The new school year has brought plenty of firsts for Brunswick students, from the kindergartners just starting their education journey to high school seniors facing the beginning of the end.

Phillip Potenziano, superintendent of the Brunswick School Department. Contributed

His own schooling may be done, but Superintendent Phil Potenziano joined in with a first of his own last week — the launch of “Brunswick Buzz,” a new podcast that he hopes will reshape the channels of communication between the district and the community.

“One of the things that I’ve noticed since I’ve been in Brunswick and in the field of education is it’s really important to have an opportunity to tell a story in different formats,” he said. “In 2022, it’s another way to connect with our community members.”

Potenziano will release a 15- to 30-minute episode on the third Thursday of each month. The podcast will cover district news and include interviews with guests discussing broader education topics, including Brunswick’s partnership with StopHazing.

School Board Chairperson Beth Bisson said the project excited her.

“It’s a really neat way to get additional information out,” she said. “I really have to hand it to Superintendent Potenziano. He’s putting a tremendous amount of energy into creating new pathways for information.”


Local schools and districts engage with families and community members through an assortment of channels. Besides Potenziano’s podcast, Brunswick shares information through its website, weekly community newsletters, and social media accounts, including a Twitter Page for Brunswick High School news.

Regional School Unit 1, which includes Morse High School, works with the city of Bath’s marketing & communication’s specialist to produce news stories, press releases and newsletters, according to Superintendent Patrick Manuel. The district also provides parents with up-to-date district news via a mobile app.

The changing media and technology landscape have forced educators to try novel public outreach methods, according to Potenziano.

“I think it’s fair to say that people are inundated with information, and they only have so much bandwidth to receive that information,” he said. “The traditional model of just a newsletter or school board meetings is just not effective. We have to think about creative ways to be able to give that information to parents and community members.”

COVID-19, which limited in-person parent-teacher interaction and shifted school board meetings to Zoom, accelerated shifts in schools’ communication strategies, according to Eric Waddell, president of the Maine State Superintendents Association. Waddell, who also leads the Kittery School district, produced a series of YouTube videos with remote learning tips and updates as part of a multi-pronged approach to engage with the community during the lockdown period.

“The pandemic, particularly the period of time when everything was shut down (spring 2020), really caused educators to think creatively about communication with families,” he wrote in an email to the Times Record. “When it comes to communication with staff and families, it’s ‘all of the above.’ No one single strategy will work for everyone.”


The University of Maine’s School of Educational Leadership, Higher Education and Human Development requires students seeking a Doctorate in Education to experiment with communication tools like podcasts, videos and social media, according to Director Ian Mette. He praised school leaders like Potenziano and Waddell for working to transform their districts into “open systems,” meaning they invite engagement and interaction from the community.

“I think it’s really smart for school districts to think along this line,” he said. “Parents, community members, students, all want to have a voice in in their education. I think when you are willing to consider yourself an open system as a school district, you’re able to get input and eventually buy-in from the community.”

Potenziano, who has invited community members to suggest episode topics that interest them, hopes Brunswick Buzz will help produce that buy-in. But he also said that the district must develop even more strategies in order to reach every corner of the community, including non-English speakers and families with less access to fast internet.

“That’s really the next phase of my communications plan,” he said. “How do I ensure that we’re getting those parents that are not as easily reachable for whatever reason? We’re really working hard to enhance two-way communication.”

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