2020-2021 Superintendents to Watch-Dr. Lewis Brooks

Dr. Lewis Brooks
Shelby County Schools, Columbiana, Ala.
@Drbrookslew ; @Shelbyedk12alus

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership for me is the opportunity to serve students and the community in a way that positively impacts the future. It is my desire to be the type of leader that is collaborative, empowering and most of all transformative. My motto and my goal as a leader is to give more to the world than I take away.

How have you integrated communication into your district’s strategic plan?

Historically, communication has been one of the 12 strategic areas of our overall strategic plan. Through Goal Action Plans that were developed, we have intentionally implemented many new programs, events and communication channels to share the positive news about our school district. Those efforts include our Showcase of Schools community engagement event, the creation of our district’s mobile app, developing marketing plans for each school and school community, and implementing many various social media strategies to boost stakeholder engagement, including one-day hashtag campaigns such as our first day of school event - #shelbyfirstday

What communication initiative are you most proud of that have you implemented in your district?

After attending a few NSPRA Seminars and seeing the great work of districts across the country, I started discussing with my public relations supervisor how we could tell our stories in a more compelling way. Those discussions led to the creation of a digital media specialist job role. With the addition of this position, we now use digital media content such as videos and graphics to tell our story in a much more engaging way. Our digital media specialist is also a former teacher and has invested a great deal of time into securing funding for new digital equipment for our high schools and helps to provide training and mentoring to the teachers and students in our classrooms. Not only are we , as a district, improving the quality of our messaging with digital content but so are our schools.

What communication tool do you enjoy using the most in your profession? Why?

We utilize a variety of tools in our district, including blogs, mobile apps, social media and digital media to communicate with our various stakeholders. While I enjoy the opportunities to share information using those tools, I still believe that face-to-face communication is the most important and effective way to communicate with others. In a large district, face-to-face interaction increases the authenticity and sincerity of the communication..

How have you used social media in your strategic communication efforts?

Social media has been critical to district messaging and information sharing. We are using it explicitly across school communities as well as the district as a whole. I also use my personal Twitter account , @Drbrookslew, to share information about the great work that is being done each and every day inside our schools. Analytics from social media gives us a measurable way to see the reach and impact that our messages have with stakeholders. It also offers a two-way communication tool and allows us to send our messages out quickly and directly to our students, parents and staff.