Communications 101 is my latest column published in American School Board Journal. Given the turnover that school boards see each winter following an election cycle, it’s a a good time to look at the do’s and don’ts of communications. Consider this a how to help your board become educated about the norms and protocols of your governance team.
Currently showing posts tagged Freelance Writing
Last year, I wrote a freelance story on how schools on the Texas Gulf Coast were recovering following Hurricane Harvey. The same week, 12 months later, I returned to Galveston County to report on another disaster: the shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead and 13 injured.
How the district is dealing with the aftermath of two large-scale traumatic events in a single school year is the focus of “After It All Falls Apart,” published in this month’s American School Board Journal. It is available to read in PDF form here and is also on the National School Boards Association website in text form here.
Here are photos from the last stop on Chris Stapleton's All-American Road Show Tour on Sunday at Baltimore's Royal Farms Arena. Stapleton's mix of hard country and soul was on full display during the show, which saw Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives as well as rising country singer Brent Cobb as opening acts. It was a show not to be missed.
Seven of my freelance articles focusing on a diverse range of topics have been published in four national magazines this fall.
Three of the articles look at trends in K-12 schools and higher education. Two look at staffing services that help companies deal with a tough hiring environment and operational challenges. One examines whether to make crucial capital investments to expand business opportunities, and another looks at the challenges of printing on recycled plastics.
Below are brief summaries of each story. Click on the link to read or download the pieces in PDF form:
American School Board Journal
Teachers in Turmoil: The nation’s K-12 teachers are not happy—and they’re making their frustrations known. This past spring, they walked out of classrooms in six states to protest years of low pay and poor working conditions. An unprecedented number ran for seats in their state legislatures and for Congress. Add to that a 23 percent decline in the number of people completing teacher preparation programs, and you have a crisis in the making. (October-November)
Old Schools Never Die: Closing a neighborhood school is one of the most difficult and controversial decisions boards and superintendents make, even if doing so makes educational and financial sense. Community emotions run high before, during, and after the process, and the blowback is often fierce. (October-November)
Deciding with Data: Higher education institutions—large and small, public and private—are increasingly tapping into data to make better informed decisions about their international recruitment efforts. Doing so, however, raises a number of questions, as this story for NAFSA: Association of International Educators notes: Among them: What types of data should be gathered? What customer relationship management (CRM) tools should be used to slice and dice the data? How can international enrollment managers take what is gleaned from their data and use it with internal and external audiences? (September-October)
Before You Make a Capital Investment: More and more small and midsize commercial graphics and printing companies are expanding, thanks to new, business-favorable tax laws and a steady economy, as this story in the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association magazine notes. With three out of four small businesses planning to invest in technology, equipment upgrades and hiring staff, here are some things to watch. (September-October)
The Green Evolution: Concerns over costs and quality control have prevented printing on recycled plastics from taking hold on a widespread basis. But it is likely coming, thanks to the rapid evolution of digital technologies and retailer demand. For now, companies need to know the issues associated with printing on recycled materials and start educating their clients about the drawbacks and long-term potential of doing so. (July-August)
Navigating a Candidate-Driven Market: A strong U.S. economy combined with a tough hiring environment has resulted in prolonged job vacancies—which can be very good news for staffing companies that have the right recruiting strategies in place. Written for the American Staffing Association’s magazine. (September-October)
Agility Supporting Growth: For small and mid-size staffing companies, focusing on generating revenue is critical to success. Some are finding that outsourcing their “back end” office operations is the way to go. (July-August)
Nine freelance articles published since April have been posted to the New/Recent Articles section of my website. This includes three pieces in which I also shot the photos. You can access them by clicking on the links below.
Working Vacation (August 2018): Despite what naysayers believe, the idea that summer is just a two-month vacation for educators could not be farther from the truth. While some take on second jobs to make ends meet, others dive into learning more about their profession so they can come back stronger in the fall. Written for American School Board Journal.
All About the Money (August 2018): It’s always a good thing for the public to know how tax dollars are being spent. And, given the struggles many districts have faced due to cuts that date back almost a decade, it is incumbent on school leaders to paint an accurate and ongoing picture of the financial challenges they face. Written for American School Board Journal.
