TSPRA Communication Matters Summer 2022

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Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Funding for schools is decreasing drastically nationwide. Most districts are facing possible cuts in personnel, programs and more. There is a way for your district to provide an added benefit to the families in your district while adding much needed revenue for new or existing programs.

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Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

500 N. Central Expy, Ste. 231 Plano , TX 75074

2022-2023 OFFICERS

CENTRAL AREA Marco Alvarado Lake Travis ISD

PRESIDENT Rebecca Villarreal, APR New Braunfels ISD


PRESIDENT ELECT Megan Overman, APR, CPC Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD

FAR WEST AREA Daniel Escobar Socorro ISD




AT-LARGE POSITION 1 Jennifer Bailey, CPC Belton ISD


AT-LARGE POSITION 2 Stephanie De Los Santos HCDE

GULF COAST AREA Helen Escobar Roma ISD HOUSTON/BEAUMONT AREA Kristyn Cathey Goose Creek CISD EAST TEXAS AREA Jamie Fails Willis ISD NORTH CENTRAL AREA Vacant WEST CENTRAL AREA Jennifer Marshall-Higgins, CPC ESC Region 12

AT-LARGE POSITION 3 Sherese Nix-Lightfoot Garland ISD PARLIAMENTARIAN Christina Courson Lockhart ISD Texas School Public Relations Association 406 East 11th Street, Suites 101-105 Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-474-9107 Fax: 512-477-0906 For questions, submissions and advertising, contact TSPRA: info@tspra.org Copyright 2022. Texas School Public Relations Association. All rights reserved. Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Summer 2022 | Volume III, No. 1

& s r ea ng! y 60 unti co Texas School Public Relations Association TSPRA is a professional organization whose members are dedicated to improving public education in Texas by: PROMOTING effective public relations practices PROVIDING professional development for its members IMPROVING communication between Texans and their public schools


MANAGING EDITOR GRAPHIC DESIGN Tracie Seed tspramagazine@gmail.com MAGAZINE CHAIR Erin Gregg, APR Lubbock ISD EDITORS Kristyn Cathey Goose Creek CISD Christina Courson Lockhart ISD Stephanie De Los Santos HCDE Jennifer Marshall-Higgins, CPC ESC Region 12 Rebecca Villarreal, APR New Braunfels ISD TSPRA STAFF INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Linsae Snider lsnider@tspra.org PROGRAMS MANAGER Janet Crock janet@tspra.org




TSPRA.org Summer 2022 |info@tspra.org TSPRA.org

Stephanie De Los Santos, Daniel Escobar, Clive Hawkins, Sr., Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, Evan Henson, Lila Stanley, Dawn Parnell, Francisco Rojas, Willie Thomas, Lindsey Yancey

MAKING AN EVERYDAY IMPACT Through specialized schools; Head Start early childhood education; afterschool programs; school-based therapy services; and a scholastic art and writing awards program, HCDE makes a BIG impact on Harris County communities.

See the Impact at HCDE-TEXAS.ORG/IMPACTSummer 2022 | TSPRA.org


In this issue you will find many valuable ways to improve your communications efforts and enhance your ability to connect and create relationships. You will also get to learn more about our Executive Committee that works to serve this membership in a volunteer capacity. The Executive Committee met last month for a day and a half to learn about TSPRA and its operational aspects. In addition, we explored what defines this organization and how it is unique. We also identified the six words that TSPRA aspires to be during our rebranding in 2018: Trusted, Multifaceted, Professional, Focused, Dynamic and Welcoming. During the meeting, we evaluated them and illustrated each word’s meaning to see if those still hold true today. Every few years, we plan to look at these six words to ensure they are relevant and aligned with organizational objectives. Evaluation and self-reflection are essential to sustain the success of this organization. When this issue arrives in your inbox, our organization will have entered a new chapter following the retirement of TSPRA’s long-time Executive Director, Linsae Snider. Even though we knew this day would come, it still doesn’t seem real. You are also aware that we are still in the process of finding our new full-time Executive Director. In the interim, Linsae will remain part-time on a contract basis. As timely as it is, we don’t want to rush the process; instead, we are committed to finding the right person to lead this organization. As the summer days pass, I hope you are taking time to recharge and spend time with family or friends. Summer is a crucial time and impacts the work we do year-round. I would encourage you to take advantage of this time to catch up, get ahead and throw in some “me” time when you can. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer and are looking forward to another year as a member of TSPRA! Sincerely, Rebecca M. Villarreal, APR President


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org





In a Minute Industry facts, figures & fun



Member Moment Getting to know fellow TSPRAns

2021 Star Awards A recap of this year’s winners



Point of View Dawn Parnell, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD

Getting to Know You Executive Committee members share personal fun facts


Preparing for a Media Interview Tips from Spoken Word Counselor Clive Hawkins, Sr.


Newsworthy Pitches How to enlist local media to tell your stories


Creative Communication The art of multicontent creation in a multi-role environment


Closing the Gap Connecting with your Spanish-speaking community


What’s Your Generation Characteristics and work styles of five generations


Developing a Shared Vision of Success with Meaningful Community Connections The first 100 days of a new superintendent


Good Leaders Build Leaders Growing your superintendent’s leadership council


Fold in the Cheese A delicious recipe for clear community communication


Annual Cover Photo Contest A celebration of this year’s entries


TSPRA Talk What’s happening in TSPRA





Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

CHRIS NORTHINGTON Account Executive chris.northington@blackboard.com 251-752-7111

MICHELLE PENA-THOMPSON Account Executive mthompson@blackboard.com 512-635-1733 Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


In a Minute

For many school communicators, finding time to create content for social media posts can be daunting. While people love photos, videos bring your posts to life! You can record videos in batches to stockpile for posts throughout the school year. Consider carving out just 30 minutes once or twice each week to grab some amazing footage. With the batch methwod, you can cover a lot of ground in one trip. Here are a few themes to help you get the ball rolling.

by Tracie Seed

The first person convicted of speeding was going eight mph in 1896.

The hottest spot on the planet is Libya, reaching a recorded 136 degrees Fahrenheit in 1922.

The “M’s” in M&Ms stand for “Mars” and “Murrie” after the creators Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie.

The dot over the lowercase “i” or “j” is known as a “tittle.”

“E” is the most common letter and appears in 11% of all English words.

Tell me a joke.

What is your favorite book and why? This or that? Why? (i.e. cat or dog, chocolate or vanilla, Spiderman or Batman, etc.) Show me one of your talents. A classroom dance party. What did you learn today?

Tidbits & Trivia

Source: bestlifeonline.com

Upcoming National Celebration Days Aug 16 Nat’l Tell a Joke Day

Sept 5-9 Nat’l Substitute Appreciation Week

Sept 15-Oct 15 Nat’l Hispanic Heritage Mth.

Aug 20 World Honeybee Day

Sept 6 Nat’l Read a Book Day

Sept 16 Nat’l Teacher Assistant Day

Aug 28 Nat’l Thoughtful Day

Sept 12 Nat’l High Five Day

Sept 20 Nat’l IT Professional Day


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Crisis Talking Points In school PR, crisis happens. This section takes a look at sample talking points for various crisis scenarios.


