Why My Students, Parents, and Teachers Love Club Connect

Communicator
November 2013, Volume 37, Issue 3

Principals nationwide are signing up their schools to participate in Club Connect, NAESP’s exclusive new partnership with United Way. Club Connect raises funds for your school, supports education programs in your community, and provides resources for principals through the NAESP Foundation.

Since the program’s introduction at NAESP’s national conference in August, schools in seven states have launched fall campaigns and more are requesting implementation kits each day.

Playa del Rey Elementary in Gilbert, Arizona, is one school that’s on board. NAESP talked with principal Robyn Conrad Hansen (pictured below) on why the program has been a great fit for her school.

NAESP: Why did you choose to have your students participate in United Way Club Connect?

Robyn Conrad: I was inspired after meeting the Club Connect team at the NAESP’s conference in Baltimore. It’s hard not to get excited when you talk with the team and hear about the commitment of United Way, Scholastic, and NAESP to increase literacy across the United States. I also enjoyed seeing philanthropy as a primary focus as well. I firmly believe volunteerism is a backbone to United States’ values. We need to do more to promote all the good that is happening in our country.

In our school, reading and literacy is a primary focus. We host monthly Family Literacy Nights and two Scholastic Book Fairs a year, and place monthly book orders from Scholastic. I order three books a month, read them, and do book talks for the students. They can then borrow my books to read and share their thoughts. This month, we are reading, The Diary of Anne Frank, “The President Has Been Shot?”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Marie Antoinette.

How have you decided to implement the program in your school? 

I took the idea to my leadership team and parent group. They liked the idea and thought we should move forward, even though we just finished a major fundraiser on campus that could affect the sales. We are not promoting it as a fundraiser, but rather as a wonderful program that inspires a love for reading and promotes philanthropy in a safe online system.

What are ways you have promoted it to your parents and students?

We aligned the kickoff of Club Connect to coincide with our school district’s United Way campaign. On Monday, October 14, I gave a presentation on Club Connect to each grade level where I showed students the website so they could see what is available to them. Envelopes and a letter from me went home the next day. Thursday and Friday of that same week were our parent-teacher conferences, so I sat in the hallway to meet and greet parents, selling the cards and answering questions. We decorated the halls with posters and bulletin boards.

The parents were excited about the hundreds of dollars in coupons available to them. We shared that the cards are good throughout the U.S., so they make great stocking stuffers for nieces and nephews, and children’s birthday gifts.

How has the program been received?

The parents and students love it! Parents know the website is safe for their kids. The kids like the music videos as well as the educational games. Parents also are excited about the coupons.

What seems to get the kids most excited about Club Connect?

The kids liked hearing about the good things young people are doing around the country to give back to their community. Our student council is involved in philanthropic events that the whole school can participate in.

The week after our kickoff, the postman handed me an envelope addressed to the school in a child’s handwriting. Inside, there was a letter to me from a fourth-grader who held a lemonade stand in her neighborhood to raise money for our school. Enclosed was a $20 bill. She was inspired by the presentation and seeing what other kids were doing, and she wanted to give back.

What does your school plan to do with the money?

The money raised will be used to support our library and purchase more cards to be given to needy families who can’t afford them.

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