I recently drove my son to his doctor appointment. I hadn’t been to this doctor’s office in nearly a year and didn’t have directions, but I had a pretty good idea of how to get there. As I approached the general vicinity of the doctor’s office I realized I wasn’t as familiar with the area as I thought and the landmarks I was counting on just weren’t showing up!

After navigating a few semi-familiar twists and turns I did manage to get him there – although we were a bit late. Once there, I quietly vowed that I would always get directions before I embarked on another “leap of faith” trip (G-d help me if my wife reads this!)

So, what does my son’s doctor’s appointment have to do with the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy? Well, as I “hoped” my way to the appointment I also realized the quiet anxiety I encountered was the same feeling I had setting up and managing our school’s social media pages. I kind of knew where I was going; I figured I would see familiar places and instinctively know where to turn and when. That is no way to drive to an appointment and definitely no way to oversee a social media campaign.

Through our coaching calls and exercises in between, I’ve learned to map out a specific direction of where we want to go and how we plan to get there. I feel so much better now than I did embarking on this journey. The ambiguity I subtly felt has faded. It has been replaced with clarity and with that – a sense of relief.

Now that I am clear on our direction and how to achieve our set goals, I feel as though I finally have the flashlight I needed to help us find our way through the dark! OK, enough with the metaphors. The bottom line is that I really feel as though a weight that I was barely aware of has been lifted. OK, now enough of the metaphors.

Our social media experiment, along with that of our social media fundraising project, is well underway and our goals are clear. I am able to articulate these goals and the objectives along the way to our Board Members and to our staff. We have seen our membership grow, our “likes” increase substantially and, most importantly, we are effectively fundraising in a new and unique manner that I believe will become more and more familiar and commonplace as time passes.

Looking back over the whole process it reminds me of the simplicity of writing down a “to-do” list and then crossing off each item as I accomplish them. Oops, one last metaphor slipped in.

Harry Katcher is the new Director of Communications and Marketing at San Diego Jewish Academy. He replaces the outgoing Director of Marketing and Communications (note the subtle difference?). Harry has a BA in Journalism, a M.Ed. in Education, and a GPS for directions.


The Jewish Day School Social Media Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools advance their strategic use of social media in areas such as communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The 2012-13 nationwide cohort of 20 schools was generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation.  Each of the schools will be sharing insights from their experience through blog posts here this spring with the tag #jdsacademy

The 2013-14 cohort is currently in formation. If your school or community is interested in more information, please contact Lisa Colton.



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