Everyone Needs a Hashtag:
Meet the #ForeverStrong-Huttig Bulldogs
By: Meghan Ables, 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year
Look around. Hashtags are everywhere, communicating with a few simple words the purpose and passion behind a product or company. This message resonates and spreads like wildfire through social media, in many cases leaving an ever-lasting impression. Strong-Huttig School District is a small school surrounded by several large districts. The teachers and students there have decided to launch a full campaign to promote the school they call “home” and “family.” This group of #ForeverStrong students and staff members are joining together with the community to show the love, learning, and life still thriving in this small district.
Special thanks to the Strong-Huttig District for sharing the pictures from their campaign launch day!
On my visit to Strong, I had a candid conversation with many of the high school students about their school. These kids love their school; they love the small classes and the relationships with their teachers. These students told me that they believe their teachers will do whatever it takes to prevent them from failing or giving up. These students quickly responded with the words “love” and “encouragement” when they talked about their teachers. One student looked at me and said, “We just want people to know how good our school is. We are proud to be Bulldogs.”
Strong-Huttig School District is around 40 students short of meeting the number of students required by the state to stay open. Because there are two schools nearby that are large and offer a variety of electives and opportunities, some students in the Strong-Huttig District will school choice out of the district. I sat down with the superintendent, specialists, teachers, and Student Government representatives to talk about how they would be proactive to promote their district. The students want to have a meeting with the entire student body to encourage them to start showcasing their school with the hashtag #ForeverStrong.
Teachers are going to work together to showcase the learning in the classroom through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Teachers are going to feature outstanding educators, student award winners, athletic success, outstanding alumni, etc. through this new campaign. The mission of this is to give the community and surrounding communities a glimpse into their classrooms. What is it like to be a student in the Strong-Huttig District? By featuring the learning, success, and pride in the classrooms, others may want to come be a part of this school too.
I visited with several of the teachers as well. These teachers feel support from their co-workers and administrators while possessing a strong sense of pride in being a Bulldog. One teacher who had taught previously at a larger district immediately said that he would never go back to a big district. He talked about the intense support he receives from his department and the fact that he feels encouraged to grow as an educator. The district has also brought in additional supports for teachers with interventionists and school improvement coordinators.
Some features of the Strong High School that it is proud to showcase includes school-wide Smart Boards, lap tops, in-house full-time mental health support, and a strong EAST program. At the elementary school, one will find computers in all 3rd-6th grade classrooms, IPADs, a piano in the cafeteria, and fun classrooms. The elementary school is beginning to create school clubs for the students to be a part of during lunch time. Class sizes are such that students get ample amount of teacher contact time and improved differentiated instruction.
My hope for this district is that it rises to the occasion and keeps its doors open for a lifetime of learning and love. Follow this district on its journey through social media. Encourage the teachers, students, and faculty. Share the great things you hear about or see going on in that district. Share the posts on social media. Wear the school colors with pride. Put a sign in your hard that says #ForeverStrong. Order the school t-shirt. Join hands with these students and show them you believe they will always and forever be Strong-Huttig School District.
My challenge to every school out there….Find a hashtag that represents your school, teachers, students, and tradition. Make it a part of your district in every way. Show the world what you do to inspire learning and impact lives. A few simple words could change the conversation across town. As a district promote your school via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use your original hashtag to spread your success stories. I look forward to hearing more amazing stories from across our state!