Superintendent Hodge has been the driving factor in integrating technology to our district. He has personally developed the use of twitter and podcasts to draw the community into what is going on and changes being made. Our small town has tried to stay as small town as it can for as long as it can–but our superintendent is intent on changing this. However, as I interviewed him for my first blog, I thought I could branch out and seek people who, under his instruction, have headed up our efforts in other areas of social media. Now, I am not trying to imply that our district has made leaps and bounds in this department, nor even a hop and skip–more like baby steps–but we are advancing our progress into the realm of Facebook; we are not wanting to rush anything. So, in this blog post, I am going to show parts of two interviews.
The first will be with Devin McMillan who is our Co-Student Council Advisor and he is also responsible for the new StuCO Facebook page, which does not sound all that expansive but it is surprising how much it is used to advertise school events; the second will be with Kimberly Fairborne who is the secretary to our Athletic Director Hansen Maglock. She is in charge of updating our community about schedules and results for different competitions and games. I chose to pick different parts of the interview that I thought went along the best with our readings.
Devin is a Math and Science teacher and a good friend of mine.
Question: Why does the Student Council facilitate a Facebook page?
Answer: The purpose of the Student Council is to promote school spirit; this is done by sponsoring spirit weeks, school activities, and planning service projects around the town. We felt jumping on board this social media train may be able to help.
Question: Do you think our school has benefited from having the StuCo Facebook page?
Answer: Not at first. But it is better now.
Question: What do you mean?
Answer: Well in a small town word doesn’t need help spreading. But now that the town is growing and that we are trying to reach and invite surrounding towns it definitely comes in handy. I have noticed a bigger turn out to our events.
Question: What do you attribute this to?
Answer: Old fashion advertisement to promote a new age. We put flyers up and talked to people in order to advertise.
Kimberly used to be a paraprofessional. She recently got the job as the A.D. secretary and immediately began to put our high school on the internet with Facebook. Again, I have just chosen a couple of questions and answers that I felt went along with our readings.
Question: What do you think has been the biggest improvement you have seen from our Facebook page?
Answer: The interaction on the “wall”. People have come together and discussed their favorite moments in the game and to give advice to the coaches on who should play. Mostly it’s their own kid.
Question: Do you think this has promoted good feelings within the community or has it given people a chance to just argue in a different realm?
Answer: Both. People throw around what they think and as long as it’s not vulgar I kind of like to let it stay. Controversy gives a chance for people to choose.
While our school is definitely within the incipient stages of implementing social media, I would like to point out a few key points and tie this into what we have been studying as a class. First of all, rather by accident, Devin hit on an important fact. He mentions that he used “old fashioned” ways to advertise for the page. This reminded me of what Barbara Fagan-Smith says in her article, “The Changing Role of the Communication Professional”. She discusses face to face communication, “Face-to-face communication remains the most powerful and effective way to connect and inspire people.” While this is talking about managers and employees, I feel this also applies to advertisement as well. If people only think of you as a website, no matter how prestigious, there will never be any honesty or even genuine connection.
Another thing Devin mentioned was our hope of reaching out to surrounding towns. This reminded me of Solomon and Howe in the article named “Social Media For Nonprofits”and how they say, “It takes preparation, patience and persistence. It won’t happen overnight.” Bear in mind that I am again applying what they say to another purpose–I know that–but I felt it connected with trying something new. It is a brand new concept here in our valley to use social media in regards to our schools and trying to bring people together using social media is not always instantaneous. It will take perseverance.
And lastly, with Kimberly, she says that the wall on Facebook brings people together to discuss the games and give their advice to the coaches. Instantly, this reminded me of “Connecting the World Through Social Media” by Christopher Swan. In it he states, “At its core, social media are about sharing information across boundaries.” People in this town are transcending social groups and beliefs that often keep us separate. They no longer care about who goes to which church and your kid said this about my kid. In the end, people are affected by people stepping outside of what they are comfortable with and trying to be an agent of change. I think it is admirable, no matter the result, to try to improve where you live. As a very wise person once said, “It doesn’t matter where you go, it only matters what you do when you get there.”