Education Abroad (July-August 2018): Study abroad programs are going through a slow but steady evolution. Now in almost every college and university in the United States, the size and structure of these programs vary depending on student demand, faculty support, and the individual institution’s long-term goals. Written for International Educator.
Generation Why (June 2018): The Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17 at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School could represent a tipping point for student activism and civic engagement. No longer content to sit on the sidelines, these students — led by Parkland survivors — are marching and protesting at a rate not seen since the Vietnam War. Cover story and photographs for American School Board Journal; to see more, go to the Visual Storytelling section.
No More Game of Phones (June 2018): The measures schools have taken to enhance security have evolved greatly in the almost two decades since the Columbine High School shooting. However, internal communications when a situation erupts have always been a sticking point. Solutions that work well and easily often are overlooked and underrated, complicated in part by an ongoing unease about what technology can and should do in crisis situations. Written for American School Board Journal.
Working with Alumni (March-April 2018): As U.S. colleges and universities work to boost international recruitment efforts, alumni who have graduated and returned to their native countries are sought after resources. But working with alumni can present a series of challenges if you don’t have the proper elements—organization, resources, and understanding—in place. Written for International Educator.
Full STEAM Ahead (May 2018): In a small Tennessee community, three schools have been turned into the first K-12 STEAM cluster in the nation, systematically incorporating arts (A) into the traditional science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Written for Techniques, the magazine of the Association for Career and Technical Education.
Rogue on Board (April 2018): A rogue board member who hogs the spotlight, constantly stirring things up, can derail even the best-run school districts. Time that can — and should — be devoted to more pressing matters is spent addressing issues raised by a member who has no individual power but uses the position as a bully pulpit. Written for American School Board Journal.
Preschool Push (April 2018): More than a half century after Head Start was initiated, questions persist about how to best serve young children, as policymakers, parents, and school leaders wrestle with the question, “When should a child’s formal education begin?” A growing research base shows that high-quality pre-k programs have both short- and long-term benefits for students, but bringing those programs to scale remains challenging due to long-standing questions over funding and teacher quality. Written for American School Board Journal.
A new communications/public advocacy column I wrote appears in the current issue of American School Board Journal. See it here.
My four-page freelance story on the push for improved preschool programs is featured in the current issue of American School Board Journal. See the story, which includes six of my photos, here.
So I watched the CNN Town Hall as part of research for a story I’m writing on school shootings. In many respects, it had the feel of a community wake and the start of a larger conversation that is 20+ years too late.
You can’t help but be moved by the raw words and visceral responses of a community traumatized by yet another horrific incident on one our nation’s campuses. Kudos to those who went into this knowing they would be roasted, such as Rubio.
Most of all, kudos to those who said the time for talk is over. Don’t say something; do something.
It’s worth noting those who were conspicuous by their absence. Why did the governor and the FBI not show? Why won’t state leaders engage these kids in public?
Why? That’s the lingering question no one seems to be able to answer. But the tide could be turning.
I’ve been giving the situation in Florida a great deal of thought over the past several days and have a few observations:
1. What makes this school shooting different than similarly horrific incidents is you have a community of teens who has had enough and is willing to do something about it. Say what you will about timing, grieving and place for these types of debates, but denying the power of these future leaders to galvanize and force change at a time when our government is stuck in its same-ole, same-ole battles is the equivalent of impersonating an ostrich. (An ostrich that, BTW, can’t decide whether to bury his/her head in the sand or a chosen part of his/her anatomy.)
2. Saying these kids are fake actors or are having their statements written for them is a either a blatant misunderstanding or utter lack of respect of their intelligence and values.
3. These digital natives are smart, pissed and have access to tools to bring their message to a worldwide audience in a nanosecond. They have no patience for platitudes, thoughts and prayers, no matter how sincere we are. Lip service is out; action is in. The fact that they are grieving openly while demanding change is not something that should be dismissed, but heralded.
