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Understanding positive school and community relationships: Marketing strategies of successful schools

Bonnie Hotz-McMahon, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The failure of many public educational reforms or poor school-community relationships may have a great deal to do with the myth concerning the isolated role and ability of one segment of society to produce successful change without first understanding and addressing the independent and interdependent relationship of society's parts. The significance of this study is an understanding of the balance between the ecosystem structure that we label community, and strategies used to attain a balance with public education. ^ The purpose of the study was to understand strategies that have been consistently present in successful school-community relationships. ^ The procedures used in this multiple case study were telephone interviews and focus groups. A telephone survey was conducted asking executive directors of two educational organizations and the director of communications of a third to name at least five communities in their state that possessed successful school-community relationships. Participant communities were selected if they commonly appeared on two of the three generated lists. A second layer of phone interviews was conducted with a newspaper editor and with two public relations personnel in order to solicit names of potential focus group participants. Three focus groups were conducted by a trained focus group facilitator/moderator in the three selected communities. ^ Analysis of the data resulted in the emergence of four major themes: Involvement, Personal Relationships, Communication, and Quality Product. ^ The interrelated constructs reported in the literature of the study were represented in a visual model and included the elements of publicizing, service marketing, social marketing, development of social capital, and full public engagement. What appears to be unique in this study is that the strategies and concepts, the themes that emerged from the study, indicated that in communities with successful school-community relationships, an inverted pyramid exists, suggesting that the practice of most communities as reported in the literature, is in fact the opposite of what is actually present in successful relationships. Knowledge of the model provides the opportunity to move up the pyramid, spending more time in areas of best practice. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Hotz-McMahon, Bonnie, "Understanding positive school and community relationships: Marketing strategies of successful schools" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3116578.