The Challenge
The University of South Carolina’s Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP) is a consortium of ten education organizations that encourage, facilitate, and participate in partnerships that support and sustain quality K-12 education. CEP partners have done great work, but their individual and collective impact was a well-kept secret in the state.

The Response
CEP Director Dr. Cindy Van Buren wanted to spread the word about partners’ programs and their collaboration with the university. Rather than simply communicating on behalf of those making a difference, CEP wanted its partners to tell their own stories of their great work and lessons learned to influence others across the state.

“Education is full of stories that show impact on students, teachers, schools, districts, and communities. And most of those stories go untold…. The storytelling retreat…gave educators across multiple partnerships an opportunity to share that impact.”

Cindy Van Buren, Assistant Dean, College of Education,
University of South Carolina

Mira Education facilitated a two-day virtual storytelling retreat for CEP partner staff and individuals involved in partner programs, including administrators, teachers, and parents. Participants learned the essentials of effective storytelling: targeting an audience, focusing on messaging, using data to inform a narrative, and crafting an ask to activate audiences.

Virtual office hours and peer review processes supported additional coaching and feedback. A month later, a showcase offered an opportunity to celebrate and rehearse presentations prior to public dissemination.

The Impact
As a result of this work:

  • 22 stories highlighting programmatic impact data from CEP district partnerships are now published or in production,
  • 100% of participants agreed/strongly agreed the process made them more effective in sharing impact stories, and
  • 100% of participants would recommend the storytelling support process to colleagues.

Many of the stories developed during the storytelling retreat were published in the January 2022 National Network for Education Renewal (NNER) journal. Other stories can be accessed on the CEP website.