• • •

The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. [Upon finding out about the threat], our staff immediately acted, and law enforcement is currently investigating. We take all threats seriously. We understand that this can be unsettling for students and parents alike; please understand that we are limited in terms of what we can share due to privacy and safety concerns. I ask that you please refrain from conjecturing or spreading rumors as this situation unfolds. We will continue to be vigilant about campus security and invite you to assist us. Parents, please speak with your children about their role in school safety. Let your child know that if he or she notices any suspicious or threatening behavior, he/she should report it to an authority figure. It will immediately be investigated, and, if appropriate, reported to law enforcement. Together, we can keep our students safe so they can focus on learning. Go to TSPRA Document Vault, accessible through your member portal, for more talking points & inspiration.



r a m m a Gr Ti me

Colons can be confusing, but their function is straightforward. Think of it as a flashing arrow that points to the information following it. When a colon appears in a sentence, it usually gives the silent impression of “as follows,” “which is/are” or “thus.” Examples Use colons before a list. There are three types of muscle in the body: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal. Use colons to signal further clarification. We have two options here: stay and fight or run like the wind. Use colons to introduce a quotation: He ended with the immortal words of Neil Young: “Rock and Roll can never die.” Source: Grammarly

Figuring out what time-management tactics work for you may take a bit of trial and error. Get started with one or more of these tried-and-true methods: LOOK ahead in your month to anticipate what is upcoming and create a task list: event planning, important meetings, newsletters, professional development, etc. USE five to 10 minutes on Friday afternoon to double-check your calendar and create a task list. BLOCK OUT a set time to focus on and complete items that are due weekly: scheduling Facebook posts, taking photos and videos around campus, organizing talking points for staff meetings, etc. PRIORITIZE your to-do lists each morning. Consider doing the one thing you dread the most first to get it off your plate and out of your headspace. KNOW that you don’t need to do it all. You can’t be on every campus in every classroom. In various instances, you can ask teachers, parents, APs, other staff or even students to capture an event, especially if they will already be there. Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Getting to know your fellow TSPRAns

Deanna D. Jackson

Director of Communications & Community Engagement Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD (SCUC ISD)

What did you do before this job? Most recently, I was principal at Watts Elementary, a PK-4 school in SCUC ISD. Before my 16 years as a public-school educator, I worked in public relations for State Farm in the Dallas metroplex (North Texas Regional Office). Why did you join TSPRA? It was the first thing I knew to do as soon as I was selected for the position. I’d previously been in PR in the private sector (long before my education career), and it was helpful. Nothing like TSPRA though. My colleagues in the private sector of public relations were not nearly as hospitable nor as willing to assist and share resources as my TSPRA colleagues. What is something TSPRA colleagues need to know about you? While public speaking has never been a fear of mine, I greatly enjoy being in the background and playing a supportive role. The older I get, the more I enjoy using my knowledge, expertise and lessons learned from life experiences to support others in being their absolute best. What is something TSPRA colleagues would not expect to know about you? While I love my new position, I do miss campus life and being a principal. It was an incredibly stressful, demanding job, but there is nothing like the joy and energy of an elementary school! What is something on your bucket list? Hmmm ... I don’t really have a bucket list. I’m just committed to living life to the fullest, exhausting all my God-given talent, skills and abilities to be in service to others and am open and accepting of all opportunities that come my way.

Justin Marino

Executive Director of Communications Montgomery ISD

What did you do before this job? Before joining Montgomery ISD, I worked in Houston ISD for nearly four years where I served as Director of Government Relations as well as Director of Communications and Marketing. Prior to that, I spent nearly 10 years working in public affairs, communications and government relations roles at the Arizona legislature. Why did you join TSPRA? I joined TSPRA to learn from colleagues across the state. Our roles as school communicators can be extremely challenging as we confront new issues on almost a daily basis. Being a part of an organization where I can collaborate with other experienced PR professionals is important to me. What is something TSPRA colleagues need to know about you? My family always comes first! I have two little girls (5 and 2) and I’m a proud husband to an educator in Klein ISD. I’m very passionate about this work and am constantly looking for strategies to improve how our school district communicates and engages with stakeholders. I enjoy having conversations with colleagues across the state to learn what’s working for them and to share ideas for confronting challenging issues. What is something TSPRA colleagues would not expect to know about you? I grew up in California in a farming family. My family still grows cherries, grapes, walnuts and almonds in Lodi, CA. I’m also a diehard ASU Sun Devil! What is something on your bucket list? There are several things on my “bucket list.” I love to travel and, as a huge baseball fan, I would love to visit every major league ballpark. But one item on my bucket list is to travel to Italy and try to find where my great grandfather lived before coming to the United States. 12

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

The Leader in

VISUAL COMMUNICATION for schools & school districts

YOU DESERVE MORE THAN DIGITAL SIGNAGE As the Leader in Visual Communication in Schools and School Districts, we help you build an educated future generation through visual communication, engagement & access to opportunity. Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org





Transforming the Butterflies into Speaking Confidently

by Dawn Parnell Chief Communications Officer Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD


remember the assignment like it was yesterday. It was my sixth-grade social studies class; our task was to give a two-minute speech about our favorite vacation. As a child, I was not shy, but the thought of all my friends staring at me for two minutes while I talked about my family's trip to the beach seemed overwhelming. The dread of this assignment mounted every day until the time finally arrived and my name was called to present. During the speech, nothing went terribly wrong. I was relieved when it was over, and I thought all went well … until I heard the feedback from my teacher. "Try not to be so nervous. You didn’t make eye contact with the class. You need to slow down." Fast forward to high school and I found that my confidence had improved. I enjoyed taking speech classes and learning about communication and public speaking. So much so that I decided to become a speech teacher and help students like me overcome the butterflies and speak confidently. A shared emotion We've all heard stories about famous people who fear public speaking. Notable names include Renée Zellweger, Nicole Kidman, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Sigmund Freud and Thomas Jefferson. It's hard to believe that a famous entertainer or politician would experience stage fright. However, fear of public speaking is a real emotion for many of us. Glossophobia, or a fear of public speaking, has been determined to be a common phobia, with some research indicating that 75% of the population is affected by it, according to psycom.net. Some individuals may feel a slight nervousness at the very thought of public speaking, while others experience full-on panic and fear. As a speech teacher, I witnessed students, ages 18 to 60-years-old becoming physically sick before giving a presentation. As professional communicators, there is nothing more important than to become really good at expressing ourselves when speaking to other people. But just like many famous entertainers, professional communicators may still encounter the "butterflies" when making a presentation. Or we may find ourselves in a position where we must coach our leadership team through public speaking fears. So, how do we overcome the butterflies and conquer our public speaking fears? Well, as the old saying goes, "practice makes perfect," or in other words, practicing these simple steps can help us and others speak with confidence.


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Know your audience It is important to know who will be in the audience. Conducting a pre-audience analysis is essential. Find out general information about attendees, such as the age, gender, educational and economic backgrounds, association or affiliations of the groups. Avoid the mistake of assuming that a group has a certain viewpoint due to group affiliation. Each audience has a unique personality. If you are speaking at a specific conference, identify the current topics or issues that impact the conference attendees and adapt your message accordingly. Are there common values, beliefs or attitudes shared by the group? Learn as many details as you can to help ensure your message will connect. Ask questions to the event organizer about the logistics of the room setup. Is it classroom-style seating or round tables? How many are expected to attend? Is there a handheld microphone or a podium? Knowing these details can help calm nerves as you prep yourself or someone else to speak. The more information you have ahead of the speech will limit any last-minute surprises and help build confidence. Remember, understanding and knowing your audience will help you craft a message that will connect and be memorable. Know your content Author Michael Mescon once said, "The best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you're talking about." For most of us, "winging it" does not result in a good presentation. Preparation is vital as you research and begin organizing your thoughts. Prepare your speech by planning the body first then the introduction, followed by the conclusion. The body of the speech is where you will spend most of your time speaking, so planning this part first will help determine what content is needed in the introduction and conclusion. Plan for three to four points in your speech. As a speaker, your goal is for the audience to remember the presentation; audiences recall information presented in "threes." Determine what three points you’d like for your audience to walk away with and craft your main ideas. After determining the main ideas, use sub-points to explain each idea further. This is where the speaker should cite sources, provide details and quote references. When planning the introduction, use an attention-gaining device like a quote, humorous statement or personal story. Remind the audience about what you have in common and connect with them. In the conclusion, restate the main ideas and give a memorable closing statement. As someone once said, "Tell them what you are going to say, tell them, and then tell them again."

Know your delivery and style Speaking extemporaneously is the preferred delivery style in most situations. An extemporaneous speech is a carefully prepared and practiced speech delivered with minimal notes. With an extemporaneous delivery, the speaker will sound more authentic and sincere. While presenting, the speaker can "read the audience" to determine how well the speech is being received. If the audience is on their cell phone during point number two, the speaker might pivot and move on to the third point. Because the speaker is very familiar with the content, the change in the presentation will continue to sound fluid, even if changes are made to the script in real-time. Everyone has an individual speaking style that includes speaking rate, language choice, volume level, voice pitch and more. As a student, I learned quickly that I overused a particular word. My high school speech teacher dinged a coffee mug every time the word "uh" was used. She was dinging the mug a lot when I spoke because of my overuse of "uh." Signals like clanging a coffee mug can be helpful when prepping someone to present. We are usually unaware of how fast we are talking or the filler words we might use instead of simply pausing. Ask someone to signal you if you are talking too fast or mispronouncing a word. Practice in front of someone or record the speech. This will help you, or the colleague you are coaching, understand their style and how to make improvements. Chasing the butterflies away Public speaking is like most skills we acquire in life. The more we do it, the more confident we will become. The most important thing is to focus on the message. Audiences want the speaker to succeed. Find a smiling face in the crowd, make eye contact and some nervousness will dissipate. Remember to practice, practice and practice; usually, the butterflies will ease. Professional speakers confirm that some nervousness is positive because it comes across as energy and excitement. Convert any nervousness into enthusiasm as you speak. Take a deep breath before you begin your presentation. As the famous speech coach Dorothy Sarnoff once said, "Make sure you have stopped speaking before your audience has stopped listening."

