Following lead of their tweeting CEO, Chicago schools take to social media

You can frequently find Chicago schools CEO Janice Jackson on Twitter, where she promoted CPS’ back-to-school week— #CPSB2S, of course — by reminiscing about her own experiences as a student at Cook Elementary in Gresham.

With her 1,200-plus tweets and 5,500 followers, she far outpaces her predecessor, Forrest Claypool, who was not as active on social media.

Schools are following Jackson’s lead — some more enthusiastically than others. For teachers and administrators who embrace social media, it has become a crucial means of communicating with students and giving families a peek into the school’s hallways and classrooms.

At the individual school level, social media provides perhaps the greatest opportunity for community building, and several Chicago schools stood out in their efforts last week at using social media to ring in the new academic year:

Eric Solorio Academy High

 Sure, social media is easier when there’s an obvious talking point or two, such as when Solorio teacher Robert Clarke was awarded the 2018 Yale Educator Award by Yale University last Tuesday, or when former President Barack Obama visited the Gage Park school the previous week.

But Solorio’s posts have covered the gamut, from music (its jazz ensemble performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival), to sports (linking to a Chicago Sun-Times profile of one of its football players, Messiah Travis), to a back-to-school meme from the movie “Pitch Perfect.”

Solorio’s accounts were active across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and to better reach its community, many of its Facebook posts were written in both English and Spanish.

Newton Bateman Elementary

The back-to-school posts from this Albany Park elementary school started early, with posts the week before school reopened depicting a staff outing, invitations to a meet-the-teachers event, and a map of the building.

Last week the content shifted to photos of school in session and of a “boohoo coffee” welcoming kindergarten parents to the Bateman family. In addition to its active Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, Bateman also published an online newsletter Tuesday in conjunction with the first day of school. 

Curie Metro High

 The social-media impresarios at this far Southwest Side high school are masters of the art of overlaying digital text onto photographs, a tactic that both hints at the school’s visual-arts program and that Curie has employed often in welcoming the Condors back to campus. Hashtags are abundant (#committothecondor takes forever to type but is fun to say), and the back-to-school photos featured teacher-training sessions, a poetry lesson, and the mascot (yes, it’s a condor) standing at the front door welcoming students to campus.

In addition to back-to-school fun, Curie used its three major platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — to share statistics touting its academic quality. Its Facebook page also helps alert students to opportunities such as Friday afternoon soccer tryouts. 

Sullivan High

 The Rogers Park high school dropped a slick video last Thursday entitled “Step Into Your Future” that highlighted its programs in areas such as business, fine arts and medicine.