4. We talk about the current generation’s lack of civic engagement. And yet, when kids become engaged about something that goes against society’s longstanding beliefs/mores, we try to dismiss or disparage them. You can’t have it both ways. A bedrock of engagement is the knowledge that people can and will disagree before reaching consensus, and being comfortable enough in ourselves to allow that to happen in a civil manner. If, sadly, the pain and suffering of others is what has to happen to bring change, then we should be applauding them for their courage instead of denigrating them or dismissing their opinions.
5. Note that I’m not making a blanket statement about gun control, espousing conspiracy theories, or disparaging the values and beliefs of others. There’s plenty of that going around already. My hope is that this level of engagement from our kids — the ones we claim are our future leaders — can be appreciated, respected and, ultimately, valued.
Two freelance articles — one a feature on the state of the student press — appear in the new issue of American School Board Journal. To read the pieces, click on the links below.
Student Press (February 2018): Student journalists in 13 states have press freedoms and protections, but administrators in the rest continue to review and censor school-sponsored publications under a 29-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision. But officials say the tide appears to be turning, at least in some areas.
Public Comments (February 2018): The public comment portion of any school board meeting can turn quickly into a communications debacle for the board and district. Over time, however, courts have ruled consistently that the public has a right to raise and air complaints during an open meeting, even when individual employees are named.
Here’s a good Sunday read…
In September, three weeks after Hurricane Harvey, I went to Texas to write a story and take photos on how schools were recovering. The result is the cover story of month’s issue of American School Board Journal.
You can see the story and layout, which includes more than 30 of my photos, by clicking on this link. If you’d like to read just the narrative, go to this page on the National School Boards Association’s website.
I've also done a narrated slideshow that the accompanies the story. Take a look below:
Over the past six months, I've had six freelance stories published in magazines, with more in the cue for 2018. Here's what I've been writing about:
Smooth Transition (January-February 2018): First-year interest groups, commonly known as FIGS, are designed to help college freshmen make a smooth transition into university life through a combination of classroom work and personalization. For international students, most of whom arrive on campus just prior to the start of classes, FIGs can help them learn to navigate the sometimes tricky transitions they encounter when moving to a new country. Written for International Educator.
Lone Star Strong (December 2017): An 11-page spread in American School Board Journal featuring more than 30 of my photographs and reporting on school district recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The package also includes a 3-minute slideshow with a separate behind-the-scenes narrative about the story.
Clearing a Path (November-December 2017): As growth in the number of international applications to U.S. colleges and universities falls, institutions are widening their recruitment efforts to include more students who may lack advanced English language proficiency. Many have turned to pathway programs to help ease the language transition and create opportunities for students to be successful. Published in International Educator.
Health Tracker (December 2017): Schools searching for ways to curb child obesity rates are turning to wearable devices and software that provide data on student health and fitness. And when the technology is used appropriately, it is working. Published in American School Board Journal.
Federal Shifts (October 2017): As districts become more invested and reliant on high-speed networks and Wi-Fi access to educate students, school board members need to be aware of how shifts at the federal level could affect the funding and long-term effectiveness of their technology programs. Published in American School Board Journal.
Supporting Staffing Success (July-August 2017): For small and midsize staffing companies that work with large numbers of temporary and contract employees, contracting with an outside provider to provide backend support ensures payroll is accurate, on time, and in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. Published in Staffing Success.
Eight days, six school districts, six family members, four bar stops, three Shipleys, two Whataburgers, two longtime friends, two hs football games, one Astros clincher, 1,200 miles driven.
Til next time, Houston.
Earlier this month, I spent a week taking photos and reporting a story on Hurricane Harvey for an upcoming issue of American School Board Journal, the National School Boards Association’s magazine. Having written on the aftermath of natural disasters before, I wanted to understand Harvey’s far-reaching impact on communities and schools in the wake of the late August storm.
Being there from Sept. 11 to Sept. 18 gave me the chance to follow Harvey along much of its 300-mile path from Rockport, near Corpus Christi, to the Louisiana border. At this point, cleanup was kicking into gear and schools were just resuming in many of the impacted communities, although it will be some time before those near the storm’s eye will be open again.