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org



Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

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Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


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2021 Star Awards

Awarded at 2022 Star Awards Banquet at Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Round Rock, TX We had a record number of entries with 1,162 submissions including 95 Crystal and 12 in Platinum entered by 170 districts, departments, foundations, ESCs or organizations. Thank you to all those who entered Star Awards and congratulations! to the Platinum and Crystal Award winners.


Sponsored by Intrado SchoolMessenger

Socorro ISD

COVID-19 Communication Campaign (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President, Mark Saldana, SISD Public Relations Coordinator, Acavius Largo, SISD Production Specialist, Daniel Escobar, SISD Chief Communications Officer, Andy Perez, Senior Graphic Designer, Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger, Linsae Snider, TSPRA Executive Director, Cesar Ruiz, SISD Multimedia Specialist


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Sponsored by Intrado SchoolMessenger


Fort Bend ISD

Fort Bend ISD Video Portfolio (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President and Kristoffer Smith, Fort Bend ISD


Northwest ISD

Ring of Champions: A Drive Thru Ceremony (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President, Jess Croshaw, Northwest ISD, Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger


Frenship ISD

Frenship ISD 2020 Bond (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President, Tiffany Taylor, Frenship ISD, Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger

continued on Pg. 20 Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


continued from Pg. 19


Roma ISD

Pandemic Year Teacher of the Year Celebration (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President, Helen Escobar, Roma ISD, Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger


Pearland ISD

2020 Angel Tree Project (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President Kim Hocott,, formerly Pearland ISD, Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger


Judson ISD

Beep ‘N Treat 2020 (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President, Lexie Greathouse, Briana Estrada, Natalie Guzman, Judson ISD, Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Lockhart ISD

#LockhartLeading Marketing Campaign (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President, Christina Courson, Lockhart ISD, Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger


Harlandale ISD The Harlandale Education Foundation Campaign (L-R) Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President Rochelle Lebreck, Mariano Veraza Bravo, Nicole Zapata, Harlandale ISD, Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger


Mesquite ISD Education Foundation’s Walk a Mile In My Shoes A Virtually Amazing Santacolor 5K Project

Mesquite Communications Department *Mesquite ISD was unable to attend the awards banquet

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org




While our new Executive Committee was installed at the 2022 Annual Conference at Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas, here is a fun ice-breaker they did to help you get to know them a little more. They all have some inspirational advice, so take some notes and get ready for the new year.

Marco Alvarado VP – Central

Where did you grow up? Laredo, TX What is your favorite color? Red Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • My guitar • Electric Jellyfish IPA • Torchy’s chips and queso Any advice? Find a mentor, ask lots of questions, learn by doing and then pay it forward.

Jennifer Bailey

At-Large VP Place 1 Where did you grow up? Milano, TX What is your favorite color? Blue Dogs or cats? Cats What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • Unlimited supply of Cherry Vanilla Coke Zero • All seven Harry Potter books • Unlimited chips and queso Any advice? Ask a lot of questions and get as much clarity as you can before you start something new. Set personal boundaries and stick to them. Learn from every mistake. 22

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Christina Courson Parliamentarian

Where did you grow up? Germany What is your favorite color? Midnight blue Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • Fishing pole with hooks • A machete • Flint rock Any advice? Be comfortable with discomfort and not knowing all the answers. In these moments, ask for help in order to grow.

Justin Dearing

VP – North Central Area Where did you grow up? Mansfield, TX What is your favorite color? Green Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • Pillow - big fan of naps! • Fishing stuff - more for relaxation than survival! • BBQ Smoker - I like food. Any advice? Find a mentor. Be a mentor. continued on Pg. 24 Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


continued from Pg. 23

Stephanie A. De Los Santos At-Large Vice President, Position 2 Where did you grow up? Houston, TX What is your favorite color? Purple Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • My Bible • My husband (and if we can't take a person ... my boat.) • My journal with a pen attached. Any advice? Life is too precious to sweat the "small stuff" – specifically your work. God, family and your personal wellbeing matter much more than how much you matter to your bosses.

Daniel Escobar VP - Far West Area

Where did you grow up? El Paso, TX What is your favorite color? Blue Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • My wife • A survival kit • Raft for when ready to return Any advice? Always seek to listen with an open mind and understand others’ point of view, and never make the work about yourself.


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Jamie Fails

VP – East Texas Where did you grow up? San Antonio, TX What’s your favorite color? Blue Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • Coffee • Books • My dogs Any advice? Create your own standards for your work. Benchmark against yourself. Don't worry about what others are doing. Make your mark in the way only you can.

Kristyn Hunt Cathey VP - HASPRA

Where did you grow up? Port Arthur, TX What is your favorite color? Pink Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • My son - he's my BFF and we truly enjoy spending time with each other • Air fryer - who came up with this invention? I’m sure I can find something to cook in it! • iPad - I can't leave home (or a deserted island) without it! Any advice? What is for you, is for you. You don't have to be jealous or envious of someone else's blessings. Yours will soon come.

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continued from Pg. 25

Jenn Marshall-Higgins VP - West Central

Where did you grow up? West, TX What is your favorite color? Green Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • Water • Wine • Cheese Any advice? Communicate your expectations and take ownership to learn and understand the expectations of others.

Sherese Nix

At-Large Vice President, Place 3 Where did you grow up? Arlington, TX What is your favorite color? Pink Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • Unlimited amount of Dr. Pepper • Large speaker to play music • My resourceful friends Any advice? Keep God first. Lead with love. Be honest. Lead and learn in every situation. Remember that feedback is a gift. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Veronica V. Sopher Past President

Where did you grow up? Houston, TX What is your favorite color? Pink Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • iPhone with connection • Pizza • Coke machine Any advice? Jump and find your wings on your way down.

Rebecca Villarreal, APR President

Where did you grow up? Fort Stockton, TX What is your favorite color? Blue Dogs or cats? Dogs What are three items you would take on a deserted island? • Bible • Hymn book • Family photo album Any advice? Work to find the best solution for all parties involved. Surround yourself with caring people who will work hard to serve others. Everything else they can learn.

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org



by Clive Hawkins, Sr. Counsellor Spoken Word Communications


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

by Clive Hawkins, Sr. Counselor Spoken Word Communications


he sight of business leaders, celebrities and politicians being thrust into the media spotlight as they leave their home or office and faced with camera flashlights and a barrage of questions is what often springs to mind in any interaction with reporters. This challenging technique is known as the “ambush interview” and can unnerve even the most media-savvy person. However, a more likely media scenario for most people is to participate in a planned interview and agree on the discussion topic, format, timescale and location in advance. So, if you are going to take part in a media interview, what are the steps you need to consider in preparation? Whether you are new to media interviews or a media representative wanting a refresh, here are some key points to consider for building confidence, developing media-appropriate content and delivering an effective media interview.

INITIAL RESEARCH Before agreeing to participate in a media interview, obtain as much information on the interview topic, timescale, format and approach. Decide if the news audience aligns with your target audience. Once you have decided that it would be advantageous to participate and agree to be interviewed, you need to continue with your background research. Identify the interview style, interests and likely questions to be asked by the reporter conducting the interview. Ensure you are also up-to-date on your organization’s activities and news announcements. Read trade, regional and national news in the run-up to the interview so you are caught up on any breaking news.

PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW You now need to prepare for your delivery. Here are three key steps: 1. Know your audience. Focus on what topics are going to be of interest to your audience. Each audience has different needs, so you need to tailor your media delivery. The more appropriate the content, the greater they will relate to what you are saying. This may sound obvious but can get lost when interviewees have not considered their audience’s requirements or simply re-use company material intended for another audience. Put yourselves in the shoes of your audience and consider what is important to them and what they will be interested in or expect to hear. You should also decide on only three key messages to increase the chances of your audience remembering them. To help with your thinking on this, if a reporter could only write or broadcast three things about your delivery, what would you want them to be? Remember, the interviewer and media outlet are not your primary audience, they are simply a channel for you to gain wider access to your target audience. This approach will help attract and retain the audience’s interest in your interview and enhance your credibility as a company spokesperson. continued on Pg. 30 Art Rascon and Dave Scallan in action during a recent media training workshop. (Photo/Spoken Word)

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


continued from Pg. 29

This approach can equally work well when determining the structure of your media interview. However, be aware of information overload creeping in! You need to respond to questions using short, meaningful and memorable phrases, as you only have a limited amount of time to deliver your key messages. This can be difficult as there is a tendency to include vast amounts of information in an interview. It will be hard enough for an audience to retain more than a few key points so avoid padding out your answers. 3. Know your delivery. An audience will find you engaging and credible if you can deliver your presentation with interest, enthusiasm, and focus on their topic interests. You need to consider:

Art Rascon is the newest member of the Spoken Word Communications team. Art is a distinguished journalist, award-winning reporter, and long-term anchor on Houston’s ABC13. (Photo/Spoken Word)

2. Know your material. Nothing turns off an audience more in a media interview than someone who struggles to talk eloquently about the topics they are expecting to hear, or who cannot answer questions effectively. This is often due to a lack of preparation and rehearsal of their content delivery, or referring to acronyms and technical jargon when explaining something. This is a missed opportunity to influence your audience. To avoid this happening, you need to structure your delivery, decide how best to incorporate your key messages, and then combine with a powerful opening and strong summary to create a compelling narrative. Think about how you read a book. You are introduced to the story at the start, discover more information in subsequent chapters, and reach the end with a memorable finale; hopefully inspiring you to read more of the author’s other works. To achieve this outcome, authors will often decide on their storyline ending from the outset and then work backward to help them develop and structure the storyline to ensure every chapter of the book is connected to take the reader on a journey to the ending. 30

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The words you say. One of the most nerve-racking parts of a media interview is immediately before you start your delivery. We live and work in a multitask environment and so your interview will often be competing with your audience using the smartphone and laptop. You need only a very short time to capture attention from the start, so craft a powerful opening such as a rhetorical question, key fact, or recent news announcement to help hook them in from the beginning. Each key message you use needs to be short, memorable, real and supported with supplementary information – anecdotes, examples, compelling data – to bring them to life, make them easy to remember, and unique to you and your organization. The way you look. Have you dressed appropriately for your interview presentation or could your appearance unwittingly be a distraction? Have you considered your posture so you appear comfortable and confident? Avoid waving your arms or looking away from your interviewer when answering questions, which can be portrayed as uninterested and distant? We have all adapted to working online from home and using spare bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms as makeshift offices. Online is also an effective way of participating in media interviews and gives audiences a rare glimpse into interviewees’ homes and backdrop of books, photographs, and pictures adorning the walls – and sometimes even family members and pets wandering in the room as well! These can all distract an audience’s attention and become the focal point of interest rather than what you are saying in the media interview. Keeping it simple is the most appropriate backdrop to complement your delivery and avoid any distractions.

The way you sound. Your voice is an important part of your personal communication toolkit. It can be used to emphasize important information by consciously increasing your energy level and altering your tone of voice to reiterate key points within your media delivery. This approach is also a useful way of refreshing an audience’s attention and drawing them away from distractions such as smartphones during your interview! These three elements of “what you say, how you look, and how you sound” need to work together if you are to convince your audience that you are a trustworthy, believable, and credible spokesperson. If your words don’t mirror the way you look and sound, the audience will focus on your body language and draw their conclusions. Influencing the discussion. It is important to remember that you are representing your organization and want your audience to understand the key points of your delivery and create a positive impression with them. Positive interaction. There is more than one interview agenda at play here – the reporter’s and yours. You want to ensure your messages are heard by your audience, so be comfortable, confident, and maintain a high energy level. If you are nervous or unprepared, you won’t be at your best. Establish a rapport with the interviewer and have a conversation, rather than just respond with yes or no answers. A tip here is: “listen-thinkrespond.” Listen to the entire question, think about the implication of your answer, and don’t rush to respond. Use your knowledge and experience, backed with interesting facts and figures. You want the interviewer to believe what you believe and be equally enthusiastic! Interruptions. An interviewer can sometimes anticipate your answer and interrupt before you have completed your point. If this happens, ask to finish your answer to ensure your position is understood.

Pitfalls. Avoid using negative statements, personal opinions, speculation, hypothetical situations or simply not answering the question. These responses can risk becoming news headlines. There are many ways to avoid responding to a specific question than by saying “no comment,” which implies you are hiding something. Answering questions. Look for opportunities to weave in your key messages when answering questions. There may be times when you are unable or unwilling to answer a specific question. In this situation, you can use the bridging technique. This involves answering or addressing the question but then moving (or bridging) to one of your key messages to complete your answer. This approach increases the likelihood of an audience understanding and remembering your key messages, which is your goal!

WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE Reporters want to forge strong relationships and gain insights into business developments to identify news scoops. Your ability to control the interview agenda from start to finish and relay information in a newsworthy manner will strengthen your hand with reporters. It will also increase the likelihood of a positive interview and improve your media handling skills. There are many media interview aspects to focus on in tandem. It is similar to learning to drive – initially, it is hard to coordinate your body movements with the car’s equipment, but with practice, it gets easier and eventually becomes second nature. You know you have cracked it when you see your key messages included in the interview coverage, your audience can remember them over the following days and weeks, and you are invited back by the report to participate again.

Keep calm. You will be asked a range of questions - some you will be comfortable with, others will be taxing or asked in a way to provoke a reaction. At all times remain calm, polite and focused on answering each question and reiterating your key messages.

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Newsworthy Pitches How to enlist local media to tell your district’s success stories


by Jenny LaCoste-Caputo Chief of Public Affairs and Communications for Round Rock ISD

here was a time when convincing news outlets to cover any story on education was a challenge. Local media cared about a handful of things, such as accountability ratings, tax rates

and teacher salaries. Sure, we’ve all successfully pitched the occasional cute, classroom story, but enticing reporters to cover substantive education narratives, particularly when they highlight exceptional programs in your district, can sometimes seem impossible. The challenge is even greater as fewer and fewer news organizations have dedicated education reporters who become familiar with local schools and the issues impacting teachers, administrators, students and parents. Now, however, public schools have become the hottest political topic on the horizon. School board meetings have inspired Reddit drinking games and the political polarization of America has resulted in the culture wars being waged in campus libraries and classrooms. It’s frustrating when reporters swoop in to cover controversy but are nowhere to be seen when you have good news to share. The hard truth is that, as much as we’d like them to be, news media outlets are not our PR agencies. What makes a good story for your school district’s social media page may not make the evening news. Like beauty, “newsworthy” is in the eye of the beholder. But that doesn’t mean reporters aren’t interested in success stories. There is a silver lining to the renewed interest in covering schools — it provides the opportunity for school district communications teams to establish relationships, connections and credibility with reporters. These relationships and connections, along with focusing pitches on the notion of “what’s newsworthy” for both organizations, greatly increase your chance of coverage.

Establishing Media Partnerships When it comes to building those relationships, a little goodwill can go a long way. That means being responsive, even when it’s not convenient. When reporters are working on trend stories, they often cast a wide net to several area


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districts looking for a quote. Whenever you can, be that district that responds to those trend stories — whether it’s about school safety, graduation rates or the latest TikTok trend. If the media knows you’re a good source to work with, you can start reaping the rewards of those partnerships. Once you’ve had a few conversations with your local media outlet, you’ll start to pick up on their needs — which puts you in a perfect position to supply information. For example, if a reporter calls because they’re localizing a national story about career readiness, that could be the perfect time to tout one of your district’s successful Career and Technical Education programs. When those opportunities come along, make sure you’re prepared by building up your arsenal of content. If you’ve already produced a video or feature story on a program you’d like the media to highlight, you’ve made their job that much easier, which will make them more likely to bite.

Making connections If you haven’t yet, make connections with the reporters in your community most likely to cover your district. These days, those positions can feel like a revolving door, but even if you have to start over every six months, the time invested won’t be wasted. To foster a good relationship with local media, connect with them before there’s a big story — when you don’t need anything at all. Get to know who’s reporting on your schools: not just who they are, but how they work, how they communicate, and what they expect from you and your team. Reporters will be far more likely to pick up the phone or respond to your email if they recognize your name when they see it come across the screen.

