Paving the Way for Rigor: How El Centro Elementary School District Unified their Communication Strategy to Increase Community Engagement & Highlight Student Achievement
The leaders of El Centro Elementary School District in El Centro, California want the same things most K-12 educators want: to focus on providing academic rigor and opportunities for success to every student. However, a lack of unified communication between school and home was a barrier to that process. To solve this problem and focus on other priorities of the superintendent, El Centro ESD hired a new staff member to focus specifically on digital communication and by partnering with Edlio for a redesign of their school website.
El Centro Elementary School District
Location: El Centro, CA
School Type: District
Population: 5,292 Students
Age Group: K-8
Create new position to oversee website & communication
Provide whole community with access to information
Support student achievement with clear, consistent communication
A Focus on Rigor
Antonio Romayor, Jr. is the Chief Technology Officer at El Centro ESD. He explains that the district’s goal is always student achievement: “Ultimately the district's goal is to ensure that every student has access to high academics and high rigor,” he says. How do you accomplish such a goal? Make sure that the information about academic programs & activities is readily available on several fronts: “The website is really at the Center of that information share,” Romayor adds.
A lack of streamlined communication often caused problems in the El Centro community. “You know you have a family member who is taking care of a child and really depends on a piece of paper, and you have a child who doesn't really care about the piece of paper, and it goes somewhere. And then you get a frustrated parent who says, ‘hey, I never knew,’ and then the principal hears about the frustration and the superintendent hears about the frustration as well,” Romayor explains.
The breakdown in communication between classrooms, homes, and district offices is one that is familiar to most K-12 educators. Relying on paper-based communication allows too many opportunities for students to lose that paper, but only using the website relies on families to check there regularly and find what they need. It can often feel like there is no ideal solution, but the leaders of El Centro Elementary School District have found one that is working well for their community.
Creating a New Position
Romayor explains that within the district, they often struggled to keep their website fully up to date. Everyone in the district and school leadership was busy juggling multiple priorities and tasks, and updating their individual sections of the website just didn’t always get to the top of the list. That’s why he is grateful to the superintendent, Jon LeDoux, for having a forward-thinking plan to handle the district’s online communication strategy.
The leaders of El Centro ESD decided to create a new position to address their communication and website needs, and as a result, they hired Alberto Martinez to be their new Digital Media Production Specialist.
Romayor explains: “Prior to [hiring Martinez], there wasn't his position in our district, so the superintendent had a lot of work to do with regards to marketing, branding, and improved communication. And so, Mr Martinez has been crucial to that; at the center of that is his creativity.” He goes on to say that Martinez has been instrumental in bringing improvements to the district’s website.
Romayor describes the improvements they’ve made this way: “It's being able to say, ‘Okay, what are we trying to accomplish and how can we go about that?’ And so our website is so much better—and that's just one piece of it. It's interconnected with all our other social media pieces and how we plan to communicate to our partners, our parents, our faculty, and others,” he adds.
One Platform for Information and Engagement
Martinez has been instrumental in making sure that the communication from the district to the community is streamlined, consistent, and up-to-date. As Romayor explains it: “The idea is that we would be able to provide a uniform look across all our different digital and physical communication platforms, so when you see a banner on the fence, that banner is also represented in our photo shuffle on our homepage and it’s also represented in a digital billboard, and it’s is also represented in the in the flyer design that you're going to get at home.”
All roads for outreach lead back to a centralized hub: the El Centro Elementary School District website. “The web page is a default for that, because you know the majority of the people are going to have access to the Internet. So the idea is that the website’s going to have that so we wanted to be able to say we're going to showcase something right away, whatever you see on our fences you're going to see that as soon as you get to our homepage,” adds Romayor.
Teamwork Makes the Communication Work
Romayor leads the technology department and Martinez takes point on the website and other communications, but both emphasize that they are part of a larger team at El Centro ESD, and that none of their goals would be possible without the involvement of the full team. “ It has been a team effort, even the superintendent got involved,” notes Martinez.
Joining El Centro ESD in this teamwork were a few key folks at Edlio, including the redesign team and their Project Manager, Ashley. “The transition from the old design to the new one was very simple, and Ashley helped me and made it possible. She was amazing and she guided me through everything.” Martinez explains.
Romayor gives Martinez credit for his part on the team, too. He credits Martinez for maintaining a website that not only looks nice but also provides everything their visitors will need. “You have to have someone who can create it across all platforms and maintain it right,” he explains. He also adds, “besides its aesthetic, it works on any type of mobile device, it's quick to load. It's easy for us to add content to make announcements quickly, so kudos also to Edlio,” he says.
Edlio and El Centro ESD have been partners for almost 10 years; and as Romayor says, “they've been the easiest thus far to be able to make changes, organize things, and not just for those of us who tend to be either tech savvy or creation savvy. So that's been awesome, and the price is right, too,” he adds.
Coordinating information between the district and the individual schools has been easier since their website redesign as well. “If you're a parent with kids in multiple schools, you know where to find that same information or you understand you can go to our district and find a majority of that information that trickles down,” explains Romayor.
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How is your district addressing the challenges of communication in a virtual world? Read how @ElCentroESD created a new district position just for this: https://learn.edlio.com/el-centro-esd @Edlio #SchoolWebsites #SchoolCommunication #SchoolTechnology #edchat
“What we do with Edlio is being able to share as much information and showcase the amazing things that are happening in our schools,” Romayor explains. “You’re at a school and a lot of amazing things happen every day, and we're always looking at how we could provide wins for our community, our superintendent, and our board,” he adds.
They’ve done this by showcasing those great school stories. “The website is the easiest way to do that, so that's a way that we try to use it— to highlight the successes and not just information sharing,” Romayor explains.