• AACTE 70th Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

Kick Off a New Appointment With Media Outreach

How are you telling your story in the media? Although teacher educators may feel perpetually short on time given their duties across colleges and partner schools, it can be well worth the effort to establish yourself as a respected resource to local newspaper reporters, radio stations, and other media outlets. A prime time to reach out is when you take on a new leadership role, giving you a window of opportunity to introduce yourself to the community while presenting the outlet an expert connection to call on in the future.

Take Donald Easton-Brooks, former professor and dean of the Colleges of Business and Education at Eastern Oregon University, who recently became dean of the University of South Dakota (USD) School of Education. To mark his new appointment, Easton-Brooks sat for a recorded interview with a local news outlet, introducing himself to the local audience and promoting his vision for the school. Here are some of the points he shared in his 15-minute interview.

Easton-Brooks moved to USD, he said, because of its energy around its already-excelling teacher preparation program and commitment to serving the greater community with outstanding research. To promote the field of education as a career, he wants to attract highly qualified candidates to take the path of becoming educators, not to just attend USD.

One way the new dean wants to distinguish his school from the rest is by supporting his students even after they have graduated. If somebody wants to become a principal or switch fields within education, he explained, USD will be there for former students and help them make that transition. Other strategies to create the best programs include constantly working with surrounding high schools, collecting data, and understanding what kind of curriculum works best for grade schools.

Easton-Brooks also said he is a great believer in learning to work with the diversity within your classroom. In order to be the best teacher one can be, the teacher has to understand his/her students’ background—not only their visible or obvious differences, such as in race and ethnicity, but also more hidden ones such as in income, family structure, and other implicit ways. To become a successful teacher, one has to be open and flexible to the change that diversity brings. Educators also must be able to engage with students, to build relationships in order to connect with all students and also with their parents.

Easton-Brooks also weighed in on the need to retain top teachers in the state. He noted that salary is a great determinant in keeping highly qualified teachers in the state, as a higher salary can signal higher value on the importance of educators and can attract highly qualified candidates to join the education profession.

In all, the brief interview provided a golden opportunity to this new dean to get his name (and voice!) into circulation in his new community in a drama-free context. Remember that it is much easier to secure favorable media coverage in a crisis if you already have a positive reputation, so taking the time to establish yourself as an approachable professional can pay off by setting the tone for successful long-term public relations.


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Guneev Sharma

AACTE Media Relations Intern

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