What’s newsworthy? My team provides communications and media training to principals each year and to new principals throughout the year as part of their onboarding process. For our training, we developed a rubric (because what educator doesn’t love a rubric!) to help them understand what makes something newsworthy, both for our district content and for the media. Our rubric includes general rules to help determine newsworthiness: timeliness, relevance, impact, novelty, and human interest. Here’s how we break it down for our principals: Timeliness: Newer information is always better. Pitch events before they happen, not after. Relevance: Why does this matter to our community? How does it affect students and parents? Impact: Will this have a positive impact on community support and knowledge?

Novelty: Novelty stories feature unique programs or individuals within our district. Human Interest: Human interest stories tug on the heartstrings of readers. No reporter wants to get a pitch about a story that’s already happened. They want to be there to capture the moment. When we pitched a story about Stop the Bleed training in our district, we invited the media to attend the training. This allowed them to get their photos and video and also provided the opportunity for multiple interviews in one place. This story checked the box of timeliness because they were able to cover the training and get video and interviews of participants at the moment. It was also a highly relevant story because parents are concerned about schools’ preparedness in emergency situations. Timeliness can also mean being aware of what’s going on across the nation or around the world and capitalizing on it. With the potential of an influx of Ukrainian refugees to the U.S., we used the opportunity to pitch a story about the recent arrival of refugees from Afghanistan in Round Rock ISD, detailing needs, highlighting our response and working in that we’ll be well prepared to welcome Ukrainian refugees should they arrive. A human interest story may not have obvious impact or relevance for a viewer or reader but does entertain and/ or inspire. It can also give the community warm, fuzzy feelings about your district, which is always a win. We recently had a situation where a student was struck by a car while riding his bike to school. Thankfully, his injuries were minor, but his brand-new bike was totaled. Our Round Rock ISD police chief took up a collection from officers to purchase a new bike. Hearing the story, the bike shop owner decided to donate the bike — one of the best and most expensive in the store — along with a helmet and bike gear, and the school district police delivered it to the boy’s home. It wasn’t a story with communitywide relevance, but it was a heartwarming story that people like to hear and share. It also highlighted the caring nature of our police department and, in doing so, enhanced the department’s reputation. Again, this is the type of story pitch that has the best chance of success when those media relationships are solid. Keep your relationships with the media strong by being responsive, prepared and transparent. Reporters can be valuable partners in telling your district’s story and elevating your brand. Time invested in connecting with them and developing engaging story pitches (which can double as content for your own communication platforms) will always be worth it. Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


The art of multi-content creation in a multi-role environment

by Willie Thomas Director of Integration & Media Services Robinson ISD


t’s the end of the week, and multiple departments request items to support their students. Professional Development sessions need finalizing for the next in-house conference, and followup on Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings and instructional coaching sessions wait for development. Believe it or not, this is the shortlist for the week and doesn’t account for what happens when the phone rings with an immediate need for support. Then bam, there goes the rest of a perfectly planned day. Yet, through all day-to-day meetings, activities and tasks that compete for all of our time, the story of Robinson ISD and its amazing staff and students continues to be shared beyond the walls of the classroom. Over the past two years, Robinson ISD’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Colette Pledger, and I, Willie Thomas, the director of media integration, have purposefully and passionately poured our hearts into sharing the story of our district. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about communication challenges that changed how we share information with our district’s students, parents and staff. We knew that without consistency and quality communication, it would be an extremely tough virtual learning experience for everyone. Robinson ISD recognized that sharing our district’s story was just as important. So, through extensive research and brainstorming, the “Rocket Report” was born. I will never forget recording our first episode of the “Rocket Report.” It was our Deputy Superintendent, Tim VanCleave, Mrs. Pledger and myself in Colette’s office sitting around a computer and a microphone. The script was typed out on a Google Slide, and it took about four


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takes to complete. The idea was for the Google Slides to act as the video component. Robinson ISD hadn’t utilized social media storytelling before, especially YouTube, to help spread our message, but, just like everything else, it was time to adapt and reach our district exactly where they all were at this point. In their homes. After that first episode, we got some good feedback from the community, and this kick-started our communication production journey. Since that first episode, the audience for the “Rocket Report” has grown from 15 to just over 850 subscribers. Now, I want you to understand that we are not a 5A or 6A school in Texas with a communications department of three or more. We are simply two district administrators who want to share the pride of Robinson ISD with our community and the world. It has taken time for us to home in on how to successfully integrate the creation of quality communication within our multi-role environment. The real secret to our success is planning and relationshipbuilding with our campus administration and teachers.

...it was time to adapt and reach our district exactly where they all were at this point...

I’d like to take you through a typical production week for the “Rocket Report.” In the beginning, most of our planning took place through text and email. We would look at upcoming district events for next month and consider topics that would be most important to share. One of the biggest hurdles that we knew would give us the most struggle would be time. We wanted to make sure that when we scheduled an interview, everything we could control to make things go smoothly and quickly during the interview we did. We would send the interviewee questions ahead of time, be very specific on the length of the interview, and, most importantly, have a dedicated space set up and ready to go. So, I decided to turn my office into a studio with a camera, stationary mics, monitors, teleprompters and even a faux wood background with production front and backlights. When the interviewee arrived, it was showtime. This

space provided a controlled environment that did not have to be set up every time we wanted to interview a staff member or highlight a program. We even used the space to livestream informational events, like announcing Robinson Education Foundation grant recipients and a Q/A with your high school principal and counselors. The process became so fluid that we began a whole new weekly communication show called the “Monday Minute!” This production is geared more towards our internal district staff to share upcoming district events, professional development opportunities and other campus and district staff celebrations. As we continued down the “Rocket Report” road, we saw and felt the need for us to not only interview staff and highlight campus programs but also make our story more personal. This required more brainstorming and collaboration with our campus administration and department leaders. We wanted to highlight the great things happening in our district by telling the story of our students. This was exactly what our community was looking for, not just to be informed about what was going on at our campuses, but also about the experiences and accomplishments that our students were receiving because of the programs being offered on the campuses. As we began to plan out the rest of the year and coordinate “Rocket Report” episodes with our district events, we knew we had to identify our students to interview and create a shortlist to help tell their stories. Doing these things ahead of time realy helped us maximize our time and make the production process much more efficient and up the quality of our final product. Our community has responded well to our new studentfocused avenue of sharing district opportunities and campus highlights. Viewers are asking for more videos fitting this format and love hearing about the great things that the students experience during their journey through Robinson ISD. This process has not been 100% flawless, but sometimes we find the bulk of our growth through the failures of our efforts. Through hard work and determination, Robinson ISD is telling our story, one student at a time.

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


CLOSING THE GAP How Longview ISD connects with their Spanish-speaking community

by Francisco Rojas Public Information Officer Longview ISD


hat can a school district do to engage, connect, build trust and close the gap with its Spanishspeaking parents? Longview ISD has a student population of more than 8,000 students. The largest population is Hispanic with over 40%, which means that a good amount of those parents might be Spanish speaking. Therefore, establishing a connection based on trust with those parents has been a goal for the community relations department and the school district in general. Letters, flyers, emails and phone calls in Spanish sound interesting and, of course, are extremely important. But why not go the extra mile? Why not think outside the box? Why not build partnerships to increase that engagement? Why not optimize technological resources and social media to create a connection? The LISD community relations department had a big interest in understanding the Hispanic community and trying to identify what Spanish-speaking parents might be interested in and they came to several conclusions: “They are interested in family unity, self-care, health, community resources, entertainment for the family, being heard, as well as treated equally. Also, what the school district can do for their children and their education, and any information that could help their families in any way possible,” said Longview ISD’s spokesman Francisco Rojas. After reaching this conclusion, the Community Relations team came up with the idea to partner with a local Spanish-speaking radio station (92.7 FM Radio Vida) to start the very first Spanish-speaking school district radio show in Texas. Lobo Live is hosted by Francisco Rojas and it is a one-hour show where parents can get the latest updates and news of what’s going on in the district, school board decisions, campus events, educational parenting topics, community resources, job opportunities and where parents can get a chance to participate in weekly drawings to win prizes that are donated to the show by local businesses. The show airs every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. Once or twice a month, Francisco interviews special guests on the show, highlighting staffers within the district and representatives of local non-profits, allowing them to get exposure for their services and allowing parents to be aware of several resources in the Gregg County area. This has helped the school district earn the Spanishspeaking parents’ trust and it allows community relations to address concerns and questions that their families have and help them with their needs. “Currently, parents don’t feel ashamed to speak out and let us know what is on their mind or what issues they are bumping into with their student’s campus or any service that the district may be providing,” Rojas said. He also added “this is a big accomplishment because Spanish speaking parents are not well known for speaking out and reaching out to their school district. That trust needs to be earned first.” But Lobo Live doesn’t air only on Radio Vida 92.7 FM; it's also streamed live on the Longview ISD’s Facebook page. This increases engagement and interaction a lot more to the point where they have had listeners in South America and other cities like Houston or Tyler. 36

