The Art of Branding

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My school is a great school. Sure, according to EOC’s, SATs, ACTs, and any other 3 letter
standardized test we may be disguised as average, but my school is anything but average.
Undoubtedly we have to deal with drugs, fights, and even the occasional bomb threat, but do
not be fooled, my school is not a dangerous school. We may have students who care more
about their social status than their GPA status, but again my school is not a lazy school. My
school is a great school because we do not let the negative actions of a few, define who we are as a whole.

Although a negative headline may be more captivating, overtime those stories become how
others perceive us and overshadow what positive aspects we have to offer. Our arts program
year after year consistently wins awards for our students’ excellence and creativity. We have a sports program that for years has been a leader in the conference and a hub for collegiate and pro talent athletes. We have current students who have started their own businesses or produced their own music. We have students who have excelled academically and have gone
on to become doctors, lawyers, professors, entrepreneurs, actors, and anything else you can
imagine. My school has the belief that we are the best in what we do and we call that belief
MOJO.

Recently, if you had asked me about my MOJO I would have said in some ways, I had lost it. I
recognized the greatness in my school, but I had lost focus. I no longer was looking toward the MOJO that held us all together. Instead, I let myself focus on the edges; the outliers that did not fit the trend. Maybe it is because the teacher in me realized that those outliers were students of mine. Individuals who had so much more potential, but were absorbed and blinded by their own negativity within their lives.

Maybe we all have been captivated by negativity as we watch the world through our digital windows. It’s hard to ignore the natural disasters, the consistent political debates, and the obscene violence that happen on a daily basis. For whatever reason, it wasn’t until I got an opportunity during my time at NCCAT, that I truly was challenged to reflect on my brand and how I get my students to buy into my teaching.

As I struggled with developing my own brand, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the Student Advisory Board (SAB) for Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS). During our first meeting, I shared with them what I had learned through the Summer Institute about branding, and instantly ideas were bouncing back and forth. Through their flood of creative genius #MOJOUKNOW and the MOJO Student Booster Club emerged.

To be a part of the club, members have to submit and commit to implementing at least one proposal to improve the school. Within three days they had over 200 club members sign up. A week after club sign-ups, their first proposal managed to draw in a packed student section at the volleyball game. Chants of “MOJO – UKNOW” echoed throughout the gym. This week we are ordering shirts with our hashtag and logo created by a member of our SAB who has a passion, and in my mind a future in drafting and graphic design. As the brand grows, more and more proposals are coming in. So far within 2 weeks, we have had proposals ranging from students cleaning our memorial garden to students helping other students avoid being tardy. Seeing their accomplishments in re-establishing our brand in such a little amount of time, has helped sharpen my focus back toward the MOJO that drives my school and myself daily.

In some ways, it seems silly to have to be reminded of the importance of establishing a positive brand. Sadly, as I watch the news today I cannot help but wonder. Maybe it is time we reflect upon what we are truly selling to our youth and try to come together and refocus our own brands.

Maybe we all could benefit from a little bit more MOJO.

#MOJOUKNOW

 

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