A marketing campaign meant to communicate the value in Grosse Pointe Public Schools is unrolling as district officials work to keep current families happy, attract prospective families and show private and parochial school families the benefits of going public.
"This is about keeping the kids we have, encouraging people to move to the Pointes because this is a great place to raise a family and about letting the parents who have chosen another option know the benefits of our schools. We are the best option in town," said Dr. Jon Dean, deputy superintendent for educational services.
Following up on districtwide marketing talks from August, the newly formed marketing committee, made of two administrators and three school principals, has come up with several immediate and long term goals.
More immediate will be a district-wide open house, an eighth-graders day at high school, a more customer-friendly reconfiguration of the administration building at 389 St. Clair, and customer service training for staff.
"Sometimes in the public sector we don't think about marketing ourselves," Dean said. And marketing, he says, has a "direct link to enrollment and funding."
Perhaps the most noticeable, immediate outcome of the marketing plan is the all-schools open house on Nov. 11, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
The open invitation will show off schools, teachers and programs that set Grosse Pointe Public School apart. It comes when many private and parochial schools hold their open houses.
"I can't say exactly what programs we're going to show off. That's being worked out, but we know there are many," Dean said.
One message to be conveyed in general is the level and differentiation of services offered to students.
"One of the great things we do is provide services for every kid," he said. "Grosse Pointe Public Schools is prepared to meet the needs of our highest learners and our struggling learners."
Possibly the most significant piece of the marketing plan, although it's long-term, would be the creation of pre-schools at elementary schools. The idea is to draw back the dozens, possibly hundreds, of students who attend pre-school and Kindergarten outside of Grosse Pointe Public Schools.
Other broader goals of the campaign include:
- Guaranteeing positive first impressions.
- Focusing on student/family transition stages such as pre school, middle school and ninth grade.
- Appealing to new students and families.
- Communicating with families thinking of leaving.
The transition goal led to eighth-graders day at high school in November. Students will spend a half day at the high school they'll be attending as freshman.
"It's to help eighth-graders create a link to where they're going next year ... to be excited about it and feel ready," Dean said. "Does it help us for on the marketing end? Absolutely."
In addition, he said, there will be an exit survey for families leaving the district, ideally making clear what could have kept departing students. The positive first impressions component of the marketing strategy will include a redesign of the workspace of the administration building. The reconfiguration involves no new construction or staff and will bring the people who work most directly with the public into a central and easily accessible area of the first floor.
Other objectives will be:
- Improving signage at schools and school buildings. The age and design of Grosse Pointe Schools, while beautiful, can sometimes make it unclear where even the front door is, he said.
- Developing targeted communication to various groups.
- Creating communications materials for school principals.
- Designing a prospective parents section of school website.
In the meantime the focus is on opening the doors of the schools on Nov. 11.
"We do not only want people who are thinking about moving," Dean says. "I would argue that everyone of our fifth-grade families should come out to middle school to see what middle school looks like. And it would be exciting if a parent of 2-year-old came to all of our elementary schools. This is our chance to show everyone what's so great about Grosse Pointe Schools."