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School Communications Masterclass Professional Learning Series

Instructor: Patricia Weinzapfel

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Meet your instructor

Patricia Weinzapfel brings more than 30 years of experience to her work. She spent 15 years in broadcast journalism and later, built a career in education as the executive director of family engagement for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in Indiana.

These days, Patricia combines her two areas of expertise into one…helping schools use communication to strengthen the bond between the school and home. She travels the country speaking at education conferences and working with school district teams to promote the benefits of clear, effective, and meaningful school communication. She has written a book on the topic and provides a series of workshops, training modules, and educational materials to help educators communicate with a focus on simple, clear and effective language.

The Experience

Patricia’s School Communications Masterclass Professional Learning Series is available to both individuals and school district teams and includes (6) hour-long practical learning sessions, each focusing on a critical area of school communications. In addition to interactive virtual sessions, all participants will have an opportunity to engage in (2) optional hour-long coaching sessions. Coaching sessions are conducted with teams, in the case of districts or 1:1, in the case of individuals.

(6) 60-min. interactive learning sessions

Each of Patricia’s sessions combine information sharing, group discussion, and guided activities. The workshops are full of examples from schools and from broadcast journalism. Every 10 to 15 minutes, participants will engage in a new activity or discussion intended to help them immediately apply their communications knowledge to problems of practice.



Patricia's playbook for Clear, Effective & Meaningful School Communication

(2) 60-MIN. COACHING SESSIONS (Optional)

In the weeks following the workshops, Patricia will provide two-hour-long coaching sessions for you and/or your team. The coaching sessions are designed to ensure that you have what you need to embed her work into your daily practices of communicating with families.

The Outcomes

Learning Goals:

  • Recognize and identify both effective and ineffective communication.
  • Draw on the knowledge of parents and schools to design parent-friendly communications and at-home learning activities.
  • Feel capable of having, and empowered to make the most of, conversations with families.
  • Engage parents and community partners in school-home communications.
  • Use suggestions and ideas to design the next steps for your communication work.

The Schedule

Session 1: The Importance of Meeting the Challenge

This session serves as the foundation for the work ahead. Patricia introduces the intersection of family engagement and communication and the cultural and systemic barriers to school-home communication, and participants will work through examples that lift up these concepts. By the end of the session, educators will be able to better recognize ineffective communication and will possess a strong foundation to create powerful connections with families.

Session 2: The Words We Use

Sometimes the language we use to explain school practices and goals to families is complicated and full of educational jargon and acronyms. This session will show how even small changes in wording can have a big impact when it comes to building relationships with families. By the end of the session, educators will have the tools and the skills to effectively “translate” those specialized words and acronyms into everyday language to immediately improve critical written and spoken school communications.

Session 3: Information Overload

The amount of information that our schools send home, how we send it home, and what we send home can often cause parents to tune us out and disengage. That’s why it’s important to give parents and caregivers the information they want to know and need to know in ways that cut through their busy lives. Just as students require differentiated instruction, families require differentiated approaches to communication. In this session, Patricia helps participants learn how to pare information down into digestible, useful pieces that can help build trust and family engagement.

Session 4: Non-Verbal Communication

Words matter. But how we string words together and how we say words can often matter more. Nonverbal communication makes up 65 to 85 percent of communication. Improving nonverbal communication starts with a better awareness of families—who they are, what their concerns are, and what may be going on in their lives. But it also involves an awareness of what else might be going on in your life and paying attention to things like tone and body language. In this session, participants will learn how to become more aware of nonverbal signals, and the simple tips and techniques they can use to ensure that tone and body language are helping build relationships.

Session 5: Challenging Conversations

Every relationship occasionally requires difficult conversations and communication. The same is true in our relationships with families. The key to turning challenging conversations or communications into satisfying and productive ones is to look at them as opportunities to build even deeper bonds with our families. In this session, participants will work through their fears about having difficult conversations and discover how to set the stage for them. They’ll also learn how to begin and end a challenging conversation, and how to respond to the emotions of families.

Session 6: Creating Lasting Change

In the final learning session, Patricia offers suggestions to help you create buy-in with staff. Participants will receive practical tips to help develop a school-home communication plan tailored to their specific improvement goals. This session also serves as a review, giving participants the opportunity to revisit any questions or specific challenges they face in their daily communication with families.