In the hardest hit areas, the loss was overwhelming. Contents of family life spilled out into yard after yard and neighborhood after neighborhood, mixed with swollen sheetrock and the growing presence of mold. “Strong” was the byword used in many communities as they demonstrated an unheard of level of resilience in the face of an economic and environmental tragedy. The generosity of others — some fellow community members, some total strangers — was constantly on display.
The story will appear in the November issue of the magazine, and I’ll be sure to share it here. For now, follow my camera on a day-by-day journey through a state that is injured, but not broken. And check out more photos on my Facebook photography page here.
As I work on this piece about schools and Hurricane Harvey, I can't help but think of those affected by Irma and the other natural disasters. But, having traveled along the path of a hurricane over nine days, I'm also convinced that Harvey was a one of a kind disaster. (I hope so, anyway.)
I'm also convinced that Texans are folks who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, murmur a "f-this" (or some other, more religious equivalent), and move on to the next thing.
Some of you may think that "(Fill in the blank) Strong" is nothing more than hackneyed phrase by now. I get it, because why is it necessary to say something that is so evident in every community affected along the Texas Gulf Coast?
You've got this, Texas. There are a host of other issues you need to address, but on this count, you've got this part down.
Art therapy is a fast-growing but still relatively new practice around the world, having started in the early 1970s in the U.S. and Britain. In a story for the magazine International Educator, I looked at how this type of therapy is moving beyond the visual arts to incorporate dance, music and other forms to promote healing around the world.
You can see this and other recent pieces I've written at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
Two more recent freelance stories look at the effort to integrate the arts into STEM curriculums around the country. The stories, which are part of a Technology column I write for the National School Boards Association, can be found under the header “Building Up STEAM” at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance
A freelance story I wrote on the “13 Reasons Why” phenomenon and the effect it is having on school districts is featured in the current issue of American School Board Journal. The story looks at how school districts were caught off guard by the Netflix show about the death by suicide of a teenage girl and the tapes she leaves behind, as well as the potential legal and ethical ramifications for school districts.
You can find the story at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
Apprentice Approach, a freelance story that looks at how schools in Colorado are adopting facets of the Swiss apprenticeship model, appears in the new issue of American School Board Journal. You can read the story the story I wrote here and see a slideshow of photos from my trip with the delegation in the Events section of my website.
“Aftershock,” a story I wrote that looks at the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election and its effect on K-12 schools, has been published by American School Board Journal a week before the inauguration. Read the story here.
Five recent articles published in three different magazines this fall have recently been uploaded to my "New/Recent Articles" section. You can check them out by clicking on the links below or by going here.
Act Globally (November-December 2016): Increasingly, higher education drama programs are offering international experiences for their students through academic exchanges and education abroad opportunities. This story, published in the November-December 2016 issue of International Educator, focuses on how these opportunities focus on skill development as well as social justice and global issues in the developing world.
Leading the Leap (December 2016): Online assessments are here to stay, regardless of whether your state has embraced the Common Core Standards. In this column for American School Board Journal, I look at how a toolkit scheduled to be unveiled in December 2016 will help schools and districts assess their readiness and ability to effectively deliver these assessments.
Cracking the Literacy Code (October 2016): Cracking the code on literacy, especially in majority-minority school districts, is no easy task. As this story in American School Board Journal notes, large-scale initiatives are costly and time intensive, and the needle on achievement rarely moves quickly. Earning buy-in and support from community and business leaders is critical, as is the need to provide strong professional development to teachers and a rigorous evaluation system that can accurately determine whether a program is working.
Technology Evolution (October 2016): In today's device-filled world, the tools students and teachers use can be terrific, but they have proven time and again to be no replacement for quality instruction. As this column in American School Board Journal notes, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is taking on the conundrum with its second revision of its technology standards for students.
Finding the Class of 2009 (October 2016): The latest in a series of articles written for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's Diversity & The Bar magazine focuses on Nila Bala, a public defender in Baltimore, Md.
