All too often, we focus on “what’s going wrong” on social media. The troublesome comments. The struggle to get consistent content. The challenge of mastering new platforms.
Now it’s time to shine a spotlight on what’s going RIGHT!
The winners of our second annual “Best of Social Media Awards” were announced over a live stream on School Communicators Day on May 13, 2022. Not only were the winners thrilled to learn that they won, but everyone who attended got a chance to be inspired on ways that they can take their social media to the next level.
You can watch the full video recording here!
Below, I have listed out the winners along with links directly to their accounts so that you can check them out! They truly are remarkable. Consider these facts:
- 199 entries
- 31 states
- 4 schools who are repeat winners from 2021
- 12 categories
- 15 total winners for 2022
Wish you would have been recognized?
Don’t miss out on next year’s awards! There is no cost to apply and you’ll know when self-nominations open if you are on my newsletter list. Sign up now!
How to Use This List
- Follow each of the schools listed on your social media platform(s) of choice.
- Screenshot the post ideas you like the best and save them in your “ideas” folder – or simply bookmark this blog for the next time you need some post inspiration.
- Share your favorite ideas with your network!
Facebook Standout Award
Lauren Aiello, Turner USD 202, KS
Facebook is the number one channel for 99% of the schools I encounter. And if you are looking to aspire to be the best, check out Turner USD 202 out of Kansas!
Lauren is a one-person communications department in a district with 4,000 students. She is a self-taught former English Language Arts teacher who focuses on high-quality photos and videos, along with great graphics on her page. Her goal in the school year is 1-2 posts per day and she makes the time to get into classrooms several times per week.
Standout post ideas:
Facebook Standout Award
Laraine Weschler, Naugatuck Public Schools, CT
More Facebook goodness is coming your way from Naugatuck Public Schools in Connecticut. Laraine is another one-person department, although she recently expanded her capacity by adding two student interns. She celebrates nine schools with weekly features including:
- Staff Shout-Outs – 97 comments, wow!
- #FineArtFriday – this post highlights the “Impact of the Pandemic on Nurses”
Laraine is a trained photographer, so she prides herself on high-quality images. Canva is her secret graphic design weapon. Another sanity-saver is that she knows what NOT to post on her Facebook page. If you want to learn more from her directly, check out podcast #103 here!
Social Media All-Star Award- Public Schools
The DPS Communications Team, Dalton Public Schools, GA
Doing a great job on all social media platforms is no easy task, but Dalton Public Schools in Georgia is now an award-winner! Check out the primary accounts:
The communications team focuses on creating engaging content. They want their posts to be colorful, informative, and fun! They use graphics, high-quality photos, videos, and news stories. They center all of their storytelling around their hashtag – #DaltonDifference.
I especially love this school’s Instagram page. The bio is well done and the highlights are well-branded. They also do a great job of incorporating videos, like this one, to show the impact of teachers.
Social Media All-Star Award – Private Schools
Shari Marderness, Saint Bernard School, CT
Private schools are doing well on social media, too! We would like to recognize Saint Bernard School out of Connecticut with our second social media all-star award. You can check out the school’s social media accounts, here:
Shari Marderness has been celebrating her school on social media since 2014. She has focused on increasing her posting frequency and engagement. She has also added Instagram Stories and Reels into her toolkit with great success!
Social Media Student All-Star Award
Matthew Goninen & The Blue Crew, Mineral Point High School, WI
The student team at Mineral Point High School has some major momentum going. They focus heavily on highlighting their athletic teams, which compliments the efforts of Communications Director, Joelle Doye, very well. She can’t be at every event, but this team of storytellers does an outstanding job.
Check out the school’s social media channels and this specific video they created to kick-off Homecoming.
Instagram – mpbluecrew
TikTok – mpbluecrew
Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Snapchat, YouTube
At the time of this award submission, the students shared that on Instagram they have had 303% increase in reach, 38% increase in engagement, and 218 new followers in the last 90 days. They contribute that to consistently sharing 5-7 posts per week and using Instagram Stories, Highlights, and Reels.
Student Spotlight Award
Brian Bridges, Lake Hamilton School District, AR
Celebrating authentic stories should be the goal, and no one did it better than Brian Bridges at Lake Hamilton School District in Arkansas, this school year. When he found out that senior team manager, Andy Tolleson, was going to get to suit up for senior night, he got to work. Check out his video announcement of the upcoming game.
And you won’t BELIEVE what happened at the game. Check out the triumph, support, and electric energy in this short highlight reel.
The video reached over 1,000,000 people and it landed Andy on CBS Sports, Good Morning America, ABC World News, Today Show, and more! Both teams even received recognition from the Capitol in Arkansas.
