The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) has had a number of high-profile projects requiring a strong communications component to students, staff, parents, and stakeholders.

As the communications liaison for these groups, I serve as project manager, leveraging the staff and messaging platforms available to ensure that project messaging is having the desired impact. Often, the difference between a successful and a failed launch is the information being communicated. Each project presents it’s own set of challenges in which creative and impactful messaging practices must be leveraged.

A few of the high-profile communications projects that I have managed recently are:

Student Information System: HCPSS made the decision to replace the Student Information System (SIS) that we had in place for many years in order to implement a system that could adequately handle our evolving and growing needs. Accurate and secure student data and records are a critical component to an education institution and this transition to a new system had to be done seamlessly. This change impacted students, staff, and parents so messaging was critical. I leveraged existing platforms and worked with a team of curricular, administrative and data management experts to enact impactful messaging strategies to ensure that all parties were receiving the messages as they were intended.

Learning Management System: For the first time, HCPSS was adopting a Learning Management System (LMS) to be used system-wide by all teachers, students, and parents. We adopted Canvas by Instructure which is also being used by the University of Maryland and other major education institutions. Howard County was one of the early k-12 adopters of Canvas. Since this was our first LMS – and we were not replacing an existing system – the bulk of our messaging was focused on educating stakeholders on the purpose and benefits of a LMS and then providing support and resources to help their adoption. One thing we found was that students and young teachers were early adopters and effective champions of the new LMS.

Financial and Human Capital Management Program: HCPSS is currently adopting Workday to serve as our financial and human capital management program. Workday will provide a cloud-based solution for finding efficiencies and easier access to our information as employees and managers of people. Workday impacts all HCPSS staff and requires a robust training and information-sharing strategy. Ultimately, our intranet was instrumental in providing an effective platform to reach staff with messaging that impacted them and their job functions. The communication challenge was to effectively create excitement around the solution coupled with adequate information and resources.

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