Communications Tips for School Threat
It is important to share as much information as you can with parents, board members, staff and community members in as timely a manner as possible. In the absence of information from the school district, the information void likely will be filled by social media, possibly resulting in rumors and false information. Given the nature of social media, you should expect news of threats to circulate through the community quickly.
The message should be shared with and vetted by local law enforcement to make sure nothing in it impedes the investigation. The message would carry more weight if it is a joint communication from the superintendent and law enforcement, if that is possible.
The message should include such things as:
- The nature of the threat;
- The date/time included in the threat if one is specified (without this information, you take away parents' choice whether to send their children to school on that particular day);
- The fact that law enforcement was immediately contacted and is investigating or has completed an investigation of the threat;
- The fact that the threat has been deemed not credible by law enforcement (if that has been determined);
- Whether school will be opened or closed (if it is to be closed, that should be the first thing mentioned in the message);
- The fact that additional security measures are being implemented out of an abundance of caution (things like additional law enforcement presence, reducing the number of entrances, security checks at the entrances); and
- Asking parents and community members to contact law enforcement if they have any information regarding the threat.
The message should be updated when the situation is resolved or as necessary based on new developments.
In dealing with media inquiries or any inquiries from the public, you should stick to only what is included in the message to parents. The message must be consistent to be effective.
Work - Life Balance
Dr. Lynn Gibson, superintendent of Hononegah Community 207,Dr. Kim Suedbeck, assistant superintendent of Hononegah Community 207 and Dr. Terri VandeWiele, superintendent of Silvis 34, developed an administrative academy for IASA titled "
Moving from Vision to Action: Learn How to Become an Essentialist."
These developers authorized me to also present the academy and I have developed it with my own presenter style. This includes a concentration on personal as well as work goals.
As the participants in my academy concentrate on personal goals, I have discovered that school administrators have a difficult time really personalizing their goals. Many participants want to connect personal goals to work goals. My emphasis is for the participant to focus on self. This is often hard to do because we are working on serving others, especially the students in our school districts.
I use a metaphor of juggling five balls in life. One ball, the work ball, is rubber and bounces back if dropped. The other four balls are glass balls that shatter when dropped. These four balls are family, faith, self and friends. Too often we think the work ball will shatter if dropped and we sacrifice our values and attention to the other four balls.
A goal of this academy is to have each individual establish a minimum of three goals that the individual will try to fulfill over the next 12 months. Goals can be work or life focused. It is up to the individual. I ask the participants to input the three goals into their smart phones and put a calendar notification on the goals at a regular interval so they can evaluate their progress toward their goals.
Later as I run into past participants, they will often reflect to me where they are concerning their personal goals. More often than not they refer to their personal goals, not their work goals. For example, one participant told me how they have lost over 30 pounds as they work on their personal goal to eat healthy and exercise. Another referred to a weekly date night he has established with his spouse. A third related to me how she has established a personal devotion time in her daily schedule. A fourth wrote me a personal email thanking me for motivating her to get up at 4:00 each morning to work out.
If you are interested in taking or hosting this academy, please contact me at
For the past 10 years I have provided a variety of academies and workshops for school administrators. This is the academy that I think returns the most benefit for the participants.
Tip of the Week
Last week I wrote about using a smart watch as part of your exercise program. My daughter, Jennifer, has an Apple Watch. A function of the watch is that you can "follow" each other in your exercise. Jennifer is a serious runner and in her first marathon she qualified for the Boston Marathon. Each day when she completes a run I receive a message on my app what she has accomplished. Of course, she also receives a message when I complete a run. While I am not presently training for a marathon I still run every day. My mileage is not close to Jennifer's but we keep each other motivated by seeing what the other has accomplished that day. I recommend that you develop some kind of process with a friend, relative or colleague to keep you motivated toward your exercise goal.