Parent Volunteer Unites Millcreek Through Facebook Page

With over 6,500 followers reaching across the U.S. and even into other countries, We Are Millcreek (WAM) social media page has become a fundamental aspect of the Millcreek Township School District (MTSD) community. The Facebook page not only highlights the many students, activities, events and staff in the district, but has also become an alumni gathering place, fundraising platform and community-builder for MTSD.

“For many, the daily news is a social media platform, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. After making that morning coffee, most people, and that includes students, open up their phones and start scrolling,” says Genene Mattern, who runs the WAM Facebook page as a volunteer. “WAM has become a one-stop shop for parents with multiple children in various schools in Millcreek. It’s a resource tool for many to keep up with everything going on in our big district.”

Mattern is the Volunteer Coordinator at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania and a mother of two Millcreek kids: a daughter, Lauren, who graduated from McDowell in 2018 and is currently a Sailor and Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Navy and a freshman, Christian, who is involved in cross country and track at McDowell. Mattern says she spends about 25 to 30 hours each week on WAM, all of which is done as a volunteer.

“Sometimes I have to be careful not to spam people with too many posts, but I get so much good stuff that it’s hard not to,” Mattern says.

Started by former school board member Judy Wheaton in 2013, WAM serves as an initiative to highlight the positive aspects of MTSD.

“She asked me if I’d like to be a contributor and after about a year I was the full time content creator, as Judy moved on to her next endeavor,” Mattern says.

Darcie Moseley, acting MTSD Co-Superintendent says she recognizes the importance of social media in a time when everyone has access to digital information at their fingertips. She says “utilizing all digital mediums is not only necessary, but also an effective tool to disseminate information quickly and accurately,” and she is thankful for the communication provided by WAM. 

This past year, the WAM page reached over 200,000 likes. 

“WAM shows everyone all the great things our students, staff and district get done on a daily basis,” Mattern says. “Some clubs, events and grade levels get very little attention but deserve a spotlight, and WAM gives them that.” 

Mattern says the hardest part of running WAM is finding time and, with no master schedule of activities, knowing what is scheduled at every level at every building. Despite working as a volunteer with a full-time job, Mattern makes WAM one of her top priorities.

“WAM is such a part of me,” Mattern says. “I sometimes say I will take a break or a week off, but then the students do something outstanding, and I have to tell the world about it. There is no day off. WAM is year round and sometimes 24/7.”

To keep up with everything going on in the district, Mattern keeps a special content calendar and utilizes local news outlets, PTA sites and business pages to keep track of Trojan events. She says roughly 60% of her time is spent on McDowell and 40% on the middle and elementary schools. However, Mattern also appreciates the help of the MTSD community to run WAM, with students, faculty, alumni and staff attending events and sending in photos when she can’t make it to an event.

I guarantee no one would know all that is offered in our district if it weren’t for WAM,” says Mattern’s son Christian. “The newspaper and local news only cover certain activities and sports; WAM covers it all. I think that’s important because everyone wants to know they matter.”

One unanticipated role of WAM has been communication and community building during the coronavirus outbreak.

“WAM Facebook page has been instrumental in allowing the District to reach more members of our community and elicit connectedness,” Moseley says. “It is important for students, families, faculty and the community to have not only our district web page accessible for information, but also to be able to update through the WAM Facebook page.”

Not only does the page provide updates and information regarding lunch and chromebook pick-ups, school year and class updates, and social distancing guidelines, but it also has offered some fun community-building activities. With daily Trojan bedtime stories, a month dedicated to senior features, a virtual spirit week, alumni spotlights and positive messages, WAM has helped to keep the MTSD community connected.

“I hope I have been helpful in keeping the information easy to find and updated, as it was coming in fast and changed rapidly early on,” Mattern says. “Currently, I hope I’ve helped keep us all connected so that we still feel we are part of the Trojan family.” 

Christian believes his mom has had a positive impact. “I guarantee not as many children’s books would have been read this week,” he says.

Mattern says the best part of running WAM is watching the students grow. 

“This is my seventh year. The graduating class of 2020 were just starting middle school when I started. I feel like I’ve had a front row seat watching them grow,” she says. “That’s the greatest part: getting to tell our students stories, be their cheerleader. Everyone needs a cheerleader.”