Telling a school’s story on social media can be powerful. Just ask principal Michael Randolph. Randolph is in his sixth year leading Leesburg High School in Leesburg, FL, and he has helped to transform the community’s perception of the school simply by using social media.

For instance, the graduation rate at Leesburg High has risen nearly 20% since Randolph took the helm. It’s a figure few would have thought possible in the years that preceded his tenure when the school was battling a less than stellar reputation.

In August 2019, Randolph realized he needed to change the narrative and started posting one positive story per day on his school’s Facebook account. He dubbed the effort #180DaysofJoy, and it’s been going strong ever since. “Our goal was to share the amazing things happening inside Leesburg High School,” he says. “It has evolved, and now I can’t just choose one positive thing. I choose multiple things every day.”

Randolph says that in sharing the positives occurring at Leesburg High, the goodness only has multiplied. His school has received additional community support, found new funding sources, and increased its ability to recruit high-quality teachers because of such uplifting storytelling.

To find these stories, Randolph collects them by walking around his school and being present in the hallways. “I have to be intentional to go seek these items,” he says. “It has helped me as a principal; I never leave Leesburg High School without thinking about the best part of my day.”

On a larger scale, Maine Principals’ Association Executive Director Dr. Holly Blair shares a positive story from a Maine school every day on her Twitter account, Instagram and the association’s Facebook page and website. “I was tired of only hearing about the negative things going on in education—not just in Maine but throughout the nation,” Blair says. “There are so many more great, amazing, positive things going on in schools that people just don’t know about.”

Her Twitter feature, “Maine’s Positive Story of the Day,” features a highlight from one Maine K –12 school every day. Blair does not have to work very hard to solicit content for the feature; principals are eager to share their good news with her, so she can share it with others. “It takes 10 minutes out of my day, and to have that come back 1,000-fold in pride in schools, districts and communities, it’s powerful, and it makes the educators feel good.”

Maine’s Positive Story of the Day also has generated some unexpected benefits for school leaders. “It’s started to shift how people think,” she says. “I tell my members, ‘You are each other’s best resources.’ Through sharing on my Twitter, principals have started contacting each other and saying, ‘Now I want to do this at my school.’ It’s ended up becoming a networking thing.”

Another of Blair’s reasons for highlighting the positive? Too often she sees educators being unfairly criticized by community members and in the media. “We are not unlike any other state that is seeing groups of people who are anti-education,” she says. “You know how you combat it? Show them what’s good! Let’s get the stories out in front of them.”

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