TSPRA Communication Matters Spring 2022

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Spring 2022 | www.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.

School Revenue Partners provides school districts sponsorship revenue generated from local businesses who want to sponsor weekly e-newsletters, websites, mobile apps, and other communication channels utilized by the members of your community.

855-790-0001 www.schoolrevenuepartners.com 2

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org

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

CENTRAL AREA Marco Alvarado Lake Travis ISD

2022-2023 OFFICERS PRESIDENT Rebecca Villarreal, APR New Braunfels ISD PRESIDENT-ELECT Megan Overman, APR, CPC Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Veronica V. Sopher Fort Bend ISD EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Linsae Snider TSPRA

VICE PRESIDENTS 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 Justin Dearing Grapevine-Colleyville ISD WEST CENTRAL AREA Jennifer Marshall-Higgins, CPC ESC Region 12

NORTHWEST TEXAS AREA Kenneth Dixon Lubbock ISD FAR WEST AREA Daniel Escobar Chief Communications Officer Socorro ISD SAN ANTONIO AREA Kim Cathey Floresville ISD AT-LARGE POSITION 1 Jennifer Bailey, CPC Belton ISD AT-LARGE POSITION 2 Stephanie De Los Santos HCDE 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. Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Spring 2022 | Volume II, No. 4

& 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


Veronica Castillon, APR Laredo ISD Cissa Madero Pearland ISD Dustin Taylor Longview ISD

PROVIDING professional development for its members


IMPROVING communication between Texans and their public schools

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Linsae Snider lsnider@tspra.org

Member benefits include:

PROGRAMS MANAGER Janet Crock janet@tspra.org


TSPRA.org info@tspra.org


Jenny Bridges, CPC; Veronica Castillon, APR; Janet Crock; Michael Dudas; Sarah Dugas-Richard; Hailee Fojtasek, MBA, CPC; Earl Gill; Adam J. Holland; Riney Jordan; Nicole Lyons; Amy Pawlak, CPC; Samantha Ruiz; Monica Saenz; Kimberly Simpson; Dustin Taylor; Craig Verley; Andy Welch

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.


Springtime is upon us! To some, it means warmer weather, blooming flowers or more time outdoors. For those in school PR, it also means planning awards ceremonies, preparing for graduation and praying a full moon does not fall on Friday the 13th in May (it does not; I checked). Either way, all these factors are part of the world around us; we are all the better for it. We rise to the challenge, rely on each other and weather the storm. Recently, a colleague contacted me with an issue that required assistance. I told her that “struggle” is the new “pivot” and offered to help. She was grateful and asked, “It gets better, right? LOL.” Being the optimistic person I am, I reassured her that it would get better and to believe it will. I can’t stress enough that being a TSPRAn has more benefits than high-quality professional development and a stellar state conference. There is a network of professionals just a phone call or email away. The members’ wealth of knowledge is the most significant benefit. So please reach out to your fellow TSPRAns and get connected! I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to give a huge “thank you” to Andy Welch, author of the Eduledge, for his years of service and the in-depth content he provided. I have read almost every issue and have greatly benefited from this insight. Finally, I wanted to share my great admiration for Executive Director Linsae Snider, who retires at the end of June. It is hard to think of TSPRA without her. She has been a great friend and mentor to me and many others. She made us better as an organization and made me better as a school communications professional. The process to find our next executive director is underway and will take several more weeks. We hope to have our new ED named by the end of June. I appreciate all of you that participated in the process and helped provide feedback. Keep up the great work! Rebecca Villarreal, APR Director of Communications New Braunfels ISD TSPRA President 2022-2023


Fall 2021 | www.TSPRA.org

VP CENTRAL AREA Marco Alvarado Lake Travis ISD

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

VP NORTHWEST TEXAS Kenneth Dixon Lubbock ISD


VP FAR WEST AREA Daniel Escobar Socorro ISD


VP SAN ANTONIO AREA Kim Cathey Floresville ISD


VP AT-LARGE POSITION 1 Jennifer Bailey, CPC Belton ISD


AT-LARGE POSITION 2 Stephanie De Los Santos HCDE

VP NORTH CENTRAL AREA Justin Dearing Grapevine-Colleyville ISD

AT-LARGE POSITION 3 Sherese Nix-Lightfoot Garland ISD

VP WEST CENTRAL AREA Jennifer Marshall-Higgins, CPC ESC Region 12

PARLIAMENTARIAN Christina Courson Lockhart ISD


PRESIDENT Rebecca Villarreal, APR New Braunfels ISD




In a Minute Industry facts, figures & fun



Member Moment Getting to know fellow TSPRAns

Thank You, Andy Members express gratitude for this TSRPA legend



Q & A Platinum Award Winner

Shining Stars! Party pics from this year’s Star Awards dinner


Point of View Amanda Simpson, Coppell



EduLege Top news in school communications

TSPRA Professional Awards Meet this year’s winners



5 in 5 What do you plan to do this summer to refresh both personally and professionally?

