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It Takes a Village

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

A group of people  sit at a table in deep discussion. There seems to be a general enthusiasm for the discussion.

There is a proverb or saying that has become so cliche and commonplace that no one thinks twice anymore. The odd thing is, no one can pinpoint the origin of this proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child. But the basic premise is that parents are the core foundational influences for their children, and other relatives, friends, neighbors, community workers complement and assist the parents in the goal of raising loving human beings. There is truth in the comment that society is involved in influencing the development of children. So what does this have to do with the construction of a yearbook and your yearbook staff? How does this relate?

When you look at the purpose of the yearbook, which is to document the people and events of a school year, as well as to touch on what is happening on a wider scale nationally and internationally, there is a broad quantity of information and illustration involved. Whew, and to think this rests on the shoulders of a group of Middle School or Sr. High students and their fearless advisers? Yes, and somehow it all comes together! The secret is in the “village.”

They are treasures ready to be mined to help document and preserve the story of your school.

Who comprises this village? None other than the faithful faculty and staff of your school! Those school administrators, teachers and coaches, guidance counselors, secretaries, janitors or maintenance workers, school nurses, cafeteria servers, security personnel, who keep their heads down and plow into the daily work of instructing, guiding, leading, caring for and mentoring young minds. Each one, in their own unique perspective, offers their wisdom and experience to the students and school environment. They are treasures ready to be mined to help document and preserve the story of your school. Genuinely, how many students have these people helped, encouraged, cheered and celebrated victories, and lent a shoulder in times of discouragement, sadness or sorrow to just be a presence and have a listening ear and offer hope?

This image displays a page spread of different school students being honored. It is titled honored argonaut breakfast and shows teachers honoring students who have impacted them.
Who in your school can be honored for their personal sacrifice and investment in students?

How can you draw from and use these treasured sources to give depth and life to the interviews, stories, and pictorial tributes of the year? I recall in my high school yearbooks seeing the pictures of faculty members dressed in costume for a skit at a pep rally, or the watchful eyes of P.E. coaches and teachers as chaperones at Prom. Back in my day, the coach was the Driver’s Ed teacher, and I know he had many stories to tell of near driving mishaps during drivers’ training. This is what can make a feature story more enjoyable and fun. For example, create a page spread on a specific event honoring a teacher or staff member. Who in your school can be honored for their personal sacrifice and investment in students? One yearbook staff planned an event to thank the cafeteria servers and prepared a breakfast for them. They documented the event and created a full page spread for the yearbook. Or, interview a specific staff member(s) and delve into why they chose that position, what is their favorite aspect of the job, what do they like about interacting with students, and so on.. When we give students a window into the lives of their staff, faculty and admin as “people” inside and outside the school premises, it can go a long way in bridging communication.

Furthermore, our often overlooked, behind the scenes warriors may have the “keys” for admission to events, to background information and history, and are the ones who give your students the prime spot to obtain the perfect shot, or the exact timing for an interview for your piece. But you cannot just jump in at any time into a classroom, or roam the halls looking for that perfect photo, or walk into the locker room before the big game without gaining permission first! Communication with administration, faculty, staff and parents is a key factor to the success of your mission. Your goal is to communicate from day one about your purpose and task for their involvement in the yearbook. As Lucy McHugh detailed so specifically in United Yearbook’s August 2021 Yearbook workshop, “It is important that the teacher/adviser and the administration have open communication and an understanding of expectations for the Yearbook. Making an appointment with the school’s admin to visit with them about expectations and concerns prior to school starting is a good idea. Find out, too, who the ‘go to’ administrator for all things Yearbook--from parents to financials--would be.”

School staff members sit at two different tables in a meeting. They all seem to be drawn to the front of the room as they listen intently.

McHugh continued, “Fellow teachers and staff are essential to the success of a Yearbook. Lots of beginning of the year information is shared at those first faculty and staff meetings--try to get on the agenda for one! This is a perfect opportunity to invite colleagues to support Yearbook students and their work by letting fellow teachers know what to expect from the students: seeking permission via email to pop into classes to take pictures, setting up interviews, or simply taking candid pictures in the hallways or during lunch. Share with colleagues the Digital Photo Storage to which they should also have access--consider taking a couple of photos of the group, and walking them through the process on a screen. Also, make a list of teachers who sponsor co-curricular activities like Mock Trial, Science Olympiads, Robotics, etc. The teacher/sponsor might take pictures at competitions.” Additionally, “Parents can be incredible resources for photographs for those hard to cover events. Partner with the administration to get some space in the school’s newsletter to recruit parents. Send class wide parent/guardian emails for special requests.”

As students are intertwined with the school community, tap into your varied and diversified resources because they can be your greatest assets.

As students are intertwined with the school community, tap into your varied and diversified resources because they can be your greatest assets. Pair yearbook staff with certain groups of these potential assets and delegate responsibility to the staff for cultivating these resources. The yearbook staff experience will be richer because of it, and the yearbook itself will be a more unified, celebratory presentation of the school’s population, events, and stories. It is a win-win situation, for certainly, “it takes a village” to generate an outstanding yearbook.

Contributor: Donna Ladner obtained a B.A. in Education and a minor in English from California Baptist University, and a M.S. in ESL from USC, Los Angeles. After she married Daniel, their family moved to Indonesia with a non-profit organization and lived cross-culturally for 15 years before returning to the U.S in 2012. Donna has been working as an editor and proofreader for TSE Worldwide Press and its subsidiary, United Yearbook since 2015.

Editor: Lucy McHugh comes to United Yearbook Printing from a 39-year career in public and private school education. She was a former visual art teacher and yearbook adviser. She received a Bachelors of Science in Art from Columbia College in Columbia, SC, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nebraska in 2000, and in 2014 earned a Certificate in Catholic School Leadership from Loyola Marymount University. Lucy enjoys her family, making art and gardening.


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