Scoping Out a School

Before I visit a school, I explore the school’s website try to find out as much as I can such as

  • Location & directions (obviously)
  • School mascot
  • School colors
  • Upcoming special events
  • Total population
  • Minority population
  • Number of classes per grade level


This information gives me a feel for the approximate sizes of the audiences I’ll be seeing and how many handouts I’ll need for workshops. When I drop in a mention of the mascot or colors, this makes an instant connection with the kids. While I often get some of this information from my host, I just found out about a tool to use for demographics: SARC (the School Accountability Report Card).

 For SARC, public schools annually provide information about themselves to the community allowing the public to evaluate and compare schools for student achievement, environment, resources and demographics.

Taking into account your website search, your host’s information and SARC, these rich sources of data can help you prepare better for your school visit and help you make a stronger connection to your young audience as well as their teachers.

 To see examples forNew YorkandCalifornia, go to

New York



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One Comment on “Scoping Out a School”

  • Great advice! I always check to see what the school mascot is–and often I’ve written a book about the animal already! It’s amazing how many schools have eagles, bobcats, lions, or hawks as mascots–all animals I’ve written about.

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