By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: September 7, 2018 | 1:35 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – “Deep Roots. Great Heights.”
Four simple words that carry the weight of a school division as Dinwiddie County Public Schools formally completed their months-long branding study aimed at guiding the school
Earlier this year, the school division announced they retained the services of Alexandria, Virginia-based Hunter Communications, who, according to their website, specializes in “providing school leaders with strategic solutions with one goal in mind: To create positive relationships between school districts and communities, families, and employees that ultimately support student achievement,” with a goal of creating a new logo and other branding elements for the school division as Dinwiddie Schools works to develop and roll out its own identity, which was unveiled during their annual convocation event in late August.
Costing $13,000, Hunter Communications worked with the school system by conducting research and hosting focus groups with a number of key stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, support staff, members of the community-at-large, and others, to determine what people thought of the school division and how Dinwiddie Schools means to those individual groups. For Dinwiddie County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kari Weston, the results of that analysis were thought-provoking.
“When we looked at that responses, there were clear trends in what we were seeing,” she said. “Everyone spoke a lot about the history of the school system and their own experiences here and that’s where the ‘Deep Roots,’ came from,” referring to Dinwiddie Schools’ new tagline, “Deep Roots. Great Heights.”
Weston continued, “We also found that a lot of what people knew about the school system came through perception or from things they had read in the newspaper and in the media. There was a lot of talk about our great athletic program because it’s often in the newspaper, but there were also stories about transportation and not as many things out there about the great things going on in the area of academics and student learning.”
She explained that the branding study also helped the central office understand the need to strengthen their own communications efforts with the community, both inside of their schools and to the community within and beyond the county’s borders.
“One of the areas we see we needed to work on is communication,” Weston revealed. “We need to understand there are other ways to tell our story, be it through the newspaper, or our website, other areas.”
Working to address that, Weston noted Christie Clarke, who served as the school division’s public information officer has now become Dinwiddie Schools’ director of school and communication relations. As part of that, she will also play a key role in executing the school system’s new marketing plan.
Along with the new logo, featuring a large tree with many branches and the school division’s new tagline of “Deep Roots. Great Heights,” Weston said they are in the process of preparing to roll out a new website for the community to use that is more user-friendly than their current platform. In addition, in regards to communication, Weston said the school division will also begin producing “board briefs” following Dinwiddie School Board meetings in an effort to keep the public abreast of the goings on at following meetings in addition to the BoardDocs platform, which is where many documents and agendas from school board meetings are hosted on the county website.
Reflecting on the study, Weston said the community feedback was invaluable.
“I was happy to see that we had such a cross-section of the community,” she said of the diversity of the focus groups, which also included students from area schools, members of the Dinwiddie School Board, business and community leaders and others. “Through that, the voice of the community came out as opposed to just us, as the school division, simply saying what we were going to do. In these situations where you have to make decisions, we want to make sure the voice of our community is a part of what we do here.”