As a principal, it would seem that appearing on the cover of USA Today would only be a dream. However, for New Milford High School Principal Eric Sheninger, it is another opportunity checked off the list. Despite Sheninger’s busy schedule, he offered an opportunity to learn more about his successes as a principal engaging students in social media. Though our email conversation was brief, Sheninger broadened my view on the school’s responsibilities of social media education and supporting its usage in the classroom.
“It is the job of the schools to educate students on how to use social media to enhance learning, communication, and to conduct better research. We decided to empower our students by treating them with respect and as young adults. Throughout the curriculum we teach concepts associated with digital citizenship and creating positive digital footprints.”
How does New Milford HS monitor the abuse of social media in the classroom?
“We have learned that if students want to abuse social media they will more likely do it when they are not allowed to. There is absolutely nothing we can do to stop a student from tweeting or using Facebook inappropriately on their phone in the bathroom.”
I theorized most administrators would be weary of presenting their student body with such responsibility and adulthood. Sheninger possessed no fear, however, stating his students embraced their new privileges with grace.
“They have risen to the occasion, just like we knew they would. Social media is now viewed as both a social and learning tool as well as a fantastic medium for real-time communication. My students would be the first to tell you that they see our culture in regards to the use of social media as a privilege. This is why I don’t worry.”