Cultural Connect

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Social Networks a School Fund Raising Dream

In these challenging times it is hard to believe that money is available for your school. Your school has used all of the traditional methods like candy sales, pretzel sales and pizza in a box. Having two children at home makes parents fund raising experts for twelve years or more. All of this fundraising has it place but what can a school do to take an innovative approach to fundraising. The rising tide of social networks better known as web 2.0 is bursting with alumni and others who have interest in supporting your school.

One of the best ways to have funding coming in is to identify your alumni. Where can you find them? Three websites I suggest are, and There are millions of people each day who are finding friends from their past. It is an easy place to find alumni from your school. You can set up a Facebook alumni page for your school and get students to join before they leave school. You can give out your Facebook URL at the next school sports event.

You can update your Facebook page daily with school activities and special events. Sometimes in addition to money alumni can provide resources. For example an alumnus who owns a t-shirt design company may contribute shirts for a football event. Alumni from your school could donate money from items that they sell on eBay. Could you imagine having a bunch of alumni regularly selling items to raise money for your school?

You may even find and alumni on a social network that is gaining momentum. You can accumulate a following on twitter and send them daily tweets throughout the day. You can notify them of the accomplishments of your school. Each tweet will give you 140 characters to communicate your message. Your message gets right to the point. I have learned to be real disciplined when I communicate. The social networks are another way to get out information about your school and it will save you the cost of mailing information. is another fruitful place to find alumni and organize events to support your students. There are millions of people on classmates. You can find alumni and create events that they can attend. If you find clusters of students in a state that’s next door like Pennsylvania and New Jersey schedule a meeting at your school or by way of a conference call. Today people want to stay in communication daily. On Classmates you can allow friends to join and save them as bookmarks. You can create a group where alumni can keep in touch with each other. The challenging times should inspire alumni to give more support.

Your school can create an electronic newsletter that goes out to current students and alumni. Take time each month to highlight alumni who are joining your Facebook and Classmates web pages. Your current students need to know that your graduates are doing great things. People enjoy reading about success stories. You can also notify an alumni’s company when they are doing something that benefits your school.

Your school can also use to create highlight videos of your school activities. You might be raising money for a new gymnasium or a football field. Your school can even send a visual representation of what the new building will look like when it is completed. Find ways to creatively highlight people who are contributing on Facebook and in your newsletter. Some schools have their own plaque of donors who made their new buildings possible. Why not highlight your alumni on the internet.

Using the social networks is a creative way to engage your alumni and bring more resources that benefit students. Alumni are easily reminded of the things that would have made their K12 experience better. We need every school to operate at their maximum levels to prepare them for 21st century careers.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

K-6 Students Need a High School Graduation Vision

It’s easy to think that a student entering K-6th grade will graduate from high school some day but the reality is sobering. Nearly half of inner city and some rural school district students do not graduate from high school. Their education vision and experience needs to change at an early age. Why not help K-6 students to grab a vision of their high school graduation on day one. Students must know that they have what it takes to succeed in school. This vision must not only be captured in the student’s mind it must be their teacher’s expectation. A student’s gifts and talents must be exposed early if the student is going to thrive in every grade.

I have not run into a K-6 student who is making a plan to fail and not graduate. In fact many aspire to be doctors and lawyers. Each student must receive an internal message that makes school worth it. It will take creativity on the part of each schools leadership. The students are asking why should I stay in school if no one really cares. A little praise for each student’s accomplishments can go a long way. For some students the only praise that they receive all day is from their teacher. Students also feel inspired when they receive an award. There is a tendency to single out certain students again and again. For weeks when there is perfect attendance why not give an entire class a certificate. Did you know that some students will never earn a certificate during their entire time in school? Giving awards is one way to indicate that a student’s efforts are worth it. Students need to feel that someone cares about their progress.

It is amazing how many K-6 students that I talk to who want to start their own businesses. Somehow they know that having their own business I a good idea. All along we need to help students to take daily steps into their future. They must see themselves in a variety of jobs. Inviting guests from all fields of work to speak to students will broaden their horizons. What they don’t know is that they can start and earn a good living with more education. The K-6 student needs to know the amount of education that’s required to gain employment in certain jobs.

Six years can go by really fast. One moment a student is in the sixth grade and the next moment they are ready to graduate from high school. This is one reason why it is important for students to see themselves as graduates early. Each day their parent, teacher and counselor have an opportunity to inspire each student. It’s important to take the time to notice when they are maturing emotionally and intellectually. It is a great opportunity to give them positive feedback concerning their growth.

Every student is a high school and college graduate in waiting. Some students need to learn how to focus on their goals. Each student must be taught how to reach their goals and how to avoid distractions. Ask open ended questions to find out about their graduation plans. Listen before you speak and you can gain the students confidence.

