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K.C. Boyd: Archiving academic culture and building community presence on Pinterest

In working on a long piece about how youth services librarians are using Pinterest, I discovered the work of K.C. Boyd, who leverages social media to promote the image of her school, to build community, and to archive her students’ work.

K.C. Boyd, is the Library Media Specialist at the Wendell Phillips Academy High School  (Chicago Public Schools). Though she already had several personal and professional Pinterest boards, in September, she decided to create an account for the school.

K.C. explained that Phillips is a Chicago turnaround school. The faculty walked through the door four years ago as a team, with the task of changing the negative perception of a low-performing school.

Even after winning the CPS 2013 Spotlight on Technology Award, the Phillips team continues to address the image issue.

K.C. shared:

We want to control the message and we use a blend of social media for both recruitment and image building. Pinterest is one of the ways we get the message out. And we are beginning to use it for archival purposes–for pointing to the good that is taking place in the life and academic culture of our school.

At the beginning of February, K.C. began to build her Black History board. The board shares articles, lessons and video and now offers more than 250 pins.  It didn’t seem like anything all that new to K.C.  Every year she’d prepare a pathfinder on black history, but this effort was stickier.

The staff seemed to like it.  In fact, some who weren’t Pinterest users, asked for lessons.  The board helped extend interest well beyond the month of February.  So K.C. planned others, for instance, a board recognizing people and achievements in women’s history.

K.C. also co-teaches a TV production class with a colleague in the English Department.  Members of that class are beginning to pin on the Phillips in the News board, focusing on the life and culture of the school.

I introduced it around three months ago and it’s just getting started. This kind of work provides students a different perspective, asking them to consider how our school is represented to the community. They create the school announcements on their iPads, using Keynote and Pages. The students’ posts to the boards automatically feed into the Phillips Twitter page. The tools work well together.

The Behind the Paws board archives the student-produced video news.

She is currently helping one of the English classes engaged in a legacy project—a project that K.C. believes will have indelible impact.

K.C. explained that The Wendell Phillips Academy has a rich history in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.  As the first public school in Chicago to admit African American students, the school is considered a Chicago landmark going back to the Great Migration.

The new Pinterest archive will be a learning tool that celebrates that history, sharing historical background and information about Phillips’ former administrators and such notable alums as Nat King Cole, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sam Cooke, with current students and the larger community.

According to K.C.

Pinterest is a different way to save material and tell your story.  Our presence is emerging–not as established as some other schools, but we are investing so much feeling into it..  We have a huge social media following and we plan to use Pinterest to communicate with the general public. We’re hoping it’s going to grow into something very positive in the long run. 

I credit the fact that I have a principal who encourages creativity and says go for it and there’s no real limitations.  When I first introduced social media to him he was hesitant, but now he has a Twitter account.


Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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