Joel Slofstra once heard Rhema Christian School in Peterborough referred to as the city’s best-kept secret. As the small school’s principal, he wasn’t flattered by the phrase.
“I don’t want to be a secret,” he says. “I want to make sure that our community knows who we are and what we have to offer in terms of a Christian education.”
And so the push for greater visibility in the community began. He and his staff have been seizing opportunities to host community members at the school, while actively taking part in events throughout the region.
As an example of community outreach, Slofstra, along with a teacher and parent, braved the icy waters of Chemong Lake north of Peterborough for the annual Polar Plunge earlier this month in support of local Rotarians.
Fun events such as these draw lots of attention, says Slofstra, and present opportunities to support local causes while raising the school’s profile.
This type of networking is a key component in Slofstra’s growth strategy. He cites the school’s ongoing relationship with the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and a new partnership with the Peterborough chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life this year as examples of how a small organization can network in a big way.
On March 1, he and the Relay for Life team will host the chamber’s monthly Business after Hours event at the school where he expects upwards of 120 businesspeople from the area to attend.
As host, he’ll offer tours and make a presentation to the group while showcasing his grounds as the site for the 2011 Peterborough Relay for Life, to be held in June.
The annual fundraiser is expected to draw around1,500 people to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Slofstra says the event will be a win-win for his school.
“We try to teach our children the importance of service,” he says, “so events like these serve two purposes. We are serving in the community, but we’re also getting our name out there.”