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Make It Exciting

It seems like there is always a shortage of great parochial school workers.  A highly motivated individual can find a job in the for-profit world or at a public school that probably pays better than a job in a parochial school.

The difference in pay is one of the reasons many choose to work for a for-profit or public school.  There are other reasons those jobs appeal to the workers.  Some of those are under your control.  One thing you can control is the excitement level of the work.  Organizations that are doing exciting things in technology, medicine, chemistry, and other areas find it easy to recruit workers.

What exciting things is your school doing?

Your school is doing many exciting things but most people are unaware of it.  Your students need innovation because their needs are constantly evolving.  Innovation is a way to bring additional excitement to your school and value to your students and community.

Most people (volunteers, donors, staff, board, etc.) engage with parochial schools because they want to change the world.  Most people who work in one of the exciting, cutting-edge areas are there for the same reason.  Successful organizations in the cutting-edge areas are changing the world in meaningful, measurable, and durable ways.  They are doing what people who engage with your school want to do.

Does your school change the world in a meaningful, measureable, and durable way?

Ride sharing (Uber, Lyft, etc.) has certainly changed the world in meaningful, measurable, and durable ways.  Fulfilling the promise of your mission statement has the potential to be much more meaningful than creating a ride-sharing app.

For me, one of the more meaningful ways Uber has changed the world is to provide those with mobility restrictions or limited financial resources a less expensive transportation option.  For many, Uber provides something the rider needed but was unable to obtain.  For most parochial schools to top that, they will need to be doing some pretty exciting things in the near future.  Those exciting things are unlikely to have much to do with education or academic achievement.

While Uber seems to have a high level of sustainability, the durability of its services are limited to the duration of the ride.  Academic achievement has about the same durability as an Uber ride.  Assuming your school truly makes a durable change beyond academic achievement in a student’s life, your school has the durability part of the equation solved, which will make increasing sustainability easier.  The durable change is also something exciting.

Next Step:

Make what your school does exciting in ways that are meaningful for those connected to your school

Ensure keeping the promise of your mission statement means producing meaningful, measurable, and durable changes in a student’s life (great outcomes)

Use the effort it takes to recruit donors, staff members, board members, volunteers, referral sources, advocates, and others as a success measure for the preceding two steps

Many schools do the work of Sisyphus.  For instance, the students pass the math tests but very few students have stable employment for the rest of their lives or enjoy financial stability.  It is hard for those associated with those schools to feel excitement because it is hard to see how the future of a top student in a parochial school is different from the future of a top public school student.  The prospect of doing what fails to permanently change lives has limited appeal for most people, which explains why employee engagement is only about 37% in the US.  The engagement of the support systems (donors, volunteers, staff members, community, etc.) for many parochial schools is low.  As a result, the sustainability of most schools is low.

Your students, parents, and donors want you to change that.  Your students, parents, and donors want to be excited about what your mission promises and they want to believe that the promise will have a significant impact on the students’ lives and change their community.

You can change the engagement level at your school by experimenting until you find a way to make your outcomes more meaningful, measurable, and durable.  The experimentation and pursuit of a better outcome will make your school more exciting to your entire support system.  The openness to finding the better way will create a flood of suggestions.  Trying some of the suggestions will give everyone hope that there is a new way forward just around the corner.

Making what is going on at your school exciting will change the future for everyone involved.

Take It Further:

Ask your board and donors for funding for the experimentation you want to do

Ask your board to accept risk and failure as the precursors to success

Fail small and often until you succeed big

Announce to the world that your school is looking for a new way forward and it wants input from anyone/everyone

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