Flex Academies President Joshua Chernikoff interviewed Rock Creek Forest Elementary School PTA Liaison Kristen Clemens, in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Clemens expressed to us the importance of the liaison as a partner with Flex. The great communication between the two parties helps to make the relationship such a solid one, and has helped to produce a very successful year at Rock Creek Forest Elementary School.
Flex Academies: Can you describe the liaison role and how Flex supports that role for you guys?
Kristen Clemens: The liaison role really sort of requires being that communication person between Flex and the PTA, which for most schools probably means the PTA presidents and their executive board as well as the broader PTA membership. It means communicating to our school community as well as with our principal and maybe our assistant principal, whoever is the primary contact of the staff to make sure, from the planning perspective, that everyone who needs to be at the table and engaged in the conversation is engaged and has the opportunity to raise concerns, ask questions, provide input, and give feedback about what is working well and maybe what we should consider.
Then also sort of the marketing and communication piece: Flex does a lot of that for you but there is a value in being tied to the community and communication channels that are more open to your PTA liaison and that’s where I’ve found a lot of my time. I was able to facilitate the communication between Flex and those various stakeholders.
Flex: For a PTA that might be joining Flex, what would you tell them about the liaison role, because as you said it’s both sides. It’s the planning, it’s the communicating part, so it’s a really important piece. Can you talk about just how important that liaison role is to what we do?
KC: Sure. The PTA liaison role is critical because Flex brings their expertise of all the pieces to be built for the program, but the PTA liaison sort of brings the specific needs of the school. They bring that to the table so that Flex is aware of what those things are and can help us plan accordingly. The PTA liaison role is critical. I wouldn’t want to not make it sound like it requires a lot of time, but at the same time it’s so much less time than it would be to have a PTA volunteer who was in fact coordinating your whole program.
It’s sort of a cool role to play because you get to facilitate communication, help make some decisions. You have to be sort of in the weeds and know the details. For our school the scholarship program is critical, and there are more moving balls that need to be juggled in making sure that the right people are involved.
There is a time commitment to it, but a lot of it is just being generally engaged and aware of what’s going on: Who’s holding which ball, helping to provide hopefully quick and efficient feedback when a decision needs to be made, and knowing when the baton is yours and when to pass the baton when you don’t need it, because Flex is really there to make our life easier and Flex does.
Flex: Let’s be honest with each other, you and I are kind of ‘marketing nerds.’ We both enjoy marketing so I try, we try, to provide different forms of five different ways to talk to parents about Yoga or Lego or Minecraft or whatever it is. For you it’s what you do day-in and day-out, so I think it comes naturally. But what about for someone who is not that much of a marketer or maybe a writer? Can you talk about the supplies we provide, for example, the Liaison Playbook?
KC: The toolkit that Flex provides the liaison is great, not only for people who are not as familiar with marketing and communications, but even for those of us like myself who do live and breathe marketing and communications. I get the importance of it. I’m constantly busy so the toolkit is not only really valuable because it provides a playbook and a lay of the land of ‘here’s what you need to be doing when’ but also here are some example emails you can send out and thought-provoking subject lines that you can use.
It’s helpful in the sense that you have a template that you can just send out. It’s also a time saver and a reminder that I’ve got to do that now. The marketing support and the playbook that Flex supplies for the liaison and the PTA helps drive forward the success of the program.
You have to be on top of sending that stuff out to let the families know that it’s there in order for them to have time to make their plans, or that you have this great program that they may not be aware of. The communication piece is important and Flex tries to give you the tools to make that interesting and as easy as possible.
Flex: I can honestly say I have learned some really neat things from you. We work really well as a partnership. Let’s keep that partnership going. We love Rock Creek Forest and thank you for your time.
KC: Thank you Josh. It was nice to talk to you today.
To watch this interview, please visit our Video On Demand site.