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Lobo Live has been a “game-changer” when it comes to building trust and communicating with Spanish-speaking parents. It has attracted organizations like Raising Cane’s and Wellness Pointe to become the official sponsors of the show. Thanks to those sponsorship funds, Lobo Live will be giving away three $1,200 scholarships to three bilingual (English and Spanish) high school seniors this year! Now that's a clear demonstration of how to cause an impact! Thanks to the support from the community, the sponsors, Radio Vida, the Longview ISD leadership and the LISD communications team, Lobo Live is now the ONLY national and state award-winning school district Spanish radio show, earning national recognition from NSPRA in 2021 and a Gold Star award from TSPRA in 2022 in less than two years since it made its debut on the air.

more fans to their stands or the Facebook page for those who wish to stay at home.

But the buck doesn’t stop there! Longview ISD community relations department took the initiative to also become the first school district in Texas to broadcast the high school soccer games with Spanish commentary. Yes, just like the pros! It is well known that a good number of Spanish speakers love soccer, and even more if their kids, nephews, nieces, grandsons, friends, cousins, etc. are playing. “With COVID-19 impacting the way we do things, our department decided to broadcast every single varsity home soccer game for Boys and Girls but with Spanish commentary and announcements,” Rojas said. That’s right, the word “GOOOOOAL” has been heard since the 2021 soccer season and this has helped them as a district attract and engage their Spanish-speaking parents a lot more.

A parent told Rojas: “It’s like watching a professional soccer game on TV, but instead, I’m watching my son play. Thank you for bringing this excitement to our home!” high school assistant boys soccer coach, Margaret Wright, who has a daughter playing for the Lady Lobos said, “We know a lot of our players’ parents can’t make the games because they have families and jobs, so this allows those parents to watch but also feel like they’re part of their children’s lives and be there to see it,” she said. “It allows me to keep up with my daughter and her game as well as be there for my job. My family and my husband’s family also don’t live here so it allows them to watch her play when they would’ve never seen her play.” Coach Wright and other parents have mentioned that thanks to the broadcasts, several kids and players have offers on the table to play college soccer. The soccer broadcasts have also brought in a lot of revenue to the district and the program. Before the broadcasts started, the program had an average of five to seven sponsors, and currently, they have 24 sponsors! High school soccer players from other schools have transferred to Longview ISD just to be a part of the Lobo soccer experience, get exposure and have recordings of moments that they will treasure forever.

The high school soccer Facebook page went from having close to 700 followers to 1.4k followers in just four months. Their videos started to get 2k-3k views and Spanish-speaking parents from other districts found this so entertaining that they also shared the broadcasts and commented during the game. The high school soccer games broadcasted in Spanish have certainly promoted the soccer program like never before. It has brought a lot

“We are convinced that we are on the right track to making our largest district population feel even more valued and important after many years of having a gap between us,” Rojas said. “The prizes, awards, revenue, recognition, and media exposure are nice, but we don’t do this for all of that. We do it for the kids and the Spanish-speaking families. Earning their trust and building a relationship with them is our greatest accomplishment with this population.” Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


by Stephanie De Los Santos Director of Client Engagement Harris County Department of Education


ngaging a multigenerational staff is not as complicated as one may think. In fact, it comes down to one basic principle in successfully managing any diverse team … treat one another with R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And yes, if the famous 1968 award-winning song by Aretha Franklin came to mind, you are on the right track to understanding at least one of the five generations that exist today. Understanding the differences and commonalities of the generations that we currently observe in the workplace is critical to establishing a welcoming environment. For the first time in history, employers today have or, at some point, will have the opportunity to witness five generations collaborate to achieve the same goal. Those five generations are Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X (Gen X), Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z).

and 2%, respectively (see figure 1).

Of those five groups, the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the group making up the highest percentage of the U.S. Working Population is Millennials with 35%, followed closely by Gen X with 33% and Baby Boomers with 25%. Gen Zs and Traditionalists make up the lowest percentage of the working population with 5%

Characteristics/Work Styles of the Five Generations When working with all five generations in the workplace, it is important to understand the different characteristics and work styles (see figure 2), as well as similarities, so that as a leader you can find common ground and create an atmosphere allowing for effective teamwork and productive outcomes when completing projects and/or tasks. Team members that will most likely showcase characteristics of being disciplined, disliking conflict and exhibiting detailed-oriented work are Traditionalists, who were born before 1946. They are also loyal and firmly believe in conformity, authority and rules as well as view history as a way to plan the future. Similar to Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, who are born between 1946 and 1964, hold a high standard of loyalty. Boomers are also goal-oriented, self-motivated, have a high work ethic and place a high priority on financial stability and retirement. This group also tends to focus on individual choices and freedoms.


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Exhibiting a strong work ethic like Boomers is the Gen X group, born in the 1965 through 1979 time period. Highly educated and having the ability to learn new technologies, this group is self-reliant and with high leadership potential. They are also family-oriented and focused on work-life balance. The group we most often hear about is Generation Y, also known as Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995. Just like Gen X, Millennials are highly educated, tech-savvy and able to integrate work and life balance. All about marketing and branding, this group is super focused on career growth. They crave change and challenge and accept diverse backgrounds easily. Finally, the newest multigenerational group is Gen Z, who were born from 1996 to the present day. This group takes being tech-savvy to another level as they are born into the digital age and are content without social interaction. Gen Z is independent, entrepreneurial, able to multitask, and have a social/emotional connection to the work they do. Their huge focus is on learning with purpose. Though characteristics and various work styles are identified for each generation, keep in mind that there are cases where the descriptions may not be applicable to all team members and/or may cross over to the different generations.

Gen X, however, are similar in that they favor face-toface communication when working with team members. The younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, are all about text messaging, social media, and blogging. While Millennials also prefer emailing (like the Gen X group), they also would rather have written instructions to complete projects and tasks. (See the breakdown of Preferred Ways Generations Communicate below).

Although the preference of communication within each generational group has held over time, interestingly enough, the pandemic changed things for all employees as companies and organizations were forced to work from home. Working from home required all multigenerational groups to develop a new norm and conform to a digital work life. As a result, according to a recent study presented by WP Engine (the WordPress technology company), 65 % of all generations say they rely on technology now more than ever. Communicating digitally has become a common ground for all generations. Specifically, this has created the perfect opportunity for older generations to embrace Millennials and Gen Z. Closing the Generational Gap with R-E-S-P-E-C-T Bridging the generation gap is critical as it helps strengthen a team and creates an atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation for all team members. When team members, no matter what generational category they fall under, know that they are accepted for who they are and appreciated for what they do, they feel the respect and reciprocate that same action to those around them.

Understanding How Each Generation Communicates When leaders grasp the various communication styles used among team members from each generation, it helps build trust and increase productivity within the department/ division. The older generations differ from younger generations as Traditionalists prefer written communication and Boomers prefer auditory communication. Boomers and

According to an online article, 5 Ways to Bridge the Generation Gap Between Employees, the author states that “when the generations are meshing well in the workplace, you’ll see a high level of employee engagement and improved workplace culture across the board.” Regardless of the generation, respect crosses all boundaries and opens the door for employees of all ages to find common ground, ultimately building trust with one another and establishing a workplace with high levels of employee engagement and productivity.

