After producing a series of promotional videos for Oneness Family School, a Montessori school, I sat down with the Director of Admissions and Marketing, Chris McLeod, who worked directly with our team on this project. You can watch the promotional videos the MLP team produced on Culture, Language, and Mathematics. Learn more by visiting their website.
Q: Mark Leisher Productions recently worked with Oneness Family School to produce a series of promotional videos. Can you tell me what were these videos all about? What was the goal or goals of these videos?
A: It started two years ago, when we did some videos to talk about the overall message of the the school. What we decided is that we had to do some videos that spoke more about what we do in the classroom. So we spoke to Mark and the team about the best way to do that. So, the goals of these video were to actually show the parents, and the parents on the outside, what are the academics behind the Montessori curriculum. That’s always a challenge we have as a school. And so we came to MLP and talked to them about what we wanted to do. They gave us some really great insight and direction on how to show those videos.
Q: Why did you choose to focus on Montessori learning with Oneness Family School after watching these videos?
A: As far as the reason why we wanted to focus on the learning, what we realized is that as much as our parents loved the culture, and the philosophy of the school, they really had no idea about what we were actually doing in the classroom. We’ve been finding over the many years that parents were leaving the school, because they didn’t think we were doing certain things academically, even though we did. They just didn’t know about it. We realized we needed to do a better job of communicating the value that we bring in the classroom so that our current parents would know that and might think twice about leaving the school to go get something that actually they already have.
Q: Tell me about the reaction from parents; Why will parents in the DC area want their children to attend Oneness Family School?
A: The main thing we realized is that our job as a Montessori school that’s in an area of traditional schools, and parents that are more familiar with traditional schools, is to make that translation for them. I think a lot times you find that Montessori schools are confined within themselves and expect outside families to immediately see the greatness of Montessori and get it, and sign up for it. I think that might work in an area where there aren’t a lot of options, but you have to factor in what the external environment is.
In an environment like Washington, D.C. there are a lot of great schools. Our school is not the only show in town, and because of that we can’t just rely on the fact that people will automatically be able to recognize our greatness. If they’re not familiar with Montessori, it’s hard for them to make that leap in their minds.”I have this child and I’m familiar with the traditional school model, because I went through the traditional school model and I expect my child to go through it, so know how do it make that transition?”
So the point of these videos was really to allow both current parents and prospective parents to understand what they’re familiar with, and how that translates into Montessori. And so I’ve shown the videos to a few parents. I’ve even shown them to a few administrators at other Montessori schools, and they’re raving about it because they feel like it is part of the missing pieces that Montessori school just in general kind of struggle with.
Q: So do you think the video component fills in the missing piece to achieving that understanding?
A: Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any argument that video is the new mode of communication for the past five, ten years when it comes to content. I’m really big on video, so I was glad to work with MLP. I was glad that MLP is local and that I’m able to work with a partner like MLP, who really brings that video to life.
Q: What did you enjoy most about this project with Mark Leisher Productions? Did you have a memorable experience or interaction?
A: What I enjoyed the most about working with MLP is that in a sense I felt like MLP was more of a partner than a vendor. The part I enjoyed the most was to be able to come into the offices and to collaborate on the post-production and the editing. I think that actually served two purposes. The first is that it really allowed for us to feel like we were a part of the process in a real way. The second thing is that it did a great job to create that by-in on the inside of our school. When I came in, I brought the Program Director, so she felt her fingerprint was on these videos.
When we got back to the school, this was something she was a champion of amongst the administrative team, the management team and the parents; being able to come into the office to be part of that editing process and to put in the final shots in and select shots. Being involved was a huge thing, and was probably what I enjoyed the most.
Q: On the website for Oneness Family School, there is a blurb about the new Montessori High School that is set to open this September. Why did Oneness Family School decide to open a high school?
A: Well, the reason we decided to open up the school is because one, a lot of families who were at the school were sad that when they had to leave the 8th grade, they couldn’t continue their Montessori experience. It’s been happening ever since we’ve been open. They kept on asking for that to continue, that Oneness Family school experience. And the other reason is because we felt that it was important to really be able to have this sort of learning in the D.C. area, that really takes the learning outside the box and does not put it in traditional form. Our high school is going be a Montessori high school. Our learning and the curriculum is going to be like college, so it’s not going to be confined to these subjects, but it’s going to be based on themes. Themes like global connectedness and things like that.
The school is also going to be more about the partnerships with organizations and businesses in the D.C. area. We’re not going to be in the classroom all day, just learning stuff off the chalkboard, but we’re going to have speakers come in as a part of the curriculum. We’re going to take the students out into the business, these workforce environments, and NGOs to really connect their learning to the real word; to realize that what you’re learning in class is a real issue that the world is dealing with right now, and it’s not just sort of in a textbook.
Q: I feel like when I was in high school, everyday someone would ask “Well how do I use this in real life? Why are we learning this?” and sometimes the teachers couldn’t give us a great answer.
A: To that I would say, imagine a school where that was the center-point of the learning; how this applies to real life. It’s not something that someone has to ask, but it is ingrained as a natural part of the curriculum. In a sense, what you’re doing is taking real life and putting it into the classroom, as opposed to learning about a subject area and figuring out wherein real life this applies.