Our students’ experiences are the heart and soul of every educational institution. They embody the successes, challenges, and growth that happen within our school walls every single day. As superintendents and school business officials, it’s our responsibility to convey these stories to our school boards to provide a clear and powerful understanding of our school’s operations and student life.
Here’s how to craft and present these narratives effectively.
1. Understand Your Audience
Remember that school board members are not just officials; they’re also parents, community members, and taxpayers. Frame your stories in ways that resonate with their diverse roles and interests.
2. Gather the Right Data
Raw data is the backbone of any good story:
Academic Performance: Share test scores, graduation rates, and other measurable indicators.
Extra-curricular Success: Highlight achievements in arts, sports, and clubs.
Student and Parent Feedback: Incorporate testimonials, survey results, and personal stories.
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3. Personalize the Numbers
Numbers alone don’t convey emotion. Use real-life examples to give context:
Instead of just quoting a graduation rate, share a touching story of a student who overcame obstacles to graduate.
Instead of merely stating the number of students involved in after-school programs, describe a particular event or showcase a project that had a profound impact.
4. Use Visuals
A well-designed infographic or slideshow can make your presentation more engaging. Consider:
Pie charts for budget breakdowns.
Before-and-after photos of facility improvements.
Short video clips showcasing student achievements or interviews.
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5. Highlight Solutions, Not Just Challenges
It’s essential to address challenges, but don’t forget to emphasize solutions:
Pie charts for budget breakdowns.
If you’re facing budget shortfalls, present potential strategies to address them.
If there’s been a dip in test scores in certain subjects, outline the new teaching strategies or resources being implemented.
6. Encourage Student Participation
Invite students to the board meeting to share their experiences firsthand. Whether they showcase a project, perform a musical piece, or simply share their story, their voices provide authenticity that can’t be replicated.
7. Keep It Concise
While it’s important to be comprehensive, respect the board’s time. Organize your data and stories in a way that’s clear, concise, and compelling. Use bullet points, visuals, and structured sections to make your presentation easy to follow.
8. Foster Open Dialogue
After your presentation, open the floor for questions. This not only shows transparency but also allows board members to dive deeper into areas of interest.
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9. Offer Follow-Up
Share a printed report or digital resources where board members can learn more at their own pace. This can be a comprehensive document that includes all the details you might not have had time to cover in the meeting.
10. Celebrate Successes
Lastly, always take a moment to celebrate the successes. Whether it’s academic achievements, improved facilities, or increased community involvement, recognizing these positives can inspire and motivate everyone involved.
Telling your student story isn’t just about presenting facts and figures; it’s about painting a vivid picture of life within your school and showcasing the impact of the board’s decisions on real students. By personalizing the data and actively engaging with your school board, you can create a powerful narrative that resonates and drives informed decision-making.
Learn more about how Frontline can help you use your student data to close learning gaps, advance equity, and improve student outcomes.
Dr. Taylor Plumblee is an experienced education executive with demonstrated success in education management and marketing. She joined Frontline Education in 2021 and is the Manager of Product and Solution Marketing with a focus on Student & Business Solutions including School Health Management, Special Program Management, Student Information Systems, and Data & Analytics. She has taught at both the elementary and high school levels in both traditional public and public charter schools. Her areas of expertise include student services, career technical education, special education, school health management, and student information systems. Her areas of responsibility included staff professional development, guidance and student services, and master schedule at the largest high school in Central Florida, with a student enrollment of 4,300+. She directly supervised 25 faculty, 10 school counselors, and 5 support staff. Taylor graduated in 2020 from Northeastern University with her Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Curriculum, Teaching, Leadership, and Learning. Her dissertation researched the conditions under which education technology is successfully implemented in the school setting. She has found success in bringing her experience in school based-administration to the SaaS and EdTech industry.