It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year! If that phrase makes you think of the holidays, I can hardly blame you, but for me, it’s National School Choice Week (January 22-28, 2023).
As vice president of events and partnerships for the National School Choice Awareness Foundation (NSCAF), I think I have the best job on the team. Why? Because I work with the best group of people around the country to plan the biggest and most impactful celebrations of the Week.
My colleagues and I work with leaders and organizations in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, to plan our flagship events, and they’re unforgettable.
Sometimes people ask me why we focus on big flagship events when thousands of schools around the country are planning their own independent celebrations. Three big reasons stand out to me:
To raise awareness.
Getting together 60 coalitions of people to plan giant events over a 7 day span piques the public’s interest. With the momentum these events create, the Week can catalyze important conversations that parents, students, and educators want to have about school choice. There are so many parents who don’t know that they have a choice, don’t have access to the options they need, or are stuck wondering how to get started choosing a new or different school. The big splash of these events kicks off the right time for parents to explore, raises the profiles of local community leaders, organizations, and schools who can help them on their journeys, and shows them that school choice can positive, inclusive, and personal.
To put students and kids first.
We center every National School Choice Week celebration around students and parents and what they need. That means bringing together as many types of school options as we can in one place, insisting on positive and helpful speakers and activities in the programming, and catering all of our flagship events to be genuinely fun for a student to attend. This means highlighting traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, and nontraditional learning environments.
To move the needle.
By increasing awareness in January, the amazing individuals and organizations that help us plan these events can take those new connections and that momentum and steer forward with creating and expanding school choice options for families in their state.
So, how do we define a flagship event?
Simply put, flagship events are the headliners and biggest happenings in each state during National School Choice Week! These events are hosted by state organizations, school districts and associations, and community leaders who are extremely passionate about bringing school choice options to families in their state. They partner with us to make sure as many families as possible hear about these massive celebrations. These partners work all year long with the NSCAF team to plan the event’s logistics, recruit schools, notify families, advertise event details, and make the events fun
Why is National School Choice Week special?
The Week is a different type of public awareness campaign because it’s positive, fun, and focuses on students and parents. It also encompasses all school choice options: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling. Every state flagship event is unique to the families and communities our partners serve. In one week, we see a variety of celebrations like a student rally at the Hawaii state capitol, a massive school fair in Colorado Springs, CO, and a day of celebrating students in Alaska!
Highlights for National School Choice Week 2023:
My colleagues and I are working on more than 60 flagship events and supporting more than 25,000 school activities, so it’s tough to choose what to highlight. Below are four of the celebrations that I am particularly excited about January 22-28, 2023.
Columbia, South Carolina
Our all-star partners, My SC Education, are uniting thousands of students, parents, and educators together to march to their State Capitol and host a student led rally on the capitol steps. I am excited about this event because we have not been able to bring a group like this together during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and nothing beats the power and feeling of seeing all of the students, parents, and educators marching together to spotlight the need for more school choice in South Carolina.
The amazing crew with GeorgiaCAN is hosting a massive school fair for Atlanta families. This school fair has me particularly excited because such a wide variety of schools will be available for families. It’s going to be a one stop shop for so many Georgia families to talk to almost any type of school, and it’s going to be a blast for the kids!
Students in Miami, Florida will showcase the amazing things they get to learn in their charter schools. The SLAM! Foundation is hosting a showcase for all of their school to highlight their students. Students will get to show off their: dancing, singing, robotics, broadcasting, and much more! It’s going to be such a fun day for hundreds of students that’ll make them feel like superstars.
Snowshoe, West Virginia
West Virginia is hosting not just one flagship event, but three! I am particularly excited about the school fair planned at the Snowshoe Ski Resort. Families will get to meet with schools, sip on hot cocoas and sled down some ski slopes. What a fun day for the whole family!
That’s just a small snapshot of what will be happening around the country. This year is going to be epic! Hold on to your yellow scarves.