by Julia O’Halloran Faraci
Green Street Teaching and Learning Center is one of Middletown’s cornerstone arts organizations. Opened in the North End in 2005 as the Green Street Arts Center (GSAC), it is a collaboration between the City, the North End Action Team (NEAT) and Wesleyan University. In 2015, GSAC’s tenth year, it combined with the Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS), encompassing the mission of the organization to work with children and teachers in art, science, and math.
Green Street provides a wide range of services to the Middletown community as part of its mission. Many children from the North End neighborhood and beyond attend after-school classes in the arts, sciences, and math. The Wesleyan Bound program opens up
possibilities of college to middle-school children. Homeschool students meet for classes and activities. Green Street To Go provides a traveling program to provide arts participation to the community; Connecticut Valley Hospital and Ädelbrook Behavioral & Developmental Services are also served. The mission also includes professional development for teachers and artists including arts integration workshops and statewide Science Safety Workshops.
As part of Wesleyan’s Center for Community Partnerships, Green Street Teaching and Learning Center (Green Street TLC), shares Wesleyan’s web platform, Cascade; however Green Street uses an embedded WordPress site for its blog. The Director, Sara MacSorley, is the administrator of Green Street’s social media presence.
MacSorley says that Facebook is the most effective platform for her audience, which includes mostly parents of Green Street’s students, the Wesleyan community, and artists. Static pages provide basic information such as schedules and upcoming programs. She uses the Administrator “Insights” page to review the impacts of posts. She noted that videos are particularly popular, garnering “engagement” post clicks of likes, comments, and shares; links are also popular and photos, especially of the children at programs. She also monitors “likes” and “unlikes” by date. MacSorley notes active times when families start their day in the morning, peaking before bedtime. She will sometimes schedule her material to be posted during peak times.
MacSorley commented that she follows a “70-30” rule for Green Street’s posts. Seventy percent of the time, her posts are “fun”, “engaging”, “interesting”. Only thirty percent of the time will she ask for anything or do any fundraising.
The social media presence for a non-profit should strongly feature a logo, photos, and other branding. They must provide clear direction for their web presence, in order to protect their reputation and their branding. Shares and posts must be carefully monitored. Posts from the Mayor, Wesleyan, NEAT, are shared; anything that could be construed as political is not.
Green Street uses Twitter for events and for classes that need to be publicized for signup. Tweets are directed to the Middletown Press, to Middletown Youth Services, and other Wesleyan groups; Tweets from those groups are retweeted. Again, knowledge of the audience is important; Twitter is popular with middle-school kids, as it’s a way to get around the cost of texting.
Lists are used for Green Street’s varied audiences; often appearing in Green Street’s “trending” feed is “science communicators”, which includes teachers, national science writers, and college and university writers. Freelancers in particular up visibility because they tend to promote each other. @Sci_Art, in particular, sponsors live chats on Sundays. MacSorley curates her multiple Twitter accounts with Tweetdeck.
To a lesser extent, the organization uses its blog to publish accounts of classes and events, especially featuring photos of students participating in the programs.
Building readership of the organization’s Facebook and Twitter accounts is key to announce and publicize Green Street events and to build community involvement.