Fairmount Principal Jay Townsend is one of many members of the Tigers community always looking for new ways to share insight into the school. Townsend runs a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and an Instagram account, all in the pursuit of opening communication.
When people think about social media and schools, they may conjure images of students on their phones in class, or Tik-Tok trends about smashing the school. But, for Townsend, and many other school administrators like him, social media is seen as a tool for schools to connect the community to their students.
“Communication is so key these days. With technology, there are so many different avenues to do it. It can give parents insights, highlight things the school is doing or what students are learning in the classroom,” Townsend said.
After attending an elementary principal conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, Townsend found a new way towards this goal, a podcast. Townsend got to work, learning the software, finding students to speak with and publishing Fairmount Public School’s new podcast, “Tiger Time with Mr. T.”
Schools across the country are working to adapt towards the digital age through strategies like adopting social media and getting the community involved.
“It can get overwhelming trying to get things out. So many people use different social media. One might be more of a facebook person someone else might use instagram more. Podcasts are emerging as a way many people are using more now,” Townsend said.
Each episode of the podcast runs for about 20 minutes and features Townsend speaking with students about different topics.
“The sky is kind of the limit. I can talk to athletes about sports or the student council about what they do. I have an idea for talking to students that go to career and tech ed. in Wahpeton. I want to get their experience. It is about highlighting the school so listeners get an idea of what is happening,” Townsend said.
The conversations aren’t entirely business however. Townsend likes to talk to students about things they enjoy, like superheros or their favorite TV show. By doing this, Townsend ensures that students get to be themselves and that they have a good time.
“So far the response has been good. I try to cover K through 12 since we are a small school. Every time I have asked a student to get involved, they have wanted to. Young students have had a blast with it and high schoolers enjoy it too,” Townsend said.
Many schools have put forward different strategies like this podcast. Some have created apps, others use community apps or social media to speak with the community.
For Townsend, creating these avenues of communication is about starting small.
“Just get started, just do it, even if you start small, build on it. On some social platforms you can add other admin that can put stuff on social media. Put it out to teachers and staff to get folks involved,” Townsend said.
“Tiger Time with Mr. T” is available on Spotify and Google Podcasts. A link to the podcast is available on Fairmount Public School’s Facebook page.