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A place of establishment with a clear, organized and effective signage  has many long-lasting benefits that far outweigh the initial investment including: an opportunity to project a positive image, provide instant communication and direction to guests, and increased efficiency for  all guests and employees, including  First Team Responders in emergency situations.


Benefits of Effective Signage




"Collection of Research, Insights, Things to Consider"


       #1: “That initial impression can determine whether a parent feels comfortable enough to return or decides to avoid the school whenever possible.Those newcomers can be a terrific source of volunteers, but first impressions are key.  Make your foyer as warm and welcoming as possible by painting a mural, hanging a sign, or brightening the area with plants. By focusing on creating a welcoming atmosphere, you can make sure your school is one where new families feel comfortable and want to participate.

Don’t assume that your school is welcoming just because you are a close-knit community.”


       #2: Graphic signage produced the greatest rate of travel in all settings, but textual signage was the most effective in reducing wayfinding errors, such as wrong turns and backtracking.  Overall, the addition of signage resulted in a:


                                •  13% increase in rate of travel

                                •  50% decrease in wrong turns

                                •  62% decrease in backtracking across the five settings


       #3: “Ineffective wayfinding systems are very problematic for buildings because of the costs they can incur and the time that users devote to searching for a desired location. In an environment where bad wayfinding systems occur, people rely on the staff of the building to direct them to their destination. Further, users may also become so frustrated with the environment that they will not return. If a building has good wayfinding features, the user should have a positive experience when reaching their destination.”


        #4: According to a signage study, the Signage Foundation concluded:


                                •  40% of the participants said that signs caused them to draw


                                •  60% missed a destination because the signage was too small.

                                •  75% said the signs made an impact on their first impression.

                                •  80% admitted to be extremely annoyed if they can't read a sign.


        #5: "The biggest payoff for a welcoming school is the win-win partnerships that result," Karen Willoughby, coordinator of family services and involvement at the Office of Early Childhood and Family Services in Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools. "It’s been shown time and time again that with today’s tough educational challenges, we need to develop parent-school relationships at the start of the school year. Creating a welcoming environment is one way to do that….If parents don’t feel that the school is approachable; it just makes communication issues worse…. If we can create a comfortable bond with parents from day one, it makes it much easier to handle problems that come up later in the year…”


“PTOs are in a unique and powerful position for promoting a welcoming atmosphere at school. It’s hard to feel welcome when you don’t know where you are or how to find out.  View the school through the eyes of a special needs child, another as a parent new to the school, and a third as a parent new to the country, for example.”


Research shows that when parents are involved in their children's education, the children are more likely to:


                                 •  earn better grades.

                                 •  score higher on tests.

                                 •  pass their classes.

                                 •  attend school regularly.

                                 •  have better social skills.

                                 •  show improved behavior.

                                 •  be more positive in their attitude toward school.

                                 •  complete homework assignments.

                                 •  graduate and continue their education.”


          #6: “According to Grunder, the most common theme observed in all of the Solid Foundation schools visited is the warm and friendly atmosphere where families feel welcome and better equipped as partners in their children's education.”


          #7: “School environment and school connectedness can be the determining factors in a young person’s educational experience.  Environment matters. As human beings, we naturally react to the physical impact of our surroundings We respond to pleasing décor.  Study after study indicates that a positive school environment is essential for optimal teaching and learning.”


          #8: “Make that first experience a positive one, so people will want to come back.”


          #9: “One other area where schools often miss the boat for signage is the opportunity to truly welcome and embrace visitors.”


          #10: “An effective and cohesive signage system heightens the excitement of a vibrant and creative institution”….”First time visitors, unfamiliar with the campus layout, rely heavily on signage to find their way around the institution and depend on the institution to make signs understanding and visually appealing”  and “lowers frustration and stress increasing building friendliness and productivity”


           #11 “Creating a welcoming atmosphere can be especially important in schools where the student population is ever-changing.”


          #12 “Improved navigation will make a greater visitor experience.”


          #13  “Posting welcoming signs will help families become better aquainted and to make families feel welcome inside the school.”


          #14 “Whether your campus is small and intimate or large and sprawling, visitors require a signage system to find their way around.  A campus wayfinding system must strike a precarious balance being   effective, accessible, correct, current, complimentary and appealing… important to create a more welcoming and consistent atmosphere on campus.”




#1 PTO Today Website; Make New Families Feel Welcome by Patti Ghezzi

#2 Sage Publications, Environment and Behavior: Effects of Signage and Floor Plan Configuration on Wayfinding Accuracy, By Michael J. O'Neill  Interior Environments Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

#3 What is Wayfinding? University of Michigan

#4 2011 Signage Foundation Inc. Report

#5 PTO Today Website: Is Your School Parent-Friendly? by Joy Underhill

#6 Website: Parent Involvement Best

#7 Best Practices for Building Blocks for Enhanced School Environment by Robert Blum, MD, PHD, Senior Professor and Chair of the Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, St. John Hopkins Bloomberg School University School of Public Health

#8 PTO Today Website: 26 Ways To Build Involvement by Craig Bystrynski

#9 School Planning and Management Website;  Article title: “Sign of the Times” by Marty Gregg

#10 American School and University Website;  Article Title:  “Sign of the Times”  by Ernest Dwight

#11 Education World  Website; Article Title:  Does Your School's Atmosphere Shout "Welcome?  Multiple principal authors listed

#12 Four Winds Interactive Website; Article Title:  Wayfinding Signage for a New Market Place”

#13 Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District website/ ; Article Title “Parent Involvement Strategies to Reach and Involve Multicultural Families”

#14 School Planning and Management  website;  Article  “The Right of Wayfinding”  by Danielle Przyborowski






Frequently asked questions  FAQ


If you’re interested in getting signs for your school but your fundraising budget doesn’t allow for it, consider enlisting in the help of area business sponsors, in exchange for some recognition that may promote their business.   Your P.T.O. could also submit a letter in the local newspaper announcing your need for sponsors whether it be from a business, family, or in memory of someone special, and how their generosity will benefit children, parents, school staff and the community for decades.  Below is one way you could recognize sponsors, in addition to putting their name in the monthly school newsletter.



























Just as important as it is finding sponsors for your school signage needs, is the follow up of appreciation and thank you. When writing a follow up letter, you could show them a picture of you hallways BEFORE and AFTER so they can see the difference their generosity made and they can feel good about being a part of that. Another possibility is inviting sponsor to visit a school for a "Thank You" tour ending with doughnuts and coffee. Building a relationship with the commuinty is a great way to get them involved and invested in your schools.


To see a sample Business Sponsor Request letter template to help you get started....



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