Last month I wrote about lawn signs that had popped up all over my neighborhood for private schools advertising their open houses. As I have been following and struggling with our neighborhood “Going Local” movement, the fact that our local public school has gotten into the lawn sign act has been an interesting development.
I contacted a member of the Jenks Home and School Association and this is what I learned about this effort. It turns out that a group of John Story Jenks Elementary School parents decided that they needed lawn signs after years of staring at private school signs all over Chestnut Hill. They wanted to make neighborhood parents aware that while they were considering private schools, they might want to stop and investigate their local, public school option. The Jenks HSA wanted a ‘timeless’ sign that drew attention, so they did not include open house dates, and merely direct parents to the Jenks HSA website. They ordered a small number of signs through the Home and School Association, with money donated by the small group of parents. The HSA is now even selling the signs to anyone interested in promoting awareness of Jenks as a school choice. The “local, smart, public” tag-line is an attempt to speak to the fact that Jenks is a local, neighborhood school, that is public (free) and there to serve the families of Chestnut Hill. Their argument–that Jenks is a smart choice for their children – with its walkability, its neighborhood feel, and its strong academics.
The lawn signs are part of a larger effort on the part of the Jenks HSA to make it easier for parents to find out about Jenks, for them to know that indeed many local families are choosing their school. They’ve created an email list for prospective parents so that they can keep up with relevant events such as bi-monthly kindergarten teas, open houses and other school events. They’ve created brochures and advertising postcards, t-shirts etc.. reaching out at local events like the Chestnut Hill Fall and Spring Festivals. They’re working on developing partnerships with local organizations and businesses to become more integrated into the chestnut hill community.
I actually recently overheard a peer refer to Germantown Friends School as “Chestnut Hill’s public school” so this effort is an interesting counterpoint. Chestnut Hill has a public elementary school that has a lot to offer beyond just a free education.
Aside: I considered titling this article either “Grassroots Effort Attacks the Grass Roots” or “Grassroots Effort Hits Roots of Grass” but I thought that those headlines were too silly.