term and long-term plan for your school's advancement efforts?
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    • W12. Grow Agency (Instead of Just Hiring One): A Capacity-Building Brand Workshop

      3001

      Optional Three-Hour Workshop

      Too often even the most expensive agency-created school brand campaigns don’t stick. Why? Expert educators know: New doing requires new thinking, new thinking requires new learning, and new learning can’t be applied from the outside; it must be created from within the school. Learn how to foster deep learning, authentic branding, and culture-reinforcing excitement in your school.
      Presented ByTiffany Hendryx and Lindy Patterson, Firebrand for Education, LLC; Matthew Rush, Allen Academy (TX)
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      LevelIntermediate
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      ExploreHow can my school develop and apply guiding principles and concrete tools that can help build a strong brand, make the most of our marketing and communications budget, and “bake in” school-wide alignment, goodwill, and a sense of collaboration with our marketing endeavors? How have other schools done more with less? How can we more effectively communicate our school’s value proposition in everything we do (rather than just apply brand styles to our marketing materials)?
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