Sitting in his brown upholstered rickety chair, Victor was letting the phone ring while he was deep in his thoughts... exhausted and overwhelmed. He was eating “lunch” (a granola bar) at 4:30 pm.
Victor is a Brazilian Christian, tall with cocoa skin, thick brown hair and brown eyes.
Having never known his parents, he was raised in a series of foster homes in Sao Paolo.
Pastor Mendes had been like a father to him all his life. He helped him move to Arizona and got him a place to stay through the Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. He'd even supported him all through his teaching degree at Cochise College.
Now Victor had been the principal of this small Catholic elementary school for over six years.
The afternoon we first chatted he was in the depths of defeat. He told me how that morning he had stood in the staff lounge doorway and used every ounce of restraint in his body not to break down and cry. His past had taught him to endure most hardships.
However, this level of frustration would break even the toughest of principals.
He was putting in the hours, doing all he could. Still, the turnaround was moving at a snail's pace.
His predecessor had handed him a nightmarish situation which included an empty bank account, demotivated staff, negative reviews, and a bad reputation.
He was extremely reluctant to start working with us. He said, "you guys are the last bullet in my chamber. My budget is minus $200."
On our fourth call, I remember asking him: "What's the alternative? What are your options? Incremental progress will only take you so far. When that first family enrolls through your ads, you won't have just paid for your investment; you'll have breathed new life into your team.
Enrollments mean cash but they're also votes of confidence. It is a parent saying, 'I shopped around but I love what you people are doing and what you stand for. I trust you so let's partner in raising my kid.'"
We helped Victor present to his board; joined them over video conference. Although at first very skeptical we finally got them on our side.
We convinced them to re-allocate a couple of budget lines, and we were off to the races.
The school had a bad reputation and increasingly fierce competition. It also had a great, truly differentiated, curriculum and a set of top-notch educators.
It took us fifteen days to deliver their marketing plan.
We would hyper-target 30-55-year-old, middle-income mothers that shopped at Fry's Food Stores and lived within a 15-mile radius.
We decided to double down on the school's meticulous integration of STEAM with a profoundly religious, faith-based curriculum. This is what made them stand out from the crowd of schools in their community. It was the one thing they offered that no other school did.
Through a series of 10 campaigns over a six month period, we also tackled a series of objections we've come to know most Catholic parents carry in their subconscious:
- What are the advantages of enrolling my child in a private Catholic school?
- How will going to a new school affect our day-to-day lives?
- What are my funding options?
- What are the academics like at the school?
- What is the atmosphere like at the school?
- Are there athletics options for my child?
- How are STEAM, Math & Science achievements incorporated into the curriculum?
- Can my child learn a new language?
- How have their graduates performed in secondary and higher education?
It took us seven weeks to start seeing results. It snowballed from there.
Following 15 months of exhaustive, grueling enrollment growth, we are proud that their students no longer fit in their classrooms.
We are now helping Victor fundraise for a new building.