NEWS10 in the Classroom: Backpack mail vs. social media - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

NEWS10 in the Classroom: Backpack mail vs. social media

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Many of us are on at least one form of social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter or a blog you regularly check.

But did you know your child's superintendent is too?

Schenectady Superintendent, Dr. Larry Spring is, in fact he's up to almost 2,000 tweets, about education, what's going on in the district and also some personal things as well.

"Certainly I tweet a lot about things that might be in the realm of education policy, but I also tweet things once in a while that helps folks realize I'm a human being, I'm just a guy," says Dr. Spring.

In addition to his official job title, Dr. Spring identifies himself as an advocate for students, a father, a husband, a runner and triathlete.

"It took me a while to get into a habit of tweeting multiple times a day, sometimes I would set the alarm on my phone to remind me to "tweet! Now!" But keeping in mind, these are the different streams of information people are looking for."

Dr. Spring says his presence on Twitter goes hand in hand with how the school district also recognizes that newsletter and handouts, equal to "backpack mail", may not get read all time. That's where he says social media steps in as an information source.

"The social media right now is filling this other niche, it's a supplement," says Dr. Spring.

"I received a form in the mail a couple of weeks ago from my son's teacher, and then I received the same form via email a week later and that's the one I filled out."

Colleen Pierre is a mother of two and the founder of the online blog, "Saratoga Mama".

Pierre says while she prefers online communication, she does know parents in her own school district who are concerned with the trend heading away from backpack mail.

Dr. Spring agrees, saying it must be managed well.

"You can never go all digital with communication, there's just no way," says Pierre.

"We've got 10,000 kids in the district and we want to make sure something gets into every home, that's still the way to do that," says Dr. Spring.

The Shen Grapevine, created specifically by Superintendent Dr. Oliver Robinson, as the website states, "nip the rumors about the district in the bud".

"When people are having the soccer field conversation or the baseball field conversation, saying I heard this, now you can say, I heard it on the grapevine," says Dr. Robinson.

Dr. Robinson says social media has changed the whole dynamic of what communication is.

The grapevine is defined as place where Shen parents and students can set the record straight and ask a question or confirm a rumor and if online appropriate, it will be answered and posted.

"We become apart of that conversation that might be casual there, but we bring in accurate information," says Dr. Robinson.

The most recent question on the Grapevine was a question about next year's graduation date and a discrepancy in the principal's newsletter and the school calendar.

The question was not only answered, but also fixed in writing.

Dr. Robinson says while the district may get thousands of hits on its traditional website, but the Grapevine allows for an actual conversation with the public.

"Bottomline, everyone is trying to do the same thing, how do we embrace the public, how do we engage our public much more in what we are trying to do," he says.

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