LORAIN CITY SCHOOLS | September 2015 - December 2017
Director of Communications and Community Engagement
The Lorain City School District serves 6,650 students in grades PreK-12 residing in the “International City” of Lorain about 25 miles west of Cleveland, Ohio. Our team transitioned the district through academic distress and the complexities of House Bill 70, while increasing enrollment, improving academic achievement, decreasing discipline and expulsions, and bringing wraparound services into our schools. During this time I was responsible for Community Engagement, the development of the Lorain Community|Business|Schools Partners, Marketing & Communications, Public Relations and Leadership Development.
Facilitated a comprehensive community engagement and input process that included leadership interviews, over a dozen stakeholder listening sessions, and staff, student and resident surveys. In all, more than 1000 individuals were engaged through this process, resulting in a responsive communications program (see below) and the development of the Lorain Community |Business|Schools Partnership to better match community resources to the needs within our schools through critical wrap-around services.
As a result of the above engagement process, I founded the Lorain Community|Business|Schools Partnership, bringing together more than 500 local leaders and organizations to bridge the gaps that poverty creates. C|B|S Partners now provide free breakfast and lunch for all students, School-Based Health Care through three clinics in our schools with a free shuttle to and from appointments, eyeglasses and exams in partnership with North Coast Eye Care within one of our school clinics, dental care, social-emotional supports through mental health clinicians at each of our schools, and additional wraparound supports including free homework help, tutoring, mentoring, uniform swaps, and student-centered programming in the areas of literacy, career and technical programming, and arts enrichment.
C|B|S brought together more than 500 members representing Mercy Hospital, Lorain County Board of Mental Health, the Mayor’s Office, Boys & Girls Club of Lorain, Lorain Public Library, Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, North Coast Eye Care, Lorain County Health and Dentistry, Lorain Historical Society, Lorain Arts Council, El Centro, Lorain County Community College, El Centro of Lorain, and the Lorain County Urban League, Forward Lorain, Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County, Stocker Foundation, Nord Family Foundation, Nordson Foundation, Lorain Port Authority, Ohio Means Jobs, Head Start, LCADA, Children’s First Council, Lorain County Community Action Agency, Stocker Arts, FAVA, Fire Fish, our local faith-based organizations, Leadership Lorain County, United Way, Lorain Growth Corporation, Second Harvest Food Bank, East Side Black Watch, Lorain Rotary Club, Salvation Army, Lorain Lions Club, Lorain International Association, Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority, Lorain Negro Business and Professional Women, The Lorain Senior Center, and the Lorain Veterans Council.
MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
Developed a comprehensive marketing and communications program in response to research-based community listening initiative with measurable objectives through a new website, print and supportive electronic media. Developed key messaging, marketing strategy and consistent branding across 16 channels to represent the district with one clear voice. Introduced new communications platforms integrating automated phone calls, text, e-mail, mobile app, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels. Established data-driven protocols to course-correct strategy throughout the year.
Worked with Lorain's Spanish-speaking families, English Learner support staff and El Centro de Servicios of Lorain to institute bilingual supports in our schools, interpreting services at public meetings, and translations of all communications.
Developed positive, responsive two-way communication channels to support community relations, media relations, crisis communications, and student/staff relations that promote trust and support for our schools. As a result, when surveyed, more than 60% of stakeholders felt the district was moving in the right direction - even as we faced the uncertainty of House Bill 70, a CEO, and the very real threat of charter schools in our school district.
Established leadership development program with principals to strengthen community and parent engagement at the building level. Developed communications protocols and training for administrators. Facilitated task force meetings to institutionalize collaborative rules of communications and engagement. Developed and evaluated communications support staff.