Schools exist to educate students, open their minds to local and global issues and prepare them to be citizens of the world.
None of that is possible, however, if a school cannot draw students in the first place.
To address this basic challenge, the Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education, part of the Graduate School of Education, and Bloomingdale’s co-sponsored an in-service training session on Dec. 20 regarding the marketing of schools.
Thirty Catholic elementary school principals from the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Diocese of Rockville Centre gathered at Bloomingdale’s corporate headquarters to gain entrepreneurial and marketing skills geared toward promoting their schools.
“School leaders in the 21st century not only have to be competent instructional leaders, but in Catholic schools they need to develop an entrepreneurial spirit as a core competency as well, so that they know how to promote their schools,” said Patricia Kelly-Stiles, Ed.D., associate director of the center.
“As a result of demographic changes, Catholic schools throughout the New York City metropolitan area are challenged to recruit adequate numbers of students so that the schools can continue to thrive,” she said.
Led by Kelly-Stiles and Gerald Cattaro, Ed.D., executive director of the center, along with Bloomingdale’s Richard Pittelli, vice president of financial control, and Michelle Pogue, manager of education, communication and recognition, the training drew on the retail giant’s corporate models to give the principals tips on marketing their schools.
“It’s important for the principals because one of their main functions is to attract students to the schools,” Cattaro said. “They have a terrific product and the real challenge is to get the word out there… We can learn from business.”
The participating principals will assemble again in May to reflect on the strategies they implemented since the December training and how their schools have benefitted.
Moreover, Kelly-Stiles added, these strategies are essential not just for Catholic school administrators, but also for anyone who serves in an administrative role in education.
“[For] people studying for school leadership positions, knowing how to promote their schools is becoming more and more prevalent and I would anticipate seeing some of those elements infused into the existing courses,” she said. “Twenty-first century leaders have to have an entrepreneurial spirit whether they are in business, retail or education. It’s part of what one is called to do.”
— Joanna Klimaski