OUTstanding Story of Success

Founded in 1924 on the sands of Siesta Key, The Out-of-Door Academy (www.oda.edu) is one of the oldest independent day schools in Florida.

I recently had a conversation with Dennis Chapman, director of advancement, about their enrollment success. Their success can be attributed to the following:

  • Visionary Leadership—David Mahler, head of school, has provided visionary leadership for the school and has focused on improving the quality of the programs, faculty and facilities.
  • Facility Improvements—The leadership invested back into the facilities on the lower school and upper school campuses. Because of where the upper school is located, it was positioned for growth.
  • Streamlined Lower School—Reduced lower school class sections from three to two and increased focus on the middle and upper school.
  • Proactive Admissions Effort—Increased word-of-mouth and built up pressure in the admissions cycle to increase inquiries and applications. Laura Murphy, director of admissions, has done an outstanding job leading this effort and she is one of the best directors I know.
  • Enrollment/Marketing Team—The admissions and marketing team are hard-working professionals passionate about promoting their school both internally and externally.
  • Comprehensive and Consistent Marketing Campaign—Instead of cutting back, they pushed forward with increased spending in marketing. This comprehensive marketing campaign, developed by Cherry+Company, capitalized on the uniqueness of their name and has promoted a consistent brand message in the community (OUTthink, OUTperform, OUTshine).

Dennis said that the most important thing now for them is that, around the administrative table, they are thinking about marketing 24/7. While the school was positioned well for the recession and had a lot of momentum, the leadership has been very proactive and aggressive during this difficult time.

The leadership has been able to focus and communicate effectively.

The result: A record number of new students this year. While everyone else was cutting back, they were being proactive and investing in school improvements and marketing. OUTstanding!