It seems like small potatoes, but I'm talking about things like the paint job (and choice of colors), the banners, the welcome message, and even any security or warning messages. There's a huge difference between "All visitors MUST report to the office" and "Welcome to our school. Visitors, please report to our office for sign-in." (Here's a column on ''the Fortress School'' I wrote several years back.)

Sometimes half the battle in becoming a more open, welcoming school is repeatedly saying and showing that you are an open, welcoming, warm school. While the teachers are getting their classes prepped this next month, perhaps a few of your parent volunteers -- or even a talented young artist -- can give the entrance spaces at your school some extra attention. I've seen amazing, colorful murals that are very, very cool. I've also seen simple, clean entrances with subtle signage and messaging that is also effective.

Almost anything is better than walking into a school that feels like a cold institution or a even a jail. Neither parents nor kids look forward to getting involved with those schools.

We have great content on making your school more welcoming, whether it's the grounds or even how you interact with parents. Check out: