By Alile Eldridge, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Kelly Caiazzo & Nerissa Fry, PA co-editors, and Suzy Akin, Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications.
Did you notice? The familiar “Park Parent” newsletter has a new name!
It looks pretty much the same as it has for the last five years, and its mission remains the same, but we’ve tweaked the name to better reflect the community spirit the publication seeks to reflect, as well as the audience for whom it is intended.
Though created as a print newsletter, The Park Parent has been fully digital since 2017, and because it is shared by email as well as through social media and on Park’s website, its audience is increasingly wide. Through these many channels, it reaches not just current Park parents and guardians, but also alumni, grandparents, parents of alumni, prospective families, administrators, teachers, staff, and sometimes even students. The name “Park Parent” no longer represents the full range of our audience.
Over time, we also came to recognize that the name felt out of step with Park’s current message and values. Park families reflect different family structures, and consistent with our commitment to ensuring that all members of the community feel a deep sense of belonging, we now refer to “Park families” or “Park parents and guardians” instead of “Park parents.” Our shift in naming makes room for the inclusivity the Park community so values.
As we reflected on the newsletter’s purpose, we also saw that its role had changed since its inception as a print newsletter. Launched in December 1968 as a monthly publication of the Park Parents’ Association, it generally led with a letter from the PA president, and was made possible entirely through the volunteer efforts of the PA. For many years, an editorial committee of approximately 10-12 volunteers – many of whom continued in the role year after year–created the newsletter’s content.
Park families reflect different family structures, and consistent with our commitment to ensuring that all members of the community feel a deep sense of belonging, we now refer to “Park families” or “Park parents and guardians” instead of “Park parents.”
The Park Parent set out to “bring about more complete, meaningful, and effective communication among Parents, Trustees, Faculty, Administration, and Alumni.” It hoped to include “faculty profiles, curricular and extracurricular happenings, regular updates from the Head of School and Trustees, events on the playing fields, Parents’ Association news, the monthly School calendar, and The Park Bench, a question-answer column where rumor can come to rest and thoughtful polylogue may rage unabated.”
On a practical level, it also sought to consolidate myriad flyers and updates sent home, by mail or backpack. Early issues contained reminders about Photo Day, reminders about Parents Night, and advice on what to do (or not do!) when visiting your child’s classroom (“Please don’t talk about your child in front of him/her. Set up a conference”). It included updates about campus development, campaign plans, faculty profiles, and head of school transitions. It also offered such features as “Can Your Children Find Their Schoolbags?” from May 1971, which advertised the services of legendary Park stalwart Mrs. Dorothy Ball who would “embroider your children’s names on their schoolbags for $1 apiece. The school supplies a regulation green bag for each student. During the past three years, Mrs. Ball has given her entire proceeds of over $350 to the Park School Parents’ Association. [Mrs. Ball] offers this convenience for the sixteenth consecutive year. During this time, she has marked at least 2500 bags!”
These days, the School uses a variety of online tools to provide much of this information (and Mrs. Ball, long since retired, no longer embroiders for Park). Further, as Park developed a more robust professional staff over time, the publication evolved into a partnership between PA volunteer editors and the Park Communications office. The publication’s production was overseen and managed by Park staff, with parent volunteers actively contributing to the editorial content.
Freed from the need to provide the day to day reminders and updates that now come by email, the newsletter can focus instead on stories about program and mission.
With the transition in 2017 to a quarterly digital publication, The Park Parent was redesigned to align with Park’s visual identity, and now leads with “Head’s Lines,” a message from the Head of School. Freed from the need to provide the day to day reminders and updates that now come by email, the newsletter can focus instead on stories about program and mission. With the redesign, the newsletter acquired the sub-heading “Insights and Ideas for the Park School Community.” It’s with this aspiration in mind that we are pleased to announce the newsletter’s new name: Park Perspectives.
We haven’t changed the look of the newsletter, and the new name maintains the pleasing alliteration of Park Parent. It opens us up to the opportunity to invite teachers, students, alumni, and others, in addition to current parents and guardians, to contribute Park-related perspectives. The partnership between the Communications office and the PA continues, with parent/guardian volunteers helping guide the editorial choices and contributing content. We look forward to the many ways the newsletter will continue to encourage the sharing of insights and ideas among all members of the broader Park community – and we look forward to hearing your thoughts!