New communications director focused on engaging local parents
With a background in television news production, public relations, advertising and marketing, Autumn Foster found there were a lot of similarities she wasn't necessarily expecting when she transitioned to school communications with the Canby School District in spring 2016.
In June, Foster accepted the position of communications coordinator for the Newberg School District and with the school year just weeks away, she's putting her well-honed skills to good use to help keep parents connected to what their children are doing in the classroom.
"Above all else, I'm a parent and I believe in public education and I support it wholeheartedly," Foster said. "I think it's great to know what's going on inside our classrooms and that's my main focus right now, to kind of peel back the curtain and let parents know what we're doing here in Newberg and how we're preparing students for the future."
Foster also has found her experience with crisis management and regularly communicating with large groups of people has been helpful now that she's working in education, but one skill in particular is playing a big role in how she's approaching parent engagement.
"One of the things you do in news is communicate to people in a way that everyone can understand," Foster said. "I think in education, sometimes, that gets missed. Sometimes we talk over parents. They're not in the system and don't speak in the same way."
Foster will also put her ample experience creating video content to good use in her new position.
After graduating from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in 1999, she worked as a television news manager and executive producer for 12 years at Portland stations KGW, KPTV and KOIN. She intends to use video as a major tool to inform parents and intends to make it widely available through social media.
"I really want to reach parents where they are," Foster said. "I want to make the information accessible no matter what language someone speaks. I think it's important that video tells a story that you can't tell with words. I think it will be great for parents to see what's going on in the classroom, at an assembly, at events."
Foster brings personal experience to the situation, as her children attend school in Newberg.
"I know for me, when I see something on Facebook from my daughter's school, it makes me feel more connected," Foster said. "I know what happened there that day. When she comes home, I can say, 'Oh my gosh, you had an assembly. How was it?' So it's really connecting me with what's happening for her day to day because if you ask a 10-year old, 'What happened in school today?' the answer is always 'Nothing.'"
Foster said she was also interested in the Newberg position because it represented a chance to move into a leadership role within the district leadership team, which she respected as a parent, but the biggest factor in her decision to leave Canby was pretty simple.
"I'm emotionally invested in the decisions that this district makes," Foster said, "so that is really what pushed me to make the move."