Each day students attend a k12 school adds up to the long term goal of graduation. Igniting the fire in each student requires persistence from parents and teachers who tell the students that they expect to attend their graduation. Students like challenges when they perceive that the desired goal is attainable.

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Crumbling Schools Need New Ideas

Some politicians think that if they ignore crumbling schools they will just go away. Schools are just like the bridges and roads that have fallen into disrepair around the country. They will not go away. The school districts around the country have been repairing schools for years while trying to maintain failing budgets. There are ceilings falling down, hazardous rooms that are closed to students, cracking and dull paint and broken chairs and desks. Teachers suffer too. Many teachers spend thousands of dollars out of their own personal budgets to buy resources for their classes.

The crumbling schools did not get there overnight. School districts have delayed construction to meet their annual budget. As they wait the cost of materials and labor continues to rise and we have the perfect storm. The cycle continues where a school board says let’s wait and see how we can budget construction for next year. Students are at risk physically and emotionally when they attend a school that is falling apart. Students wonder who cares about whether they show up for school. School board members should take proactive steps to get legislators and the community involved in pursuing funding and all school funding must be equitable.
Teachers also suffer when schools are falling apart. They are shuffled from room to room. They are told to make due with what they have. While other schools issue lap top computers to students. Teachers need a boost in resources to provide instruction and innovative experiences for each student . One cannot expect teacher instruction to excel if they do not have the equipment for chemistry and biology courses that they teach. Corporations need to be more involved in supplying some of these resources.

The cost involved in the continuous repair of failing heaters, water systems, bathrooms and roofs of older buildings continues to increase. In many cases it is just better to build a new school. Why not get engineering and architecture colleges around each city involved in innovative projects with the crumbling schools. This is one way to create enthusiasm and innovative solutions for the problems that plague schools. It would also create engineers and scientists who are sensitive to the needs of schools. It is easy for college students to get stuck on campus and lack an awareness of the problems that schools are facing.

It’s time to stand up for schools and teachers who want to make an impact on student’s lives. Our country cannot compete with the rest of the world if we lack the will and commitment to change our schools. Presidents Obama must continue to fight to increase financial resources to construct new schools across the nation. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Maybe legislators across the parties should tour schools to see their condition. CNN should do a year-long series on the crumbling schools. It’s better to prepare for the future by building innovative schools than to watch students drop out. Let’s think big and create schools that will be noticed around the globe.

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Middle School Students Caught in the Middle

It’s amazing how easy it is to forget about the middle school years. Do you remember your crazy middle school years? Middle school students are often caught in the middle while we focus on preparing high school students for college. There needs to be national attention focused on the middle school years to prepare them for the career challenges that face this country. I have noticed that even those who write books focus their efforts on elementary and high school students and leave middle school students out. If you ever attend a national book fair there are limited creative efforts to excite middle school students to read. Any parent who is raising a middle school student can tell you that they are in a different transition in their lives. Communicating with middle school students can be challenging if you are unwilling to admit that you are not perfect. Middle school students need parents and teachers who will let them know that they care.

There should be a national effort to help middle school students to explore all types of careers. The rapid changes technology careers that are happening around the world are still far away from the minds of middle school students in this country. Now is the time to make them a part of the green revolution in solar and wind energy. It would be great to see how these students could envision their future with solar powered cars and wind technology that reduces the cost of energy in each home. Some of the most innovative students are wasting away in middle school because they continue to be taught by traditional methods. Maybe every middle school class should be full of green experiments that allow the students to find themselves and to make a mark on society using their creative ideas.

So who should care about middle school students? Everyone should care including parents, corporations, our government, teachers and counselors. We all have an investment in making middle school more interesting. Students should have laptop computers and graphing calculators as a standard resource for learning. We need to demonstrate how we value the learning capacity of every student by giving them innovative projects. Why not let the middle school students create a city wide effort to save their city money. You would then witness how much creativity an influence they can have when they think about the future of their own city. We need to spend more time helping middle school students to believe that they are part of the solution.

There are thousands of middle schools teachers who need help too. The complexity of the 21st century middle school student can be challenging. Students who would rather text message than talk to each other makes for a different world. Middle school students
are multi-tasking just like high school students. They are talking on their cell phone, sending messages on their computer, talking to their friends and doing homework at the same time. It has made middle school an interesting place to try to keep students focused on learning. Middle school students have become accustomed to a fast paced day. It’s time to fill their lives with experiences that makes middle school a place to run too not from. Let’s take the middle school years as a tremendous opportunity to help students to encounter a whole new journey to their future.

For twenty-six years, Dr. Jones has delivered presentations on numerous topics including how to study, leadership, effective communication, and innovative management practices. His URL is

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