Staging Your School

Jul 15, 19

School with Welcome banner

No budget for fancy landscaping, signs, sculptures, or fountains? No problem. 

Your first impression should convey your district’s authentic brand and spirit, and it’s likely made online—through websites, blog posts, or social media. But what about the second impression: the first time visitors step foot on campus? Here are four components of making the first in-person interaction a memorable and positive experience.

Safety is #1

As always, a safe place to learn is the number one priority for staging a strong first impression. It really doesn’t matter what size the school is or how long it’s been standing, as long as it’s maintained well and safe. If the budget is tight, prioritizing only the basics of maintenance is okay—it’s amazing how far a fresh coat of paint, regular mowing, and other handy touch-ups can go.

Take the next step to build the curb appeal by partnering with science or agriculture classes to identify some hardy perennial plants to incorporate at the entrance of the school. The outdoorsy among your school’s population will be only too happy to take on the care and keeping of natural elements.


Another opportunity to involve students in the staging process includes showcasing student work. We typically envision hanging artwork throughout the hallways, and this is definitely a fantastic way to keep the school colorful. However, tap into the subjects whose assignments are less often shared. Add technical education projects into the trophy case on rotation. Blow up history papers onto 11”x17” paper and hang them near the main office. If your school has a couple unused monitors, a goldmine of content awaits. Video, slideshows, and other digital content can keep students’ work in the spotlight at all times. 

Although these displays are important for welcoming visitors, it serves double-duty as a way to show students they matter, they belong, and their work is worthwhile.

Invest in school culture

The feeling inside the school is just as important—even more so—than aesthetics and architecture. It takes time, effort, and lots of participation to create, so no quick fixes here. The outcome is absolutely worth it, though. A strong school culture is the difference between being an average district and a destination. 

There’s plenty to say on this topic in the culture section of Advancing K12, but the importance of a strong school culture becomes especially clear when it’s time to create school branding. Without culture, the components of a strong brand are impossible to identify. 

A school’s brand is more than the mascot and colors (although those are important too). Brands are built on what sets you apart from the crowd. Once you can identify that claim to fame, tell your story and share your story. You’re on your way to building a strong brand. 

Delegate and empower staff

The process of staging the school requires a team effort. Once you’ve identified your brand, it’s time to share it with your team. Get everyone on the same page, and delegating school staging gets easier. Trust staff to uphold your brand’s standards and show the same pride. This may require some coaching or training along the way, especially if branding is new to the district. The value branding brings back to the existing community can’t be overstated—showing school pride creates interest in the district, which attracts new families and staff. A collective rallying cry or hashtag (think #gocrickets in Fall Creek, Wisconsin) gives everyone a common bond to share.

It’s hard work to create engaging displays for classrooms, but for some it can become a labor of love. Is your team good-natured, creative, and competitive? Kick off each new quarter (trimester, season—what have you) with a door-decorating contest. It gets everyone involved but keeps the stakes low, not to mention gets kids excited in the meantime.

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. While those first looks have mostly moved online, where they’re easier to curate and maintain, it can be challenging to keep buildings, culture, and branding consistent on the daily in a constantly changing school. Keep a solid second impression staged, and it just might make the difference in landing a new hire or welcoming a new family. 

Originally Posted in Advancing K12

Come to WASWUG Fall and Be Incredible!
Dr. Joe Sanfelippo (Superintendent of Fall Creek School District, #gocrickets!) was keynote speaker at WSIPC’s WASWUG Spring 2019 conference, and we all learned so much from him!

With over 100 in-depth breakout sessions at WASWUG Fall 2019, be prepared to increase your powers as you learn about the Skyward software (including Qmlativ). And choose from a variety of Professional Development sessions, including Excel, Conflict Resolution, and Communications.

WASWUG Fall (October 10-12 in Spokane WA)
Everything you need to maximize your skills for the new school year!

The Qmlativ Education Management System is a comprehensive, web-based system, encompassing two product suites (Student and Business). Qmlativ offers a wide variety of applications, and holistically manages the daily operations of your district or school.

WASWUG is a Washington Skyward User Conference designed for and created by district users who want to learn more about Skyward, share insights, and network.

WSIPC is a non-profit cooperative that provides technology solutions (including Qmlativ), services, and support to K-12 schools. WSIPC’s purpose is to help schools do more with every dollar and to empower them with the tools to work smarter. To learn how your district can become a part of the WSIPC Cooperative, contact us at or 425.349.6600.

WSIPC. Inspired by education. Empowered by technology.TM

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