For much of the past year, I have been profiling winners of the LMJ Scholarship for one of my clients, the Washington, D.C.-based Minority Corporate Counsel Association. My newest piece, “The Future of the Legal Profession,” focuses on the 2015-16 scholarship winners and is featured in the current issue of MCCA's magazine, "Diversity & The Bar."
You can access the feature by visiting the New/Recent Articles section of my website at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
How do you make the regulatory process surrounding the nation’s largest education law interesting? Take a look at my story in the Summer 2016 issue of ASCD’s "Policy Priorities," which focuses on the development of regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the long-awaited successor to No Child Left Behind.
In addition to the main story, you can also read a sidebar that includes a step-by-step breakdown of the process. (And it really is interesting, too.)
For more recently published articles, visit http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
This spring, I served as one of two writers for the annual edition of enVision, the magazine of the University of South Florida’s College of Engineering. In all, I wrote 11 stories that were published in the magazine, which is available to students and alumni.
The assignments were a fascinating mix of alumni profiles and features on work currently underway by students and faculty at the Tampa-based college. You can read more about the individual stories or access a PDF of all of them by clicking on this link.
Profiles of David Lewis (left) and Will Nevin, part of an ongoing "Where Are They Now?" series I'm writing for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, are featured in the magazine, Diversity & The Bar. Lewis, who overcame a difficult childhood to receive the 2006 LMJ Scholarship from MCCA, has started his own business in the Chicago area that acquires and builds companies in the transportation, distribution and logistics industry. Nevin, a 2007 LMJ award winner and Native American from Alabama, lost more than half of his body weight after a health scare in law school. He now teaches journalism at the University of West Alabama and writes for al.com.
You can download the stories from the links above or go to the New/Recent Articles section of my website.
Now on my website (http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance) is a fascinating human interest story on a young woman who became a corporate attorney thanks to her mother's willingness to sacrifice everything. I also took the photos of Patricia Astorga and her mother in New York City earlier this fall.
“As a journalist, I’ve always been fascinated by two subjects: The intersection of high school sports and community and how schools recover from trauma, whether it’s a natural disaster or a terrible event. The story of Sayreville has both.”
Those words are the start of a six-minute slideshow I wrote, edited and narrated to accompany my cover story that is featured in the newest edition of American School Board Journal. The story focuses on how a New Jersey school district responded to a hazing scandal that forced the cancellation of the 2014 high school football season.
The slideshow is designed to give readers more insight into the reporting and what I learned during my two-plus days in Sayreville in late September. It also is a showcase for many of the more than 100 photos I took during the trip. Three of those photos appear in the story and on the cover of the magazine.
I am extremely proud of this "Visual Storytelling" package, which examines the effect the scandal had on district leadership as well as students. The photographs give you a sense of the town and community, which strongly supports its high school athletes. The writing looks at how, after the resignation of the athletic director and the involuntary transfer of a Hall-of-Fame football coach, Sayreville’s team returned to action this fall with new staff in place and a heightened awareness about the effects of hazing and bullying.
You can read the story, titled “Comeback Season,” online for a brief time here, or you can download a PDF here as well. Check out the slideshow too, and let me know what you think of this approach in the comments.
Six new freelance stories, including a profile of an acclaimed professor who has moved from the telecommunications industry to research that will reinvent laproscopic surgery, are featured in the Spring-Summer 2015 issue of enVision. The publication is produced twice annually by the University of South Florida's College of Engineering. Read the stories at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
In addition to photography and blogging, I also write freelance stories for a number of national organizations. Two of my most recent pieces have been published in American School Board Journal and ASCD's Education Update.
The stories are:
• Money Matters: Construction Funds: Published in the September-October issue of ASBJ, my fifth "Money Matters" column looks at how a Delaware school district simultaneously built a $114 million high school while successfully turning around low student achievement.
• Making Exceptions: The Challenge of Educating 2e Students was published in the August 2014 issue of ASCD's Education Update newsletter. This piece examines the difficulty schools have in educating twice-exceptional students, those who are considered academically gifted but with a disability that can impact their ability to learn.
You can find more of my 2014 articles — 14 have been published so far this year — in the Freelance Articles & Columns section of this website.