Cannon Falls Area Schools partners with families and its community to provide an inspiring environment to educate all students in its elementary, middle, and high schools. Tim Hodges, Middle and High School Principal sat down with Rise Vision to share how his school uses Rise Vision to help support their mission and priorities.
Tim shared insight into how he manages being the principal, technology director, and curriculum director, all while maintaining the school’s digital signage. Cannon Falls also exemplifies how social media can be used to spread positivity throughout a community.
Meet Tim Hodges
Tim Hodges has been the Principal at Cannon Falls High School and Middle School for 14 years. In 2023, he was named Principal of the Year. Like other lean-running administrations across the US, Tim wears multiple hats in his role. In addition to being the 6-12 Principal, he is responsible for maintaining the school’s technology, and is the curriculum director for the district. On top of all that, he also maintains the school’s digital signage.
Digital Signage is Part of Cannon Falls Comprehensive Communication Plan
In this relatively small, rural school district of just over 1,000 students, Cannon Falls has two campus buildings.
For the last seven years, Cannon Falls has used Rise Vision in the middle and high school as a way to communicate with the students, create a positive school environment, and celebrate student achievements.
Digital signage is part of Cannon Falls comprehensive communication plan. After almost a decade of implementation, digital signage remains a good way for the school to get information out to their students. Digital signage is also a modern way to communicate and is popular with the community and students.
Weekly Updates Take Only 1 Hour
With all the hats Principal Tim wears, it’s important that digital signage doesn’t take up more time than necessary. With Rise Vision, Tim said “It’s usually less than an hour per week depending on what’s going on [to update our digital signage.]”
He shared that on Friday afternoons, he updates the lunch menu for the next week, updates all their varsity game schedules (there are a lot!), and any new announcements.
Tim looks to see if there’s a relevant template for the upcoming announcements. If there isn’t a template in the 550+ options, the platform makes it easy for him to design his own presentation using the Canva integration. Tim remarked, “The ability to jump into Canva from Rise Vision has been huge too. So if there’s not a template, I can make one pretty quickly.”
There are also a few presentations that get added into the mix like content from Common Sense Education or related to PBIS.
“The templates look nice and professional, and they get the message across pretty easily. And they’re very easy to update.”
Cannon Falls Creates a Positive School Environment & Celebrate Student Achievements
In addition to using digital signage to communicate with the students, Cannon Falls uses Rise Vision to celebrate student achievements. The school also creates a positive school culture inside and outside the school on social media with the help of #SocialSchool4EDU.
Recognize Alumni Students in the Service
A unique way that Cannon Falls is celebrating their student achievements is by highlighting alumni students who are active in the military. The program was first started by a teacher whose son is in the military.
Now, there is a display in the Cannon Falls atrium that features past students who are in the service. Tim says that the screen scrolls through “several of the kids that have graduated from Cannon Falls, what branch of the service they’re in, and what their rank is…”
Recognizing student achievements isn’t limited to just alumni students. Cannon Falls has a student recognition program called the Real Deal winner. Unlike Cornwall-Lebanon school who has their Wings of Praise program, Cannon Falls doesn’t feature their Real Deal students on digital signage. Tim candidly shared that the teenage-students found it “mortifying” to have their picture shared. Instead, Real Deal students are celebrated during the A and B honor roll recognition at the end of a quarter.
Increase Awareness Within the School
One way that Cannon Falls is creating a positive school culture within the school is by sharing what’s happening day to day. Using digital signage, the school has replaced buying posters to advertise varsity games, events, and school clubs.
Now, Tim says that there is more awareness of when things are happening. He says without digital signage, “the middle school kids wouldn’t have a clue about when our varsity events were taking place.”
Positivity on Social Media with #SocialSchool4EDU
Positivity doesn’t stop at the school’s doors. Cannon Falls works with #SocialSchool4EDU, a company that specializes in social media strategies for schools, to spread positive messaging online to its community.
Tim commented, “We’ve seen really good results from using [SocialSchool4EDU].” On a superficial level, since working with #SocialSchool4EDU, the school’s Facebook account has seen a large uptick in engagement.
The school and district is focused on using social media as a positive way to show the community what it does and what the kids are doing on a daily basis in the classroom.
Keeping the Negativity Out of the School
Tim says, “as a principal, [he] often sees a lot of just negative stuff from social media. [He] really does not have the most positive opinion about social media especially for students because of how negative it has been for a lot of kids.”
It’s well documented that the current mental health crisis of kids is tied to social media. To help support the students, the district has adopted a policy of no cellphones during the day. Middle school aged students have to keep their cell phones in their locker. High school students are allowed to keep their phones on them, but the phones have to be put away during instruction time.
With the adoption of this policy, Tim says he is dealing with far less issues than he used to in terms of bullying, harassments.
Rise Vision Helps Cannon Falls Create a Positive School Environment and Celebrate Achievements
The partnership between Cannon Falls Area Schools and Rise Vision stands as an example to the power of efficient communication and positive reinforcement within a school community. Principal Tim Hodges, donning multiple roles, seamlessly integrates digital signage into the school’s communication plan, making weekly updates a breeze. The collaborative effort not only streamlines information dissemination but also fosters a vibrant, celebratory atmosphere, recognizing achievements, both current and past, and reinforcing the commitment to a positive school culture at Cannon Falls.