By Sarah Wang
Many school districts around the country struggle to maintain transparency and communication within their communities, but Arcadia Unified School District (AUSD) is certainly not one of them. The award-winning school district already boasted a thriving relationship with the public, but this summer, its Public Information Office took that rapport one step further with its YouTube series “AUSD Profiles in Education.”
As described on AUSD’s YouTube channel, the “AUSD Profiles in Education” series serves to “better inform [AUSD’s] staff, students, parents, and community about our District administration and each of their roles and responsibilities within the District.” The purpose of AUSD’s new series touches on an alarming point – most community members are almost completely unaware of the behind-the-scenes work that is done by their school district. The people most affected by that work – parents, students, and community members – are the people who are the most unfamiliar with it.
This issue is not a matter of ignorance or lack of transparency, but a matter of convenience. Members of the public are welcome to contact the district office for information and attend AUSD’s Board of Education meetings, but unless issues arise, there is little incentive to do so. Thus, many remain unaware of the district’s happenings and decisions.
AUSD is far from the only district to face this problem, but it is certainly one of the only ones to take such an innovative approach toward solving it. The “AUSD Profiles in Education” series not only introduces the public to the leaders behind Arcadia’s education system, but also tackles the issue of ease and interest.
The videos are short, sweet, and to the point – perfect for an audience that may not be interested in lengthy, data-heavy overviews. Each clip in the series features the department head of each of AUSD’s divisions. In under three minutes, viewers not only learn about each department’s responsibilities and role in running such a massive school district, but they also get to discover fun facts about each leader and their educational experiences.
Although the series is still ongoing, the first twelve installments have already received some attention. Altogether, the videos have already amassed over 1,680 views on YouTube and reached thousands more across AUSD’s various social media accounts. It’s safe to say the series has made the impact its creators were hoping to achieve. In keeping with the theme of introductions and transparency, who exactly is behind these videos and how were the videos produced?
It turns out, the profile series was created by two Arcadia High School students, senior Zoltan Hargitay and junior Sarah Wang, as part of AUSD’s Digital Communications Summer Internship. The collaborative effort was overseen and directed by AUSD Public Information Officer Ryan Foran and Communications Specialist Amber Nuuvali.
The video series, which took about a month of the internship to complete, required a great deal of designing, organization, coordination, and just a bit of trial-and-error to produce. Before beginning the staff interviews, the interns first “wanted to get the format and design done and decide on what specific information the profiles would include,” shared Hargitay. Once that was done, it was just a matter of scheduling and inputting information. “We were able to finish the project by meeting twice a week over the summer,” he concluded.
After production was completed, it was up to the Public Information Office to publish and share the videos across AUSD’s many social media pages. Currently, only half the series has been released but the videos have already caught the community’s eye. “The feedback has been great, as [they’ve] really appreciated getting to know our district administrators better on both a professional and personal level,” shared Foran.
Although the videos primarily serve to help connect AUSD administrators to the community, Foran says there’s another motivation for creating them. “Our administrators in Arcadia Unified are some of the hardest working people I have ever met, heard of, or witnessed,” he explained, “Many of them work 60-70 hour weeks on a regular basis and get into work at 7 a.m. and are the last to leave after 10 p.m. after a sporting event on campus.” And it’s true – administrators can almost always be spotted at sporting events, concerts, or events throughout the year. Not only do the admin get to show their support for AUSD students and staff, but they also “love when people come up and introduce themselves and are able to talk with them,” said Foran.
So what’s next for the widely acclaimed school district? Of course, community members can expect the release of the remaining “Profiles in Education” as well as ongoing services and new projects. “We are always looking for fun and creative ways to communicate with our community and let our parents know what is happening in our school,” Foran continues, “This was just one of many projects we have done and we are planning on more in the near future.”
In addition to the profile series, AUSD also offers a “Digital Education Station” that feature educational discussions with district administrators as well as school features, such as “Coach’s Corner” and sports highlight clips. AUSD also offers thousands of photos, videos, and other media content that are updated daily on its Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, and Instagram, which collectively boast an impressive 11,650+ followers.
Even as production and release of the profiles wraps up, all who were involved agree that the project was a fantastic learning experience and feel very honored to have the privilege of building on such a wonderful community relationship. Many thanks to Arcadia Unified for taking such innovative measures to better our community!