Instagram Idol Award
Elizabeth Cribbs, Dancing Moose Montessori School, UT
The beauty and professionalism of this Instagram page will leave you in awe!
Elizabeth does an incredible job utilizing a Lightroom filter to brighten her photos that are submitted by staff! Please also make sure to check out her Instagram Reels page. She does an amazing job with consistent titles on her covers that highlight various aspects of her Montessori school environment.
Radiant Recruitment Award
Kristin Hosfelt, Grants Pass School District 7, OR
Raise your hand if you are facing staff shortages.
Ok, put them down. We know that every school is having a hard time with support staff, teaching staff, and even leaders. This is why I love the video series that repeat winner Kristin Hosfelt put together this school year. Short video stories highlighting the current staff and why they love their jobs at Grants Pass School District 7.
Check out their stories:
Teaching is Heart Work Award
Killeen ISD Communications, Killeen ISD, TX
Cue the tissues! This video tugs at the heart strings. When teachers were tasked with selecting one student who inspires them to come to work each day, the Killeen ISD Communications team was there with the camera to capture the conversations. Listen in, here!
This style of video has been done before, but it doesn’t make it any less impactful. Your community would love to see your teachers and students have these real, honest, heartfelt conversations.
This video project might be one to add to your 2022/2023 list!
World Kindness Award
Jenny Bochar, School District of Monroe, WI
Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by the war in Ukraine. Check out how the School District of Monroe honored their own staff member who moved here from Ukraine just eight years ago.
This short video is not highly edited – it is just a direct peek into the caring school district and what happens when they support one another.
Staff Highlight Award
Karen Rudolph, Belton ISD, TX
Highlighting your staff on social media should be a key component of your social strategy. I love how Karen Rudolph, a repeat winner from 2021, shares her staff with the community. She shares an eye-catching graphic, a short intro to them, and a link for even more fun facts about the staff member. Check out this example introducing Yasmin.
Reel Awesome Award- Public Schools
Melissa Reese, Allentown SD, PA
Check out the consistency in the use of Reels from Melissa Reese in Allentown School District out of Pennsylvania! She makes a point to share at least one Reel per week and many of her videos have reached more than 20,000 views, even though her page has just 3,500 followers.
Get in on the action with Reels with some helpful resources from #SocialSchool4EDU.
- How to Use Instagram Reels for Your School
- Ignite Your Instagram with these 10 Reels Ideas
- One-page download – 25 Reels Ideas for Your School
You can also learn more about Reels from Melissa herself! She connected with me on Episode 85 of my podcast. Listen here: Episode 85 – How to Use Instagram Reels for your School.
Melissa and I will also be doing a live training on this topic at the National School Public Relations Association seminar this July in Chicago. You can meet us in real life and connect with the best school communicators from across North America. Find out more here.
Reel Awesome Award- Private Schools
Ashley Davis, Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School, NC
Let’s recognize a private school who is making great use of Instagram Reels! Ashley Davis has shared a variety of videos on her page over the past school year. I especially love little interviews like this one.
Her videos may not have astronomical views, but her page only has 400 followers. Any posts that reach 400 or more is considered a big win in reach over a traditional post on Instagram!
Fantastic Facilities Campaign Award
Bellingham Public Schools Communication Team, Bellingham Public Schools, WA
The team at Bellingham helped pass a $122 million bond in February of 2022. Only 2 of 11 districts in Washington state passed, so this was an incredible accomplishment. The use of social media was one component of the school’s communications plan. They explained the bond in both video and graphic format. They also followed up with a thank you post!
- Videos that reached 20,200 people
- October 2021: Showcasing a completed project from a previous bond – Parkview Elementary School
- November 2021: Showcasing a completed project from a previous bond -What’s Up Doc, Alderwood Elementary School
- January 2022: February 2022 Bond Area of Investment – A New Home for Community Transitions
- January 2022: February 2022 Bond Area of Investment – Sustainability, Safety and Accessibility
- February 2022: February 2022 Bond General Overview and Financial Impact
- Bond Facts
- Post-Bond Thank You
Crisis Connection Award
Ted Beasley, Jefferson Parish Schools, LA
When Hurricane Ida caused a month-long closure for Jefferson Parish Schools, the district had to lean heavily on the use of social media to communicate with families. The communications team learned to post the entire message on Facebook versus directing them to the website and many families that had evacuated the area didn’t return until school started again.
Woohoo! Congratulations to all of our 2022 winners!
If you are going to take action after seeing what these schools are doing with social media, let me know with a comment below. Who knows – maybe your school will be recognized in 2023!!
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