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East Hampton’s John M. Marshall Elementary School Using Twitter To Highlight Students And Engage The Community Through Weekly Raffle

T.J. Clemente

Winners are selected at random. (Photo: twitter.com)

In a wonderful phone conversation with both Russell Morgan, East Hampton's John M. Marshall Elementary School (JMMES) Assistant Principal, and Beth Doyle, John M. Marshall Elementary School Principal, they jointly explained the new and wonderful developments they are having with using Twitter to connect with the John M. Marshall community. They are even doing a weekly raffle for followers that is now entering its third week. JMMES also Tweets out a portion of their Morning Announcements, a showcase of student works, and updates, which are helping students cope with stay at home schooling.

Assistant Principal Morgan, whose enthusiasm and commitment to the students during this coronavirus pandemic explained, "Each Tuesday we have been recording a raffle for all of our Twitter followers. The recording first goes in the JMMES Morning Announcements (which are emailed to all parents) and then is posted on Twitter. The winner of the raffle also gets a DM to let them know about their prize [an Amazon gift card]." He continued, "We still haven't heard from our first winner, but we have from the second winner!"

Principal Doyle expressed her support of the new use of Twitter, but stressed how this program is truly a sidebar - with the main source of communication being a platform called School Messenger. The platform is used to send out the school's newsletter, the Gingerbread Express / Que Pasa, once a week.

She was very forthcoming of the difficulties that are ahead, when school starts up again. But, she did offer a silver lining explaining, "Most of the required standards are taught in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades by March since those students are required to sit for the NYS exams. There will be catch up to do but we are well positioned to do that given the number of support staff we have in place: reading teachers, English as New Language, and Response to Intervention." However, she reminded me the reason for our call was to put a bright light on Assistant Principal Morgan's idea of using Twitter as another format and vehicle to bring the students and parents of the John M. Marshall community a little bit closer via posted videos, messages, and announcements - not to mention the raffle!

Assistant Principal Morgan also pointed out, "Since distance learning began, we've begun to communicate with the community more through Twitter. We believe that as we build a follow base it helps our efforts in communicating the many things happening with JMMES. This includes picture and video examples of instruction and students work along with activities in special areas such as, but not limited to art, music, and PE." He added, "At this time we have about 173 followers on Twitter, we hope to grow that, this is all still very new."

In closing, it must be noted how special these two professional administrators are, along with their focus on all issues concerning the students in their school. I have interviewed many folks over the last fifteen years, but I must admit these two had a certain fire of commitment to get their students through this crisis, and make them better somehow for going through the experience. In the end, Principal Doyle said, "I still believe and know the best way to educate the students is in the classrooms."

Until that is safe to happen again, perhaps this Twitter experience will bring some smiles and some winning gift cards to the children and followers.

To keep up to date on John M. Marshall Elementary School happenings, follow @JMMESBonac.

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