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Embracing Collective Authorship: Reimagining School Marketing for More Powerful Storytelling

Jeffrey Collier, superintendent of Saginaw Intermediate School District, at a session titled "Reimagining School Marketing." Photo by Lyla Kelley.

By now, you’ve likely thought about how to share your school district’s story. Maybe you’ve even put time, effort, and resources into shifting your school’s narrative. But is it working?

If you are attempting to move the needle alone or even with a small team of colleagues, you’re likely putting in a lot of work for a minimal impact. What if you had a team of brand ambassadors equal to the number of staff members in your district?

In their session, “Reimagining School Marketing: The Power of Collective Authorship,” Tyler Vawser, vice president of marketing at Apptegy, and Jeffrey Collier, superintendent of Saginaw Intermediate School District in Michigan, shared how the transformative concept of collective authorship is more effective than traditional storytelling from a single voice.

Central to the discussion was the notion of empowering every staff member — from your teachers and principals to your custodians, secretaries, and bus drivers — to contribute to the school district's narrative by sharing one positive moment a day. Vawser and Collier emphasized the importance of equitable storytelling, highlighting that everyone’s story deserves to be told, regardless of their role or tenure within the district.

“Collective authorship enables us to tap into the power of firsthand experiences, capturing the magic moments that define our school culture,” Vawser explained.

Every school’s narrative serves as a reflection of their organizational culture and climate. By valuing and listening to all voices, connecting authorship to your district’s goals and empowering your team to tell “every day” stories, school districts can cultivate a strong, positive culture rooted in authenticity and inclusivity.

“Without a story, our communities don’t understand who we are,” said Collier. “When we don’t capture the story, we aren’t sharing the joy and inspiration of what happens in the classroom every day. Sure, I can provide vision and delegate tasks because that’s my job, but if I’m the sole author of our story — well, that’s a pretty thin book.”

(Kara Droney is director of communication with Butler Area School District in Pennsylvania.)

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