EdPolicy Leaders Online is pleased to introduce our first featured participant, Lauren Heiger. Lauren recently completed Communications Boot Camp: Winning the Ed Reform Conversation, one of ExcelinEd’s three free, self-paced online courses available for policymakers through EdPolicy Leaders Online.
Lauren currently serves as the Communications Director for the Majority Caucus in the Missouri State Senate and is responsible for writing press releases and coordinating with local and statewide media. Her previous career work includes working as the New Media Director for Missouri Victory and the Romney campaign in 2012 and as a broadcast news anchor for KODE-TV in Joplin, Missouri. She was named one of the “Top 100 People in Politics” by The Missouri Times in 2013. Lauren graduated from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Political Science. Lauren grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, and currently resides in South St. Louis City, but she commutes frequently to Missouri’s Capitol in Jefferson City every week.
We asked Lauren:
Why are you passionate about education reform?
Currently in Missouri, we have a dire need for education reform. For far too long, thousands of Missouri students have been trapped in failing school districts with little chance of receiving the quality education they deserve. The status quo is no longer acceptable. We need to develop a long-term policy that will make some systematic changes to our state’s education system. Students are the lifeline for the future. We need to invest in our future by preparing our students to serve the future intellectual, economic and social needs of Missouri. Having educational choices will also strengthen our school system and protect our students from failure.
Why did you enroll in EdPolicy Leaders Online?
I currently work as the Communications Director for the Majority Caucus in the Missouri State Senate. Education reform is a key issue the Legislature faces each session. I enrolled in EdPolicy Leaders Online to improve my work performance. Each session we continue to push the message of education reform, but I wanted something fresh, some bold new ideas to try. I wanted to become a more effective communicator especially when trying to share our education reform message.
What was your biggest take away from Communications Boot Camp: Winning the Ed Reform Conversation?
My biggest takeaway from the Communications Boot Camp was the section that reminded me our message should be simple. It’s so easy to try to fit 10 bullet points into one press release, but it’s much harder to simplify the message to make sure I engage the audience. I also thoroughly enjoyed the section on “Harnessing the Power of Digital and Social Media.” While I use social media at Missouri’s Capitol, it changes so much so quickly. It’s really nice to get a good, updated overview. Because of my early journalism roots, it’s good to be reminded that not all people receive their news the standard way. Many are solely getting their news now through social and digital media. The important question to always ask is “what is my end goal?” I think this question will help me identify and better use our social media platforms to push our message.
Did the course help to address specific challenges you face in your current role? How can it help other policymakers and staffers?
I believe this course also helped bring me back to the basics. Remembering what I want to accomplish with a certain message and begin to craft that message with the goal in mind can greatly help me tailor my idea for my audience. This course not only was beneficial to me, but I believe I can use the information I learned and help my senators better drive their message to their constituents. I now have a much better list of tools they can easily use to relay their message.
To begin your own learning experience, sign up for EdPolicy Leaders Online today.
Click the links below to read more EdFly blog posts about EdPolicy Leaders Online.
- EdPolicy Leaders Online: Access to Education’s Top Experts
- MOOCs with a Purpose: Using Online Learning to Educate Policymakers
- The Link Between K-12 Education and National Security
- Winning the Ed Reform Conversation
- Education Is Too Important To Be Run On Hunches
About the author
Samantha is the Policy Coordinator for the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s new initiative, EdPolicy Leaders Online. Before joining ExcelinEd, Samantha served as an advocacy intern for the Foundation for Florida's Future while simultaneously pursuing her master's in Public Administration from Florida State University. Samantha has also served as a teaching assistant for international schools in England and Switzerland. She received her bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Central Florida in 2012.