Photo Credit: Nic Garcia, Chalkbeat Colorado

In November 2015, a coalition of 40 well-known education organizations launched a collaborative campaign under the banner Teach Strong. The campaign partners pledged to start a national dialogue aimed at making “modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the most pressing and significant education policy priority for our nation.”

Over at Springboard Communications, we’re excited to see what this coalition can accomplish. In the meantime, we’re thrilled to continue supporting PEBC, a nonprofit that has been elevating teaching for decades.

In August 2015, PEBC engaged Springboard Communications to help the organization announce that it would merge two highly respected teacher-prep programs to create Colorado’s largest teacher residency. PEBC wanted to ensure that stakeholders of both residencies were informed, and hoped a little media attention might be garnered as well.

Luckily, PEBC agreed that a robust discovery process, in which Springboard would have the opportunity to interview stakeholders of both residency programs, was in order. (They also signed up for a comprehensive communications strategy and implementation — more on that later.) Through our discovery, we learned two incredible things: 1) nationwide, about half of those who complete degrees in education never actually become teachers, and 2) somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years. 

We also learned that the teacher residencies that had agreed to join forces had figured out a way to beat these depressing odds: together, 94 percent of the teachers they prepare are still thriving as educators five years after beginning their residency year. All of a sudden, we had a hook to another national conversation, one about #teachershortage.

To distance our announcement from the usual barrage of back-to-school stories, we chose to go public with it in late September. But even then, school districts around the country were still scrambling to find any teachers, much less highly effective teachers. By positioning PEBC’s wildly successful teacher-prep program as an antidote to teacher shortage, our teacher residency merger story was picked up not only by trade publications but by every mainstream outlet in the Denver metro area, including The Denver Post9NewsCBS 4 DenverDenver Business Journal and 7 News (clip below).

The coverage far exceeded what PEBC hoped for. But in Part 2 of this case study, we’ll share the most rewarding result of our campaign: reminding residency alumni and other stakeholders that they’re showing Colorado and the nation what #elevatingteaching looks like.