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Christian School Information


Give new families the gift of welcome. It's priceless and can change lives!

Building a Welcoming Community
 

ARTICLES:

It's The Little Things That Count
Simple Market Research
Welcoming Resources
Welcoming Parents: Don't Forget Mom and Dad
Alumni/Parent Business Directory

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

If you've ever moved, you know what its like to be "the new kid in school." For many of us who have been settled for years in one place, its easy to forget that feeling you get when you walk into a room full of people who have known each other all of their lives and you have to start anew. What a difference it makes when someone is kind enough to befriend you and help you navigate the ins and outs of a new system!

Often children who have always attended the same school are either not receptive to a new student's needs, or not willing to leave their circle of friends to help someone else get to know the ropes. Unfortunately, as adults, we are often not any better at helping new people feel welcome.

Some of the simplest acts can have a profound impact on the level of receptivity a new family feels when they come to your school. Former teacher and preschool director, Cindi Veenstra, gives the following tips for helping families feel more welcome in a new school environment.
  • Send out a letter/packet to a prospective new family including information about the school. Include maps of the buildings, a staff directory, and publications such as newsletters that you already produce. Add the family to your mailing list so they continue to receive regular mailings.

  • Ask a class to write a letter to a prospective student introducing their class and school.

  • Call a few parents who have children with similar ages and ask them to keep their eyes out for the new family or send a quick note to welcome them.

  • After the new family moves into the community, give their name to the leaders of programs that they may be interested in so the leader can give a call and make a personal invitation to join the program or activity.

  • Be sure to have everyone wear nametags at school functions. People new to the community have a tough job learning everyone's name and role. Nametags make it so much easier.

  • Ask one of the school families to invite the new family over for coffee to talk about the school and community and answer any questions they may have.

  • When new students arrive at your school, assign one or two current students to become a guide and friend to the new student every day for a week. This will assure that the new student has a constant companion and will be introduced to different friends each day.

  • Ask a school volunteer to call the family after the first couple of days at school and before the first few events to explain procedures/answer questions etc.

  • Put together a "Welcome to our School" brochure that lists all the extracurricular activities and special events that happen throughout the year. Include information about who is expected to come to the events, what kind of dress is expected, etc. Consider asking the high school or junior high art class to create the brochure or add appealing graphics. This brochure can be sent to prospective parents as well as parents who have already made a commitment. It will show the prospective parents that you are a caring community!

SIMPLE MARKET RESEARCH

New families are the best source of feedback to gauge how welcoming your school is. Usually a survey or a quick, informal interview will give you a good feeling for where you should focus your efforts. Contact families who were new 8-12 months ago to ask about their initial perceptions of your school. They will usually be happy to talk about their experiences and will be glad you cared enough to ask.

Ask questions such as:
    "What do you remember most about the first time you visited our school?"
    "Were there particular people who welcomed you and made you feel comfortable?"
    "Did you have a hard time finding your way through the building?"
    "What do you know now that you wish someone had told you about our school?"
    "What advice would you give this year's new students and/or parents?"
    "Would you consider being a contact person for families who will be new this fall?"
Answers to these simple questions will give you a valid starting point and help you determine how you can make your school a more welcoming place to attend. 



WELCOMING RESOURCES

The EXODUS Referral Network has developed "Welcoming" materials for churches and schools that encourage members and leaders to create and maintain a visitor-friendly atmosphere. EXODUS is a REALTOR Referral Service that assists families who are moving by connecting them with real estate agents who are familiar with the Christian community in their new or old neighborhood. Families that use this free service also receive information about the churches and Christian and public schools in their new community.

If you would like to receive a copy of the EXODUS Network's Promotional Plan for Christian Schools, or their free email newsletter, "Welcoming School," call 1-800-395-8556 or send an email to greatagents@exodusnetwork.com. If a family you know is moving and needs to buy or sell home, tell them to call EXODUS! 



WELCOME PARENTS: DON'T FORGET MOM AND DAD

Just as important as loyal volunteers, new parents are valuable sources of new ideas. Don't overlook opportunities to include new parents when you are forming a committee or planning a big event. Many parents would be glad that you asked, and contributing to a school project or chaperoning a field trip will help them become involved. 


ALUMNI/PARENT BUSINESS DIRECTORY

This is a project that will take some time and may be best coordinated by a committed volunteer. Compile a booklet or insert that includes the names, occupations and company names of parents and alumni who live and work in the district. A community directory is a helpful tool for families who have recently moved into the area and need a plumber, dentist, mechanic, or other professional who they are comfortable working with. Collect submissions by including a postcard in your monthly newsletter that interested parents and alumni can complete and drop in the mail. Recruit a club or athletic team to do the data-entry and let them sell the booklets to raise money for their activities.

We are very pleased and we would and have recommended your service.

-Gayle and Greg Deas

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