“We Love Linsae” TSPRAns say farewell to our beloved executive director


Linsae’s Letter A retrospecitve look as TSPRA’s ED


Prom: A Blast from the Past A fun retrospective of this rite of passage


Dear, Me What advice would you give yourself as a high-school senior?


An Event to Remember How to make a school’s building dedication special


Gimmick Days Add more fun to your social media posts with these great ideas


Taming the Roar A better way to de-escalate tough conversations


Turn Your Press Release into the Ultimate Multitool Tips to get the most bang for your buck with powerful media outreach


Conference Exhibitors A list of this year’s supporters


TSPRA Talk What’s happening in TSPRA


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In a Minute

by Tracie Seed

While dress styles have changed since 1962 (when TSPRA was founded), prom is still one of the most important rites of passage for high schoolers. The other thing that has changed is the cost! Check out the current national price range for prom night celebrations.

Tickets $20 - $250 Dress $100 - $600 Accessories $20 - $100 Shoes $20 - $150 Hair & Makeup $70 - $150 Nails $40 - $120 Tux $50 - $250 Flowers $15 - $45 Photos $20 - $50 Limo $400 - $600 Dinner $40 - $200 Source: promgirl.com

Tidbits & Trivia The word “muscle” comes from a Latin term meaning “little mouse.” The largest volcano in the solar system, Mars’ Olympus Moons, is three times taller than Mount Everest. Armadillos swallow air to become buoyant when they swim. Lightning can heat the air it passes through to 50,000 degrees. Source: bestlifeonline.com

National Celebration Days

April 18-22 Nat’l Volunteer Recognition Week April 27 Nat’l Administrative Professional's Day 10

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org

May 1 School Principal's Day

May 11 School Nurse Day

May 2-6 Teacher Appreciation Week May 13 School Communicators Day May 6 School Lunch Hero Day

May 18 Speech Pathologist Day

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

r a m m a Gr Ti me

Comma After Dear, Hello & Hi

The word "Dear" is an adjective. It describes the noun it precedes, so you put a comma after the name.


Example Dear Susan,

You can also use a colon.

• • •

We understand that some students may have raw and uncertain feelings and questions about (topic/ cause of walkout). Walking out of school is not the solution. Those participating in walkouts are in defiance of district rules and will be subject to discipline. We encourage students to return to school, where our teaching and support staff members are working to empower young people to think about difficult issues, make connections between others and themselves, build a compassionate and ethical society and uphold democracy. Go to TSPRA Document Vault, accessible through your member portal, for more talking points & inspiration.

Example Dear John: When the salutation in your letter or email starts with "Hello" or "Hi," then you should put a comma before the name of the person you're addressing. It is also standard practice to put a comma after the name of the person you're addressing. Examples Hello, Bill, Hi, Annie, Source: Grammar Monster

JUNE Created and supported by music industry legends Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright and Dyana Williams, Black Music Month was first decreed on June 7, 1979, by President Jimmy Carter. Celebrated during the month of June, the observance’s name was changed in 2009 by President Barack Obama to African American Music Appreciation Month. It is a time to celebrate creative inspiration and appreciate the tremendous impact that African American music has had on generations. Historically rooted in rich African traditions and the conflicted slave trade, Black folk music provided the soil for jazz and eventually other genres to grow. The month honors the history and rich African traditions that gave birth to different styles of music such as rap, hiphop, jazz, rhythm and blues, barbershop and swing. From tales of slavery and racism and fighting for their basic human rights to finding their heritage and values in their lyrics, Black music covers a vast range of topics that have great significance for this country. nationalday.com Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Getting to know your fellow TSPRAns

Karlee Starr Custer Communications Specialist Santa Fe ISD

What did you do before this job? I was a secondary history teacher for eight years and an assistant principal for six years. What is something TSPRA colleagues need to know about you? I have worked in our district for 10 years. I am excited to take on a new role in the district and to be the voice of our district. I love highlighting the positive impact our district has on our students’ education pathway as well as showing the public the amazing things our staff is doing daily to create an excellent learning environment for our students. What is something TSPRA colleagues would not expect to know about you? I am an avid outdoorswoman. I love hunting, fishing and traveling to new places with my husband and two children. What is something on your bucket list? I would love to travel to New Zealand to hike, explore the culture and go red stag hunting.

