Running a Private School

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Updated April 08, 2017 |
Summer Checklist For The Marketing Team
Summer is an excellent time to spend a couple of days reviewing your marketing initiatives. It is important to see what's working and what isn't working.

Summer is usually a good time for the marketing team to review the year to date and plan for the year ahead. Strictly speaking, summer doesn't begin in most private schools until school is out. That can be anytime between the middle of May and middle of June, although some schools finish classes at the end of June. In any case, this is usually an excellent time to spend a couple of days reviewing your marketing initiatives. It is important to see what's working and what isn't working.

I like to think of marketing from the perspective of the home-owners I used to represent back in the 80s when I was a real estate broker in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. I would explain to them how important it was to view their home and surroundings just as a potential buyer would. Buyers see things which you are so accustomed to seeing that you don't see them. The things which you do not see objectively could well be deal breakers. The same principle is true in marketing your school. Certain things which you take for granted or think are not important could be deal-breakers for potential families looking at your school.

Against that backdrop, let's took a look at each of your marketing tools as well as your overall campaign.

1. Your website

Think of your school's website as the front door to your school. The entrance to your school is warm and inviting, isn't it? Perhaps it is impressive, even imposing. The

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Published April 05, 2017 |
Remarketing Your School
Digital marketing is effective and fairly straight-forward to implement. Here is an overview of remarketing, an important component of any state-of-the-art marketing program.

Marketing a private school is one of the tasks which can be daunting for school administrators of the small to medium-sized school.  That is mainly because most heads of school have as their principal duty raising money. That responsibility is a full-time job by itself. Naturally, heads of school have a host of administrative duties as well. Moving down the organization chart, private school business managers have to keep the books balanced, manage the cash flow and deal with the overall management of the physical plant. Academic deans manage the teachers and what happens in the classroom. As a result, the admissions office ends up with the marketing brief, such as it is, in smaller schools. Most of the time marketing in the small school consists of making sure the website is updated, regular posts to the social media pages are done, and an admissions catalog is produced annually.

This state of affairs contrasts sharply with large private schools which can afford to hire the professional marketing staff needed to promote their schools effectively.

What is remarketing?

So, I can just imagine you reading this and thinking that you barely have time to market your school, much less remarket it. Anyway, what exactly is remarketing

You and I are targets of companies' remarketing efforts every time we surf the web. For example, I was looking at bread machines the other day. After I left Amazon, I went to The Guardian to check the headlines and then went on to Facebook. Each

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Updated October 11, 2016 |
Understanding Enrollment Agreements
Attorney Sara Goldsmith Schwartz answers my questions and provides some general guidance regarding best practices for enrollment agreements.

Editor's note: 

I asked Attorney Sara Goldsmith Schwartz, whose "practice is focused on the critical issues facing school administrators and leadership," to answer my questions and provide some general guidance regarding best practices for enrollment agreements. This article is intended for the information of owners, administrators, and trustees of small to medium size private schools. ~ Rob Kennedy

The relationship between parents, students and the school is determined by contract law. Can you tell us what that means?
 
The relationship between parents, students, and the school is based on a lot of documents, including the student/parent handbook, the code of conduct, the enrollment agreement and more.  The enrollment agreement, however, is the only legal contract, and it memorializes the relationship between the parents, students, and the school, binding the parties to the terms and conditions laid out in the agreement.  The agreement assists schools in collecting tuition and fees in cases of non-payment and in assessing late fees in cases of late payment. However, a comprehensive agreement addresses far more than tuition and fees.

This short clip explains why contracts are important legal documents.

 

How can a professionally written enrollment agreement prevent litigation in the future?
 
A properly drafted enrollment agreement is a cornerstone of a school’s risk management strategy.  For instance, it can help deter parents from bringing claims against the school, as well as help the school prevail on such claims.
 
An enrollment agreement that comports with best practices and applicable

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Updated April 05, 2017 |
The E.E. Ford Foundation: An Inspiration For 21st Century Benefactors
We take a look at the enormous impact a private foundation can have on education.

Editor's Note: I asked John Gulla, the Executive Director of the E.E. Ford Foundation to answer some questions about the Foundation's work specifically, and independent school philanthropy in general. I am grateful to him for his thoughtful responses.  Rob Kennedy

John Gulla, Executive Director, E.E. Ford Foundation

Preamble

JG: One does not have to read Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, though I do strongly recommend it, to understand the challenges of late-stage capitalism and the concentration of wealth.  Half of the world's wealth is now controlled by less than 1% of the population.  Put another way, the wealth of the top 1% equals the wealth of the other 99%.  Viewed slightly differently, fewer than 100 individuals own as much as the poorest half of the world's population.   This is not the place for a discussion of how this has come about or the challenges it represents, but I think that the data provide a prima facie case for the increasing role of Private Foundations in the years ahead.  

RK: What was Edward E. Ford hoping to accomplish by establishing his foundation? 

JG: The current mission of the Foundation is to "strengthen and support independent secondary schools and to challenge and inspire them to leverage their unique talents, expertise and resources to advance teaching and learning throughout this country by supporting and disseminating best practice, by supporting efforts to develop and implement models of sustainability, and by encouraging

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Updated April 18, 2017 |
Interviewing the Over-prepared Teacher Applicant
Some applicants can fool you when they interview. Here is some advice on how to prevent that while at the same time keeping the interview process simple and efficient.
I have been interviewing applicants for employment for many years now. I used to be fooled by a certain type of applicant who presented extremely well at the interview. Unfortunately, a few months after hiring the applicant, things did not go as well as we had hoped. With my experiences in mind and knowing that many of you are operating your schools with very small staffs and also knowing that you do not interview many teachers in any given year, let's look at a couple of simple ways which will protect you from hiring a teacher who is not a good fit for your school.
 
How not to be fooled
 
"First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes." Elliott Abrams
 
I agree wholeheartedly with Elliott Abrams. You and I are accustomed to sizing people up in a very short time. Essentially we are using the same skill set which we use in the classroom. As we teach, we are constantly assessing how our students are absorbing and understanding the material, right? We have honed that skill set very finely. So bring it into play when you first meet an applicant.
 
This short video offers some useful tips on interviewing candidates.
 
 
Trust your instincts
 
You have to trust your instincts and your experience when you are interviewing teachers for your school. I put that at the top of my list for interviewing anybody, but even more so when interviewing teachers.
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Running a Private School

Administrative

Here you'll find information on the administrative side of running a private school. We'll cover strategic plan development, state regulations, human resources and school safety. Learn more about the obstacles of taking over a struggling school, get tips on hiring a headmaster, and receive expert advice on dealing with bad press.

Fund-raising

Private schools often need to be creative when it comes to funding. This section provides tools, tips and resources on fundraising. Learn more about supporting your school, how to handle major gifts, and why keeping in touch with graduates can benefit your budget.

Marketing and Technology

Advances in technology have changed the way businesses market themselves. This section provides tips on social media marketing, information on the latest technology being used and SEO basics for private schools.