Scholastic aims at first class

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The new Scholastic initiative offers new teachers support in their new jobs
The new Scholastic initiative offers new teachers support in their new jobs

In preparation for the upcoming school year, Scholas­tic has launched a new program aimed at first-year teachers in an effort to target the brand to this coveted demographic.

The online portal, called First Class: Resources, Tools and Tips for New Teachers, is supported by every division of Scholastic, offering materials, support, advice and interactive features to help new teachers navigate their first year in the classroom.

The site also features coupons and special offers for Scholastic books and teaching materials. Teachers will be able to register to receive targeted newsletters on the site.

Nelson Hitchcock, SVP of cor­porate marketing at Scholastic, said that the company had two objectives with the launch of First Class: “Scholastic touches almost every teacher in this country, so any time we can reach teachers and introduce them to products and services that can help them do their job, we're thrilled,” he explained. “Plus, we have a mis­sion to serve teachers. So the site is also about helping teachers feel better about doing their jobs.”

Scholastic will leverage its multi­ple preexisting contacts in the edu­cation world to get new teachers to the site. Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs, which maintain databases of teacher contacts and often contact teachers in the sum­mer before the school year, will promote First Class. Teachers that are already on Scholastic's e-mail lists will receive promotional mail­ings, asking them to inform new teachers at their schools. Scholastic is also improving its SEM efforts so that First Class will show up in new teachers' online searches.

“Scholastic has high awareness among teachers — that connec­tion is something we treasure and count on,” Hitchcock noted. “In the research we did for First Class and from focus group informa­tion, [we learned] that new teach­ers are Web savvy and aware of how to find resources. They look at every source that will help them do their job. So, with our using the appropriate SEM skills and marketing tools, we're trying to find them. But they will find us, if we don't.”

First Class is not Scholastic's first effort to reach out to new teachers, but the company has never attempted to do so with all of its corporate divisions united under a single banner. Hitchcock said this combined effort provides a curatorial advantage by bringing together all of the company's resources.

Scholastic will be closely measuring the site's stickiness — whether users return multiple times, use First Class frequently or stay on the site long enough to engage with the content.

Hitchcock said that if these rates are high, “that means we're delivering on the prom­ise that this actually does provide a service.” He added that cutting down on the new-teacher burnout rate was a key impetus in starting First Class and will be critical in measuring the program's success.

Scholastic and other publishers are not alone among companies looking for loyalty from teachers during the back-to-school season. These astute consumers also are coveted by office supply chains, as teachers work hard to stock their classrooms.

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