Courtney Anderson Dunning Web Content Coordinator Denton ISD

What did you do before this job? I was the districtwide webmaster at Mobile County Public Schools in Mobile, Alabama for eight years. I worked in the Department of Information Technology and was the administrator for Intrado SchoolMessenger and Digital Media Signage software as well. What is something TSPRA colleagues need to know about you? Coming from an IT background, I’m very excited to join and work with a great group of communication professionals. I’m very passionate about user-friendly, informative district and school websites. Supporting campus web managers in their effort to enhance and improve their web presence is my priority. Since Denton ISD is the fastest-growing school district in North Texas, our websites are the first source of information for families interested in moving to the area. What is something TSPRA colleagues would not expect to know about you? I recently moved to Denton, Texas from Mobile, Alabama along with my three sons. I enjoy working out, decorating my home, trying new recipes on Pinterest and designing websites for friends and family. What is something on your bucket list? I’d like to travel to Thailand, Italy and the Maldives


Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org

Want to We wa be featured nt to k ? no Email info@t w you! spra.o rg

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Platinum Star Award Winner Socorro ISD by Christy Flores-Jones Director of Public Relations Socorro ISD

Who made up the Socorro team that worked on the winning piece? The entire SISD public relations team, led by our Chief Communications Officer Daniel Escobar and me, contributed to the winning piece. We have an outstanding team, including writers, graphic artists, videographers, a photographer, a social media specialist and an administrative assistant, that worked together to compile and produce the nomination. How did you come up with the concept for your piece and why did you produce it? The COVID-19 pandemic was not anything we had experienced before. However, the dire need for consistent, accurate, timely communication for our students and families was obvious. It was natural for us to refine our communication methods and develop reliable, systematic ways to keep our community informed as the situations changed by the minute. We knew it would be critical to plan and execute imperative communication throughout the entire school year going into the unknown. How long did the process take from A to Z? We prioritized time to work on the nomination and worked intermittently for about three weeks to compile, write, layout, and proof our nomination. During the school year, we make every effort to archive and organize files as they are produced to be able to easily locate and reference our work, which helps in putting the final nomination together. Why did you decide to enter it in the Platinum Award category? It was an all-encompassing, comprehensive campaign that entailed many hours of planning,


Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org

strategizing, collaborating and executing. Our coordination and cooperative work with departments, schools and outside agencies are continuous in Team SISD. With this campaign, we accomplished copious necessary and helpful materials and messages for our students, staff, schools and community in the most difficult of times. What does it mean to you and your team to have won this year? Receiving any recognition for our work, big or small, is always rewarding because it means it helped someone, somehow. We are beyond proud to have won the Platinum Award for the second time and winning it for our communication campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic is phenomenal. It means the world to us because we have been laboring in one of the most challenging times in the education field and in an unprecedented time in history. We put in countless hours, we worked as a team, and we did it all to keep our community informed and reassured. This is always the core of our work; however, to do it during the pandemic when things change on a dime daily, sometimes hourly, was certainly something that challenged us as professionals and tested our dedication, work ethic, patience and compassion. It is truly humbling and exciting for our efforts to be recognized as exceptional. What tips do you have for other districts? It is helpful to stay organized by creating timelines, keeping track of drafts and final work, archiving media coverage, keeping clean files (digital and hard copies) to refer to what you have produced and to be able to readily access your examples. Be sure to follow closely the award criteria and include all aspects to demonstrate research, analysis, communication and evaluation in your nomination. Clearly identify your goals and objectives and write concisely and descriptively to answer the questions required for the summary of the nomination. Is there anything else you would like for us to know? Everyone in the world has been going through the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic; incredible, inspiring and unbelievable work has been created because of it. We salute school districts, educational systems and communicators in all professions for their tireless efforts to serve their communities and audiences. While I understand there have been far greater roles during the pandemic, we are truly grateful to have had an opportunity to serve our community with the work that we have been trained to deliver.