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Developing a Shared Vision of Success

with Meaningful Community Connections

by Daniel Escobar Chief Communications Officer Socorro ISD


uper Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy once said, “The first step toward creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it … Only vision allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action.” Like a new coach taking over a team, his words align perfectly with the goal of a successful school district leadership transition. The first 100 days for a new superintendent should focus on developing a shared community vision of success. Over the last two decades, I have had the opportunity to work under and alongside many great educational leaders in Texas. From Central to North Texas and my hometown of El Paso, I have been blessed to work in four large districts spanning our great state. During this time, I experienced and helped support multiple leadership transitions. While none were without their challenges, the successful ones focused heavily on community engagement and team building. The ones that weren’t so successful help solidify the importance of putting people first to build buy-in and a strong foundation that can lead to sustained success. Following these principles and adapting them to one’s local community can help prove Coach Dungy right. Working together with the community to establish and pursue a unified vision for the future can lead to years of success. From day one, a new leader needs to hit the ground learning, studying the district’s strengths, needs and challenges, reviewing data, assessing district services and developing strategic actions to move the district forward. A great resource to get an overall objective viewpoint is a district-wide climate survey, which ensures all stakeholders (including elementary students, secondary students, parents and employees) are given a voice to express their perceptions on the strengths and areas in need of improvement in the district. The superintendent and district should also go to great lengths to engage individuals from the entire school community to assess the current state of the school district and collaboratively build the district’s strategic direction, a shared vision inspiring all stakeholders to work together as a team to achieve new levels of success.


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

During the first 100 days, the new superintendent should personally: • Visit all district campuses multiple times (obviously, this may vary depending on the size of the system); • Meet with principals, teachers, staff, parents and students; • Attend and participate in various school/district events and celebrations; • Meet with district leadership teams ; • Meet with professional and auxiliary staff members; • Meet with internal auditors; • Meet with employee association leaders; • Meet with business and political leaders; • Meet with district advisory committees (students, parents and employees); • Meet with the district foundation board; • Meet with partners in education; • Meet with representatives of the faith-based community; • Meet with regional district leaders; • Host public open house meetings inviting the community-at-large; • Solicit feedback on the district website with a direct email link; and • Maintain an open-door policy with the entire school community. In addition to learning from community members, the superintendent should also focus on collecting and analyzing data to understand the strengths and challenges of individual schools, students and the district as a whole. From attendance, discipline, safety, campus climate and academic achievement to how the district spends its money, the comprehensive review of data will reveal areas of strength as well as areas in need of additional support. A thorough analysis of the formal and informal data gathered should reveal a set of consistent priorities that represent the needs and wants of the community, which should be utilized in establishing the district’s strategic direction. By ensuring that every voice counts in setting, communicating and pursuing a clear vision, the superintendent and district have a higher chance of attaining true buy-in and unifying the community on the path to “transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement through human action.” Easy enough, right? Unfortunately, the application of these principles isn’t always straightforward. All our situations are different. No two leaders are dealt the same hand, even within the same district. Especially in today’s world, there are many variables, seemingly in constant flux, for one game plan to work for all.

The transition period cannot be phoned-in or treated as simply a task to check off. Each new leader must invest the time to genuinely get to know their district community, no assumptions or generalizations can be made. Stakeholders need to feel valued and listened to. If their new superintendent does not fully engage with them or has a position in which he/she already knows what’s best for their community, they will have a hard go building lasting support. I will never forget the time many years ago when my superintendent sat in my office and shared that he and the board had agreed to end his contract, less than a year after being appointed. “I didn’t take the time to find out who built the fences around this place before I sought to move them,” he told me. This was a well-accomplished, veteran school leader. He had led successful districts and was a great educator. He simply got ahead of himself doing what he felt was best and operated as he had in his previous district, without first truly understanding the lay of the land. He hadn’t learned enough about the nuances of the district or built enough support before making changes. Not only is it important for new superintendents to be thoughtful and deliberate in their entry into a new system, but the same is also incumbent on the district’s executive leadership team preparing to receive and support the vision of their new leader. This spring, my district will welcome a new superintendent, the third in my tenure here (fifth if you count interims). How simple it would be to dust off my plans and materials from the last time around and be done. However, 10 years have passed, and it wouldn’t be in our new leaders’ nor our district’s best interest to simply paint her/him with the same brush as any of our exes. Every new leader deserves their own light, their own brand that will help them share and build support for their vision of an improved future for their school community and its stakeholders. That will be our goal as we welcome our new leader. We will be open-minded and flexible and seek to learn more about the current state of our community alongside her/ him. We will provide insight and historical context while being careful of bias and avoiding the pitfall of inserting ourselves into the equation. We will provide support and service and look forward to the continued growth and success of our great Socorro ISD school community! Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Good Leaders Build Leaders Growing Your Own Superintendent‘s Student Leadership Council by Lindsey Yancey Communications Project Manager Klein ISD


ood leaders don’t focus on gaining followers. Good leaders develop future leaders.

One of the many highlights of Klein ISD is the coveted Superintendent’s Student Leadership Council (SSLC). Beloved superintendent Dr. Jenny McGown joyfully meets with a coalition of student leaders who were selected by their campus principals ranging from grades 8 through 12 from all 15 secondary campuses. Their objective is to provide student voice and feedback on viable solutions for district initiatives focusing on continuous improvement, one of the pillars of Klein ISD’s shared vision. The SSLC student leaders study programs with a focus on leadership, communications and academics, not only improving pathways in Klein ISD but also their personal growth and development as leaders What makes SSLC a collaborative experience is that Dr. McGown learns alongside the students as they hear from different departments across the district about operations that make this school district so special. The students, and by extension, our superintendent, have learned about leaving a positive digital footprint from our IT Department, the network operations that manage the district, and ways that cybersecurity is protecting the staff and students within the district. Students learned from experts in IT how they can use social media to positively influence their future and share the good news about their school programs. SSLC also had the opportunity to learn about the 200+ pathways in the district and the importance of planning with the end in mind from the experts in College & Career Pathways. Their time in learning organizational skills, goal-setting and collaboration in group planning were advantageous not only for their current plans but plans for their future as well. The monthly SSLC meetings focus on essential leadership skills and take place in different buildings across the district that the students may have never been to before — from the live streaming and analytics in the Press Box at the district stadium to the vehicle maintenance bay and the multitude of ways the Klein ISD Police Department faithfully serves and protects our school district and community. The skills, awareness and hands-on experiences the SSLC group is learning are all opportunities to take back to their respective schools to bring this same awareness and improvement of leadership learning to their peers. We also gain feedback from the students on things happening in the district. For example, one of the activities focused on “Good Leaders Reflect to Grow,” and we had the students complete a chart on things to keep, start, and stop doing in our schools to ensure every student is successful. That’s why we are all here, right? As a former teacher, I love meeting with these kids each month and hearing their input and seeing them form relationships with each other and with Dr. McGown as they all work toward one common goal. The future of Klein ISD looks good!


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


by Evan Henson & Lila Stanley Public Relations Specialists North East ISD


veryone needs a recipe for communicating clearly with parents, students and community members. There’s an important parallel between crafting a delicious meal and a well-crafted story: you want both to be consumed, enjoyed and thought of long after it’s served. But if you don’t know the recipe for great storytelling or enchiladas, both become increasingly more difficult. The phrase "Fold in the Cheese" comes from a famous scene in the award-winning television show "Schitt’s Creek." Mother and son duo David and Moira Rose are making an enchilada dish that requires them to fold in the cheese. Sounds simple enough, right? But neither of them understands what that means. How do you fold in the cheese? And why is this the preferred method? If you need a laugh, look up the video online. It’s as funny as it is accurate. Sometimes we think we’re communicating clearly, but the message is lost in translation.


