Holy Child Academy had a long standing tradition of a group called Student Ambassadors. The group consisted of several 8th Graders who helped the Admissions Team when necessary. With a little bit of coaching, this group of students led tours and sold the school better than any Admissions Director could! They were a walking, talking example of the skills an independent school instills in its students. Each member of the group was courteous, eloquent, and confident.
Building Your Team of Ambassadors
The goal is to build a group of students that will be a good mirror for perspective parents. Make sure you have students who have different interests in the school. At the beginning of each event, I would pair two students to lead tours that represented different views of the school. Perhaps I would pair a student who is very active in sports with a student who was the lead in the last school play. In addition to providing two perspectives, it was also an excellent illustration to perspective families that we didn’t have “cliques” of students. Sometimes students were paired by length of time at the school. Parents who were interested in lower grades were often impressed by students who had been at the school since Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten. However, some events were directed at perspective families with children in older grades and I didn’t want to have two students who couldn’t relate to being the “new kid.”
I don’t think you can have a group that is too large. Chances are, with all of the after school activities students participate in, you’ll never have the full group for events. I post a sign-up sheet with a limited number of spots. If you have a pre-registration for your open houses, that might give you a better idea of how many students you will need.
Coaching Student Ambassadors
Working with the Student Ambassadors was one of my favorite parts of open houses. Junior Ambassadors were selected in the second half of their 7th Grade year and started to attend meetings and working with the graduating Ambassadors. This gave the incoming students a better idea of what sorts of questions parents asked and some talking points. At the start of 8th Grade, I met with the students and discussed the importance of eye-contact, walking and talking with the perspective family, not just leading a tour, and helped perfect their handshake. We didn’t give the students instructions on what to say because they each had their own stories and facts that gave a genuine impression of their view of the school. After each event, I would sit with the students for a few minutes and go over “highs and lows” of the tour and encourage the students to offer advice. One student said she struggled with what to say in the hallway connecting the science and music room. Another mentioned that they liked to talk about music lessons they took after school. This way I maintained the organic feeling of student facts and conversations that made a lasting impression on each family.