Goshen Community Schools is embracing social media as a tool to engage students

Goshen High School encourages teachers and administrators to interact with students using social media. Many school departments even have Twitter accounts where kids can ask questions and get updates.

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.

Goshen High School is meeting kids where they are: on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Principal Barry Younghans said school administration decided about 10 years ago that they couldn't just take away every student's phone.

So instead, the school is embracing social media and teaching kids to use it "like you would in the adult world, when it's appropriate," Younghans said. 

Most school departments have a Twitter account, and staff members regularly tweet information to students using creative hashtags like #awesomeartstudents and #funwiththeprincipal. 

Younghans, who contributes to the popular Goshen Principal Twitter account, said he uses humor to connect with students.

When he posted a tweet with typos and students pointed out his mistakes, he decided to make fun of himself. His next tweet apologized for the mistakes and included #fatfingers.

"I try to make it funny without being demeaning to anything or without hurting anybody," he said. "I have this ginormous cell phone and the kids make fun of me…and I play that up, I make fun of my age, and the kids think that’s a stitch."



The school newspaper is jumping on board with a selfie contest, asking students to submit pictures they take of themselves with cell phones. 

Some of the selfies will be used to advertise the newspaper, which some students don't know about now that it's only online, teacher Sarah Noah said. 

Noah teaches English and is the faculty supervisor for the student paper. 

She said newspaper students are learning how to effectively use social media to get more students reading the paper online.

"As a newspaper we started social media last year and we weren't too good at it," she said. "This year, they want to improve."

The newspaper experimented with sending a student reporter along on a band trip to Atlanta last year, and were happily surprised when hundreds of Goshen residents followed along with the student's tweets about what was happening. 

"The community really enjoyed that they got to see what the kids were doing while they were there," Noah said.

Younghans said that zero tolerance policies and requiring kids to keep phones in lockers during the school day isn't a good way to handle technology that's a constant presence in most students' lives.

"We are using it," he said. "There’s some growing pains that go with that, and we have some of that. But the flip side is that we try to manage it in a way that makes sense."

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks


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