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Before we dive into the recipe and dance around what it means to fold in the cheese, it’s important to conduct an inventory check in the kitchen. At North East ISD in San Antonio, this started with surveying our employees, parents and community to find out what kind of stories they want to see. What do they care about? The results were resounding and they prompted us to focus on telling people-centered stories. For example, if one of your elementary schools is turning 40, plan ahead. Ask administrators which teacher has been there the longest. Check and see if any former principals or teachers are coming back for the celebration. Are there any parents who are former students with children now attending the same school? Center your story around the right person and how this school has positively impacted their life. By adding this people-first ingredient to your recipe, your average anniversary story will go down a lot sweeter. The second ingredient will help you work smarter, not harder. A simple story submission form or email address allows those stories to come to you. North East ISD utilizes an easy-to-remember email address to funnel story ideas, photos and spotlight ideas. Ours is news@neisd.net. It’s easy to remember; even if you forget, we also have an easy-to-find story submission tab on our district website. A staple in your kitchen should always be those genuine person-to-person connections. Visit your campuses, pass around your business cards and let it be known that you’re here to help tell their story. The third ingredient is a hearty helping of homerun hooks. Unlike fold in the cheese, this direction is exactly what it sounds like. Your hook is going to “hook” your audience. The first thing they read (or taste) needs to pique their interest. We have found that the best way to determine this is to stop and share that story with someone else. What’s the most interesting thing about the subject to you? What was something they said that stuck with you long

after the interview ended? Can you write about an incredible photo or video? Once you find out the most interesting aspect of the story, you can start crafting the perfect first bite. Now that you have all the ingredients, it’s time to plate your dish. What is the best presentation of your story? NEISD calls this the finest format. There are so many ways to tell a story. There may not be a wrong way to tell a story, but there’s definitely a right way. Some stories benefit best from a long-form video package that tells a more compact, in-depth story. In the social media world, sometimes shorter is better. And you should always lead with your best visual element. A short video with captions or a reel on Instagram may present better than a web writeup. A thorough employee testimonial with quotes may be the right fit for your employee newsletter or website. Here’s one more secret ingredient to think about: brand when you can. Using a consistent branded graphics or hashtags can help your community know what they are looking at. It can also help them associate you with great stories. NEISD uses the hashtag #theNEISDway. It goes on everything for social media. It’s sort of like adding a keyword to every story or putting it into a folder online. That brand helps people find our stories and gives them a hashtag to follow. Got graduations coming up? Create a graphic look for those specific images so that when people see them, they immediately know what they are getting. Take a look at all of your ingredients and then ask yourself, "What’s the best way to present this meal?" It’s important to be clear and concise when you’re asking someone to fold in the cheese. But as it turns out, it’s really not too hard, once you know what it is you are being asked to do.

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


We asked our members to send in their best shots, and boy, did they deliver! We received a record-breaking 76 submissions, up more than 50 from our first year. The winning cover photos were chosen by a group of photographers, artists, editors, art directors and creatives, all of whom are impartial and not connected to Texas public schools. With so many entries and spectacular images, as you will see on the next pages, you can imagine how difficult it was for our judges to choose. They had such a hard time that in addition to 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, this year, they added two honorable mentions. Thank you to everyone who entered and shared your talent with us! We can tell by the moments you captured that you are deeply dedicated to your districts, students and communities and have a keen eye for visual storytelling. And that's a beautiful thing.

First Place Ashley Salas Laredo ISD


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org



Jonathan Frey, Humble ISD

Rony Canales, Spring ISD

Chase Geurin, Medina Valley ISD

Luke Rabalais Aldine ISD

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Abbie Geveshausen Cypress-Fairbanks ISD

Ahmad Alzubi Sherman ISD

Alexis L. Castillo South San Antonio ISD

Amy Pawlak Bullard ISD

Angel H. Verdejo Jr. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD

Anthony Mireles Channelview ISD

Beth Trimble, CPC Red Oak ISD

Bobby Trevino Laredo ISD

Bryan Benway Boerne ISD

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Casandra Lorentson Corpus Christi ISD

Chelsea Ceballos Klein ISD

Cheryal Loosmore Lake Travis ISD

Chris Mycoskie Community ISD

Chris White Bastrop ISD

Christina Williamson Duncanville ISD

Claudia Rodriguez Laredo ISD

Cristal Isaacks Levelland ISD

Claudia McWhorter Eanes ISD


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Crystel Matern Gregory-Portland ISD

Cynthia M. Arellano Roma ISD

Dayna Owen Friendswood ISD

Erin Gregg, APR Lubbock ISD

Haley Stewart Red Oak ISD

Hillary Hopson Duncanville ISD

Horacio Hernandez San Elizario ISD

Ian M. Halperin Wylie ISD

Jacob Walker Tyler ISD Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org



Jamie Fails Willis ISD

Jean Ann Collins Princeton ISD

Jeannie Meza-Chavez San Elizario ISD

Jess Croshaw Northwest ISD

Jessica Gauthier Lakeworth ISD

Jessica Williams Klein ISD

Josh Wucher Transformation Waco

Kelsey Golz Friendswood ISD

Kelsey Johnson Silsbee ISD

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Kelsey Picou Ingleside ISD

Kristine Hill Eagle Mountin-Saginaw ISD

Lauri Anzaldua Bastrop ISD

Kim Pagach Caldwell ISD

Kyle Heimbigner Greenville ISD

Linda Aschenbrener Round Rock ISD

Kimberly Esparza Uplift Education

Larissa Loveless Palestine ISD

Lisa Magers Cleburne ISD

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org



Marcial Guajardo Pflugerville ISD

Maribel Gutierrez Tyler ISD

Mary Henderson Senter Waco ISD

Mary Nell Sanchez South San Antonio ISD

Melissa Gonzalez Pine Tree ISD

Mike Gutt Coppell ISD

Monica Saenz Southside ISD

Nick Gravois Lewisville ISD

Octavio Caballero Corpus Christi ISD

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

Paola Arcos United ISD

Perla Magallon San Elizario ISD

Rachel Moore Alvin ISD

Reece Waddell Sanger ISD

Sally Andrews Vidor ISD

Sam Eaton Midland ISD

Sarah Gardner Meridian School

Shannon Schwartz Lubbock ISD

Sharon Schwartz Burnet CISD

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Shelby Akin Pleasant Grove ISD

Skyler Hefley Tyler ISD

Susan Ard, CPC Cleveland ISD

Terencia Lee Klein ISD

Todd Kleiboer Sherman ISD

Ty Parker Lubbock ISD

Zach Perkins New Braunfels ISD


Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org

for sharing your talents with us

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS Leigh Arlitt, Bay City ISD McKinsey Bellar, Dumas ISD Matthew Bieniek, Cleveland ISD Marlo Bitter, Carthage ISD Lynn Botts, Taylor Middle School Victoria Bragg, Bay City ISD Alexis Castillo, South San Antonio ISD Alexandra Coscetti, Gregory-Portland ISD Lara Foss, E3 Alliance Abigail Honnas, Apptegy Annette Johnson, Timpson ISD Selasi Kudowor, New Caney ISD Deedra LaPray, Vidor ISD Nicole Larson, Sweeny ISD PJ Mills, New Caney ISD Yvette Perez, Uvalde CISD Rebecca Potter, Atlanta ISD Graysen Reid, Forney ISD Loren Rivera, Harts Bluff ISD Tamy Smalskas, Carroll ISD Brooke Trahan, Brenham ISD Kanesha Waites, Lamar CISD Karen Walker, Anna ISD as of 7/1/22

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


Important Dates JULY 17-20 22 27 29

NSPRA annual seminar in Chicago, IL TSPRA State Office closed TSPRA July newsletter publishes TSPRA State Office closed

AUGUST 1 2023-2024 TSPRA officer nomination applications available for President-Elect, At-Large VP, Place 1, East Texas VP, West Central VP, Central VP and Northwest VP 2 2022-2023 Regional meetings posted on website 4 2022 TSPRA Key Communicator Announced 5 TSPRA State Office closed 12 TSPRA State Office closed 15-19 TSPRA external audit 17 August newsletter publishes 19 TSPRA State Office closed 26 TSPRA State Office closed SEPTEMBER 1 Deadline for nomination applications for President-Elect, At-Large VP, Place 1, East Texas VP, West Central VP, Central VP 1 Deadline for appointments to the 2022-2023 TSPRA Nominating Committee 1 Deadline for dues renewal contest 2 TSPRA State Office closed 5 Labor Day Holiday- TSPRA State Office closed 7 Portal opens for submitting #TSPRA23 conference proposals to present 12 TSPRA Member Review of Financial Records and Procedures Committee Meeting 14 TSPRA weekly newsletter resumes 15 TSPRA leaders expected to have 2022-2023 dues renewed 20 Open Water portal opens for Star Awards entries 22 TSPRA Executive Committee meets in San Antonio 22 TSPRA Nominating Committee meets 23-24 TSPRA presents 2022 Key Communicator award at annual TASA TASB Convention OCTOBER 1 Applications for #TSPRA23 Conference scholarships available 10 Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day – TSPRA State Office Closed 12 #TSPRA23 Conference registration opens 31 Deadline to submit proposals to present at #TSPRA23 Conference Five online learning sessions to be announced in September.

More info : www.TSP RA.o



Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


e v a S ate



Annual Conference February 20-23 Omni Fort Worth

Summer 2022 | TSPRA.org


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