News and Updates: Newsletter Articles

Survive and Thrive: Use Your Strengths to Turn the Current Challenge Into an Opportunity

Tuesday, April 14, 2020  
Posted by: Nat Saltonstall
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By Corey Colman, Director of Auxiliary Programs

Porter-Gaud School

Charleston, SC


Deciphering and maximizing the value we provide in our current role and climate becomes more crucial by the day.  Auxiliary leaders across the country are facing a challenge unlike ever before.  Impossible to ignore the new world we’re all fighting to survive in, there’s still a glimmer of hope for the benefit and overall impact we can provide our schools and communities.  Let’s get back to basics – what’s the most important function you can serve to your current school and its students. 


There are many traits that Auxiliary Directors have in common that serve us well in this trying time.  Utilizing our unique skill set to help connect our students will prove to be invaluable.  A few of these characteristics include: 


·      Community Connectors

·      Adaptable and Creative

·      Problem Solvers

·      Excellent Communicators and Collaborators

·      Inspiring Personalities and Positivity

·      Strong Work Ethic and Drive

·      Multi-Tasking Specialists


Opportunities in a crisis always arise.  A chance to prove our value and relevancy is a chance that needs to be taken.  More than ever we need to focus on our own schools and how we can best serve our own faculty, staff, students and families.  We may be able to provide programming as beneficial, or more so, than the virtual classroom day.  Our connection with one another and our community feel is a top priority and must remain intact.  It must be the main focus when it comes to the creation and rollout of any Auxiliary Programs.  So, what can we do to help?


·      Focus on value added, not revenue

·      Connect with your student’s favorite teachers and ask them for ideas (recruit the best, they may be more accessible than ever)

·      Provide programming unique to your school only

·      Offer free programming (short videos, at home challenges, uplifting messages, clinics)

·      Ask the parents what they would like to have available to them, and then deliver it (parents always help us recruit more kids)

·      Ask the students what they want

·      Communicate clearly and be transparent

·      Assign specific tasks and responsibilities to any staff that are working for you, keep a shared spreadsheet and add updates daily

·      If you have a registration fee, price it accordingly (keep it low!)


Having the right frame of mind and forethought moving forward will serve us well.  Understand that expectations are lower and we’re filled with uncertainty.  This gives us some leverage and the opportunity for a little trial and error.  Don’t be afraid to research possibilities and produce alternative virtual programming.  If it’s official yet or it’s not, this Summer Camp 2020 will not run as planned.  A good portion of our families are desperate for alternative programming, and appreciative.  Stay upbeat whenever possible because it’s contagious.  Your Heads of School understand this dilemma facing our position has nothing to do with us directly.  Create the best possible plan for you and your school and present it before its asked for.  It’s very possible that we know how to handle this situation better, when it comes to our role in it.  Keep the HR piece easy, don’t bring on new staff or vendors unless you know it’s the right call and you can back it up. 


If you have any programming that isn’t completed, do whatever it takes to finish it virtually.  We have no idea what’s around the corner, but any preparation for it will not be wasted time.  If completion of a current program is impossible than offer prorated credit to future programming, not refunds.  Prepare for the Maymester!


·      Collect ideas, assess benefit and practicality (be prepared to only use a few that stand out)

·      Have virtual programs ready to go, the timing is right

·      The school has hit a virtual groove and the families will want more options

·      Recruit big names, both internally and externally

·      Have your email typed up and ready to go out (keep it positive and show excitement for new offerings)

·      Offer programs two times a week for two weeks, with an option to sign up for half or all sessions

·      Fit them in at the same time they would be on campus

·      Offer one time clinics (painting in Spanish)

·      If supplies are needed, have the Amazon list ready to share

·      Create options for private training and music lessons

·      Keep the programs and kids active when possible (block zero with daily logs and video submissions)


Parents have said they won’t pay for a program that they can find online for free, but they will if it’s with their favorite teacher and their child’s best friends. I also understand that zero families will want to be virtual only, and have to pay extra for it, but the only thing they want less is zero options. 


Take this time to perfect your virtual programming prowess just in time for a Summer that will most certainly have a virtual piece.  Your learning curve needs to be a quick one, but you still have time to find your niche.  No money grabs here, all value all the time.  Survive and thrive in a world of skepticism.  The majority of us will tend to make many assumptions and generalizations, understandably so.  We have an opportunity to integrate our ideas and community developing programming.  Don’t slow down and don’t check out.  We are needed tremendously.