Ideas and Suggestions
Some ideas for American Education Week activities from the National School Public Relations Association:
- Say Thanks. Have students write a short thank you note to someone -- teacher, guidance counselor, support staff member, volunteer -- anyone who works or has worked in a school and has helped them in the past.
- Target Your Alumni. Hold a reunion day, inviting alumni to return to school and talk with the students, visit with each other, and see what schools are like today. Use the occasion to launch an Alumni Wall of Fame, inviting nominations from the community, students and parents, as well as alumni participants.
- Spotlight District Initiatives. More than 70 percent of communication is getting the attention of your audience. AEW helps you grab their attention and it’s a great time to demonstrate and "show off" some of your district’s or school’s goals for the year and how you are accomplishing them.
- Celebrate Your History. Launch a program to document your school history through interviews of alumni and senior citizens. Record these memories and moments with a video camera, and present those interviewed with copies of the finished product. Let everyone know what your school stands for.
- Target the Media. Invite members of the news media to talk with students about their work and covering the issues of the day. Invite student editors to interview the media regarding freedom of the press and ethics in journalism. Hit the tough issues and use cable and/or TV programming where possible.
- Celebrate Cultural Diversity. Celebrate the cultural diversity in your community by bringing all groups together to share their rich heritage through music, food and discussions. Build bridges of understanding with panels of various groups sharing their concerns about racism.
- Take a Survey. Have a simple survey ready for visitors to fill out at AEW activities. Ask what information they are presently receiving about their schools. What could the schools do for them? What do they think the key problems are in education? What is right with education? How would they like to receive information? What programs would they like the school to offer? Remember to include a demographic question to identify those who respond, such as: Are you a parent of a student in our schools? Are you a parent of a student in a private or parochial school? Are you a senior citizen?, etc.
- Hold an "Accountability Day." Demonstrate that your students are learning the basics — reading, writing and arithmetic. Then show them how our students are also learning critical thinking, problem solving, and other critical skills needed for future success.
- Hold a Series of Parenting Meetings. Plan a series of meetings throughout the week to address concerns of parents: grading, drugs and violence, parents as teachers at home, how to ensure your child is ready for kindergarten, living with your teenager and surviving, simple and fun ways for parents to teach science at home, preparing for a career and/or college, etc. Hold these meetings in places convenient for parents -- local church, union meeting hall, community building -- as well as in the schools.
- Hold a Children’s Summit. Invite business and community leaders, parents and non-parents to address education reform, changes taking place in the schools and steps needed to prepare students for the 21st Century. Don’t just talk, but seize the opportunity to "call for the sale." Invite participants to sign-up to serve on special committees to implement suggestions made at the summit.
- Use AEW to Launch a Public Engagement Process. Some communities are realizing that the best way to build trust and bona fide two-way involvement in their schools is to begin a public engagement process. Consider using AEW to launch such a process. To find out more, check out the Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s website.
- Take the School to the Community. Hold demonstration classes in shopping malls, local office buildings, etc. Don’t limit your activities to art displays and musical programs. Consider showing classrooms in action, i.e.: kindergarten students taking the first steps in reading readiness; primary students using computers; vocational students working on projects and high school students debating national issues.
- AEW Teacher for a Day. Invite your legislators and representatives, business leaders and elected officials to sign-up to teach for a day or a class period! Be sure you have a camera record these activities, and encourage media coverage. (In fact, invite members of the media to also sign-up as an AEW teacher.)