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:

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

The Schedule

10/19/2022 10 AM - 11 AM EASTERN

Session #1 The Importance and Challenge of School Home Communications

This session serves as the foundation for the work ahead. In this module, Patricia will introduce you or your team to the intersection of family engagement and communication and the cultural and systemic barriers to home/school communication. You will work through examples that lift up the concepts. By the end of the session, you will have a greater ability to recognize communications that don’t work and a strong foundation to create communications that do.

11/16/2022 10 AM - 11 AM EASTERN

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 gives you the skills you need to effectively “translate” those words and acronyms. Learn how just little changes in wording can have a big impact when it comes to building relationships. By the end of this session, you will have the tools to immediately improve critical written and spoken school communications.

01/18/2023 10 AM - 11 AM EASTERN

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 you learn how to pare information down into digestible, useful pieces that can help you build trust and family engagement.

02/15/2023 10 AM - 11 AM EASTERN

Session #4 Non-Verbal Communication

Words matter. But how we string words together and how we say words can often matter more. Non-verbal communication makes up between 65 percent and 85 percent of communication. Improving non-verbal communication starts with an awareness of families. But it also involves an awareness of what else might be going on in your life and attention to things like body language. In this session, you will learn simple tips and techniques you can use to ensure that tone and body language are helping build the relationships.

03/18/2023 10 AM - 11 AM EASTERN

Session #5 Challenging Communications

Every relationship occasionally requires difficult conversations and communications. The same is true in our relationships with our families. The key to challenging conversations or communications 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 difficult communications. They’ll learn how to set the stage for these interactions, how to begin and end communications, and how to respond to the emotions of families.

4/19/2023 10 AM - 11 AM EASTERN

Session #6 Creating Lasting Change

In the final learning session, Patricia offers suggestions to help you set goals for your school-home communication work. She’ll give you ideas on how to create buy-in with your staff and tools to help engage parents so the work becomes part of your school culture. You will also receive practical tips to help develop school/home communication plans tailored to your school improvement goals. And, this session will also serve as a “wrap-up” of the larger course and will address any issues, questions, or concerns that have bubbled up throughout the year.

Date & Time TBD

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!

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

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    Individual - $750Base package - $3,600Premium package - $3,850

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