From left to right: Rebecca Villarreal, APR, TSPRA President Mark Saldana, SISD Public Relations Coordinator Acavius Largo, SISD Production Specialist Daniel Escobar, SISD Chief Communications Officer Andy Perez, SISD Senior Graphic Designer Aria Woodcoff, Intrado SchoolMessenger Linsae Snider, TSPRA Executive Director Cesar Ruiz, SISD Multimedia Specialist

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Beyond the Masks: Pivoting Back to Telling Positive Public Education Stories

by Amanda Simpson Director of Communications Coppell ISD

To mask or not to mask? To offer virtual learning or only be in person? These were the hot-button questions Coppell ISD and other Texas school districts faced at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. As the COVID-19 crisis continued into its third year, the CISD Communications and Community Engagement Department team made a conscious decision to move beyond the masks and virtual learning debates and focus on sharing positive public education stories with its community. The CISD communications team felt it was time to pivot back to telling the stories that showcase the good of what is happening in our schools every day. One crucial tactic to accomplish this goal was to no longer use social media to share district news with the community and instead focus on only positive feature stories. Recognizing that CISD social media channels, especially Facebook, could become a hotbed of negative comments on certain issues, especially on masks and other pandemic items, the district’s communications team decided to use only the website and direct emails to families and employees to share news items. All our other communication channels would be primarily focused on student and teacher achievements and feature stories. The team developed a dynamic editorial calendar to plan these stories and where they would appear. Staff worked with CISD schools to plan story walks, where a member of the communications team would walk a campus with a principal and administrator to discover good stories to share.


Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org

The goal of this strategy was to increase trust and positive engagement with the CISD community. Determining the success of these efforts is through the data that the Communications and Community Engagement Department collects. The CISD communications team uses analytics to track open and click rates for both its internal and external newsletters, as well as clicks on links on the website and social media engagements. Interactive QR codes in the CISD biannual “Our Story” magazine also measure engagement. Data from August through the end of January shows that our Facebook reach has increased 52 percent and our Instagram reach has increased 86 percent over the previous year. In addition, our open rates for our external “Informed” newsletter increased 24 percent to around 65 percent as a result of this strategy. This data is showcased via a visual dashboard on display within the department and shared with the superintendent and school board to illustrate the success and value of the communications staff. Like many other school districts in Texas, employee morale was an issue that CISD was working to address. As part of this positive story approach, the CISD communications used its internal newsletter “The Coppell ISD Connection” to recognize employees in conjunction with national celebrations such as Principals Month, School Counseling Week, etc. Brief questionnaires were also sent to staff to share quotes and information about themselves that could then be moved over to a social media post thanking staff, including bus drivers, custodians and substitute teachers. Small gestures of appreciation can mean so much to hard-working employees. Another tactic used by the communications team was to pitch local media to cover stories in CISD schools. The staff realized that our local television reporters were also looking to cover education stories that did not involve masking or other issues. When media were invited back into schools, positive media coverage began to happen to cover the great things happening in CISD schools.

Stories local media covered for CISD included students at Denton Creek Elementary writing thank you cards for their bus driver for Veteran’s Day, Mockingbird Elementary students raking leaves for neighbors for the “Great Rakesving'' and students at Cottonwood Creek Elementary School taking the bus to Coppell High School to have high school students help elementary learners write letters to Santa. The later story aired at the top of a local 6 p.m. broadcast, the highest-rated TV news program in Dallas/FortWorth reaching nearly 1 million viewers. In addition to helping achieve an important goal of the CISD Communications Comprehensive Strategic Communications Plan, this focus on accentuating the positive in terms of stories has had another important benefit. CISD communications team members, like many school district public relations professionals in Texas, have experienced burnout due to the pandemic, upset parents and community members and one crisis after another. The shift to focus on positive storytelling has helped the CISD communications staff be able to remember the “why” behind what we do, which has also improved our morale.

Do you have a POV you’d like to share? Email info@tspra.org

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


by Andy Welch

EduLege Extra Some of the timely issues that have been addressed in recent editions of EduLege

‘No patience for political games…’ That task force that Governor Abbott ordered to find solutions to the Texas teacher shortage has basically doubled its membership — after criticism that only two classroom teachers were part of the original 28-member group. The Texas Education Agency now says that the task force will include two dozen classroom educators, so the group includes an “equal representation” of teachers and school administrators. The original appointments consisted of 26 administrators — some of whom had never taught in the classroom. Zeph Capo, the president of Texas Federation of Teachers, called the makeup of the original task force “disrespectful and degrading.” But perhaps the most scorching public criticism came from high school English teacher Gabriela Diaz of Houston, a 16-year veteran of the classroom. “One week, Abbott is threatening jail time and the next he wonders why teachers are leaving in droves. He need only reflect on his agenda to understand why educators have no patience for political games right now,” Ms. Diaz wrote in an Op-Ed column in the Houston Chronicle. TEA announced that Dallas teacher Josue Torres will now serve as the chair of the task force and that the newly expanded group will be organized into several workgroups to address the different challenges contributing to the teacher shortages.