Optional: Coaching Session #1 – One On One with You/Your Team

In the month following the end of the learning session, Patricia will provide you with an hour-long coaching session to help you plan the “next steps” in their school/home communication work. Together, the two of you will set concrete, measurable goals for your work. Patricia will also spend time talking through any challenges you’re having with implementing the tips and techniques outlined in the sessions and help you brainstorm ways to overcome those challenges.

Date & Time TBD

Optional: Coaching Session #2 – Follow-Up Session

Patricia will provide a second hour-long coaching session. This session will be your chance to lift up any concerns, questions, or issues so you and Patricia can work through them together. To help plan the hour, Patricia will contact you ahead of time and together you will set the agenda. This will ensure that the coaching hour is perfectly tailored to where you are with your work. The goal is for you to have exactly what you need to be successful with your home/school communications.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of your trainings this year and found them all to be incredibly helpful. We were quickly able to implement your strategies and it made a world of difference in our school and family communications. We specifically incorporated your training on 5 cent vs $5.00 words and "the best friend" strategy. These were simple and easy for our teachers to use and families appreciated the simple and precise language. I hope that we can continue working with you!

Lauren Milford

East Jackson Middle School, Jackson County Public Schools (GA)
Intervention Specialist and Family Engagement Coordinator

What people are saying about the presentations

ESC of Northeast Ohio

I loved this class! Patricia was super engaging and I feel like I really gained a lot of knowledge and insight from these classes. The group we had was open and honest and I believe we all gained a lot of communication skills that will be put to good use!

Maria Ovalle-LopezDirector Family Engagement, Klein ISD

Patricia Weinzapfel delivered powerful content empowering family facing professionals to refine their communication skills and positively engage families in education. She shared real examples of best communication practices that gave participants the opportunity to problem- solve and apply the content immediately!

Charlene PaparizosDirector of Communications, Chagrin Falls Schools

Patricia's work will enhance your overall communication skills. In our District, our goal is to build trust, foster collaboration, and ensure that our messages are clearly understood. Patricia's master class and year-long coaching with our administrators and staff is leading us even closer to accomplishing this goal. We use Patricia's tips and tools to communicate with families, as well as internally with staff. I even find myself remembering her advice in conversations with friends and family. For me, her work is not only professional development, but personal development. That combination is hard to find.

IEL 2021 Conference Attendee

Patricia was amazing!!!!! She was very knowledgeable and her examples were great!

NSPRA 2021 Conference Attendee

I’ve already implemented some of these strategies into my district communications.

ESC of Northeast Ohio

The series was set up with discussions, hands on applications, time to ask questions and plan ahead. From the beginning to end it was worthwhile time spent spent focusing on specifically on communication to families.

NSPRA 2021 Conference Attendee

Best virtual session, in my opinion. Excellent and engaging presentation.

NSPRA 2021 Conference Attendee via Twitter

Your tips are already impacting my work this morning as I craft a parent communication. Your work truly makes a difference.

Kids Count Conference 2019 Attendee

Great Examples of real-life situations and fun activities that get the points across in a memorable way.

ESC of Northeast Ohio

The Masterclass is beneficial to groom and grow your ability to effectively communicate to all stakeholders. It diminishes many preconceived ideas and replaces them with new simple innovative ways to communicate across all forms of media. This class is a must take if you are an intricate part of the communications team within your District.

What's the cost?



1 Person

(6) 60-min interactive learning sessions

Add on (2) Individual Coaching Sessions or an additional 90-min team working session

Post assessments

Playbook for Clear, Effective & Meaningful School Communication

Additional 90-min team working session


Team: Base Package

Team of 5

(6) 60-min interactive learning sessions

(2) 60-min coaching sessions

Post assessments

Playbook for Clear, Effective & Meaningful School Communication

Additional 90-min team working session


Team: Premium Package

Team of 5

(6) 60-min interactive learning sessions

(2) 60-min coaching sessions

Post assessments

Playbook for Clear, Effective & Meaningful School Communication

Additional 90-min team working session

Schedule a consultation

Are you interested in multiple teams or doing this for your school district? Send us a message using the form below.

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