When we think of how to leverage alumni to advance our schools, we primarily think about our graduates as future donors or volunteers. Less often do we think about storytelling, and how we can utilize the hundreds or thousands of alumni in our networks to share the impact of their distinct experiences learning and growing up in a fully immersive Jewish space.
Attending Jewish day school isn’t just about receiving a “formal” Jewish education. In Jewish day school, students are fully immersed in a unique community space surrounded by Hebrew letters on the walls, menschlichkeit values engraved into the pillars, Jewish history, culture, texts, friends and mentors. Beyond the years students spend in these school walls is a lifetime of ideals, morals, and principles that shape who we become.
I started attending Jewish day school in the third grade, and I can without a doubt say that this trajectory forever changed my learning, interests, friends, and family. My ten years in this unique educational space engraved in me my love for Israel, my passion for Jewish history and culture, my strong ethics, religious practices and beliefs, values, and so much more. It changed how my family practices Judaism. What we chose to eat, wear, and celebrate. What we choose to advocate for, work toward, and support. My time in day school shaped what clubs I involved myself with in college, what sorority I chose to join, what type of friends I chose to make. It shaped what my first job out of college looked like, and what type of career path I would choose thereafter.
To say the least, without my Jewish day school experiences, I could be living a totally different life.
Everyone who works in or is connected to a Jewish day school knows and understands its unique essence and value. We are committed to shaping the Jewish future, to keeping traditions alive, to ensuring the longevity of our peoplehood.
In the study of consumer psychology, we learn that when marketing any product, service, or experience, it is critical to understand your target audience’s needs and motivations, and work to fulfill both their functional and higher order motivations and goals. Let me explain.
Functional goals are conscious goals we create for ourselves, like writing a shopping list before going to the grocery store. When choosing a school, there are basic functional goals parents consider. These are fact based, intellectual goals and motivations that fulfill basic needs like: a high-quality education, an easy commute, diverse meal plan, strong curriculum, etc. These are the pretty factoids we normally add to school brochures and websites.
Then, there are higher order goals. These are inspirational, emotional, and tap directly into the hearts of your prospective audience. When you can tap into higher order goals, you are able to influence actions. For school marketing professionals, this translates to telling compelling stories through emotional messaging to influence actions (for example: enrolling their children in Jewish day school because they too want their children to become value-driven, responsible, knowledgeable Jewish adults).
This is the power of leveraging alumni stories.
A National Campaign
In September 2022, Prizmah embarked on a mission to elevate Jewish day school alumni to widely share and articulate the value proposition of Jewish day schools. Who better to share the distinct worth than products of day school themselves? We interviewed dozens of alumni from across North America, and asked simple questions like, “How did your Jewish day school experience impact you ?” and “What values did you learn in Jewish day school that have been cornerstone to your life?” The answers we received were far more incredible than we could have imagined.
As alumni shared their stories of gratitude, we continued to be affirmed in our belief that Jewish day school was unlike any other schooling environment. It isn’t just a place where kids go to learn math, science, English, plus some Hebrew and Jewish studies thrown in there. Instead, it became obvious that this totally unique and fully immersive environment is where students become responsible, caring, value driven Jews.
Here are just a few of the testaments to the value and impact of a Jewish day school education:
" Jewish day school formed the way I think, the way I act, the way I interact with others, and how I see the world. I always had teachers who believed in me, and that confidence in who I was as a student, allowed me to feel confident in every new experience”- Elana Hasson
“Talmudic education trained my mind for Law school, for the types of problem solving and creative thinking that I apply in every aspect of my life. Those values become the lens through which good business decisions are made.” - Lawrence Burian
“Through school I have a deep desire to leave the world better than I found it, and I definitely think that it very much goes back to the foundation of values that I learned from a young age.“- Melissa Kushner
Click here to find the full archive of released #JDSalmniproud videos
What’s Next? Your Turn!
As the school year comes to a close, and you say “see you later” to another group of graduates, now is an important time to recognize that alumni can be a powerful tool in sharing the one-of-a-kind value of your school and community. Whether through emotionally evocative video footage, written testimonials, career day speakers, or news features, we encourage you to magnify and amplify the amazing places your alumni have gone, the extraordinary things your graduates are doing, and how their Jewish education laid a strong foundational path for them as a way to boost your school’s individual value and disposition.