DECATUR — It had been a while since Franklin School’s Web page had been updated.
“This way, parents can see fresh, familiar faces and not kids who are now in high school,” said Casey Lawson, a senior at Millikin University who is majoring in communications and interning at Franklin as their digital communications guru.
The idea for communications interns grew out of a visit the district’s community engagement director, Kendall Briscoe, made to a class at Millikin. The students need hands-on experience, and only a handful of the district buildings have their own Facebook page or regularly updated Web pages on the district’s site. It’s a time-consuming duty.
“I’ve charged them with a couple of things,” Briscoe said. “One is to create meaningful communications for (the district’s cable) Channel 22, and learning about events and interesting things happening in their school and putting it on Channel 22, and using all the different communications vehicles. It’s an opportunity for them to learn how some of these pieces fit together, yet it’s still a small enough chunk they can wrap their minds around it.”
One intern works with Briscoe, and interns work at Stevenson and Harris schools, as well as Franklin.
For a student like Lawson, a native of Fenton, Mo., it’s also been a possible new career path. Her original plan was to enter corporate public relations, though her dream job is event planning for a nonprofit. Now, however, she’s thinking about looking for a position with a school district, such as Briscoe’s.
Lawson spends three days a week at Franklin, visiting classrooms, talking with teachers, the school secretary, librarian, cafeteria and custodial staff, finding out what’s happening and taking pictures and creating content for the school’s Facebook and Web pages. Putting information on Facebook keeps fresh information quickly available to families, she said, because so many people have smartphones and see it instantly.
Franklin Principal Stephanie Strang said that no one on staff has the time to devote to the Web page or to creating a Facebook page. Several people were trying to do a little, but with Lawson there, she can do it all. And before Lawson, Franklin had no Facebook page at all.
“She can use the information to inform family members what’s going on here at school,” Strang said. “It just helps open those lines of communication.”