HS principal uses social media to reach students - WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Principal uses social media to reach students

Eric Ward is the principal at West Mecklenburg High School.  He says when he started his job, he thought students were getting cheated.

"We're always trying to build schools for students," Ward said.  "But it's always the adults coming up with the ideas for the students."

So Ward wanted to hear from students and connect to them.  His solution was to set up a West Mecklenburg HS Facebook group page.  He did it and so far it has worked. 

Here's how. At the beginning of the year, students could not use earplugs to hear their music.  It started to become a distraction, so Ward went to the school's group page to ask for suggestions from students.

He got plenty of ideas.  Here is the solution. Students can only use their earplugs while going from class to class and during lunch period.  The principal says for the most part that problem disappeared.

"There is some struggle with some students," Ward said.  "But the vast majority appreciate that, and the students will come up to you and say yeah I like the idea you're talking to us, you asking us what we want."

Another example is students have not been allowed to eat outside for a long time.  Students made their request known through Facebook and now students can have lunch outside.

"The kids are seeing all the freedom that they can have," West Meck HS Senior Ashley Cuomo said.  "So they are appreciating it and they don't want to go back to the restrictive movements we had last year."

Not all comments have been positive.  One student commented that West Meck "sucks."

"I started to delete it," the principal said.  "And saw the comments that came behind so I said let's let that ride."

Students wrote they loved West Meck and it appears the problem took care of itself.

Students say they love this new way of communication and think it's cool their voice is being heard.  

"For many years," West Meck HS Senior Jen Dunggor said, "we felt like no one was listening to what we wanted, and finally here comes a principal who cares about our opinion and what we think."

The principal says he knows social media can be tricky - that's why he keeps a close eye on the page and has the authority to delete anything that shouldn't be there.

Ward says this experience has taught him listening to students can go a long way.  He claims this site is helping the school both academically and in keeping the peace. 

"They feel more pride and spirit for the school," Ward said. "And if other students are not doing what is acceptable by the masses, they will in turn check each other."

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