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“Providing this adjustment to the 2021-22 school year will ensure school systems have the funding they need to retain the best and brightest teachers and provide quality education to all public school students across Texas,” Governor Abbott said in a statement. The announcement comes after House Public Education Committee Chair Harold Dutton, D-Houston, and his committee sent a letter to Mr. Abbott and Education Commissioner Mike Morath, requesting funding relief.

Dallas classroom educator Josue Tamarez Torres will chair the state task force that will address staffing shortages in Texas schools. Photo by Ben Torres for the Dallas Morning News.

Governor Abbott created the task force just days after Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke outlined his own education policies at a Dallas town hall meeting. Mr. O’Rourke had stressed the importance of teacher recruitment and retention. Staff shortages have forced campuses to close for several school days throughout the pandemic and sent administrators subbing into the classrooms. School leaders have called for help for months. In his directive to TEA, Mr. Abbott wrote that the task force “should investigate the challenges teacher vacancies are causing for school districts, explore best practices for addressing this shortage and research the possibility for flexibility of certification, placement and hiring.” The task force is scheduled to meet every other month for a year. The first meeting took place prior to spring break — and before teachers were added to the task force — and details of what was discussed has not been shared publicly. Another adjustment… Governor Abbott and TEA have announced that school districts that have encountered pandemic-related declines in student attendance this year may be eligible for an adjustment that allows them to drop poorly attended days from the state funding formula. Texas’ public school funding formula is largely based on Average Daily Attendance (ADA), or how many students show up for class each day.

In the letter, the committee noted that student attendance has remained erratic over the last year because of Covid. Students may have missed class because they fell ill or were exposed to the virus and quarantined. In the year before the pandemic, the average attendance rate at Texas schools was more than 95 percent. But some districts have faced attendance as low as 70 percent at times during the past year, the legislators wrote. Every one percent drop-off in student attendance equates to a $600,000 drop in state funding to districts. Chairman Dutton’s committee suggested basing attendance numbers on the average rate from 2018-2019 and enrollment on the current year’s classes. The new finance fix will allow districts to exclude school days from their average count where schools have low percentage of attendance rates. Attendance rates will be considered low if they fall below the average of the rate from the first four six-week periods in 2019-2020 — before the pandemic — TEA spokesman Frank Ward clarified. Districts will be able to use this adjustment for the first 24 weeks of the 2020-2021school year. This is not the first time that Texas officials have made funding adjustments during the pandemic. State leaders imposed a “hold harmless” provision during the 20192020 school year, meaning that districts were not penalized for unexpected attendance declines. Districts were funded based on attendance projections that were made before the pandemic struck. Rather than ADA — as Texas does — many other states fund their schools based on student enrollment, which some argue establishes a more stable budget for the entirety of the school year. In states that fund schools based on how many students show up each day, crises like the pandemic can create turbulent budgeting problems for schools.

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continued from Page 19 ‘A life of significance…’ About two decades have passed since Dawn Blubaugh Inocencio and her twin sister Christine walked through the hallways of South Grand Prairie High School.

“Christine Blubaugh is no longer remembered as the girl who was murdered. She will now be remembered as the girl who lived a life of significance and one whose death has saved the life of other kids,” he added.

Earlier this year — alongside family members, former classmates and teachers — Dawn returned to her alma mater to celebrate her late sister’s legacy: a new law named in Christine’s honor aimed at preventing dating violence.

The proposal received bipartisan support early in the regular legislative session in 2021 and made it all the way to Mr. Abbott’s desk — before receiving a surprise veto. In his veto statement, the Governor said the bill failed to recognize the right of parents to opt their kids out of the instruction. The Governor later signed the act — once it was amended — to allow parents the right to opt their children out of the lessons.

In 2000, Christine, then 16, was murdered by her exboyfriend. The tragedy motivated the Blubaughs and Ronnie Morris, the police officer who responded to the incident, to advocate for greater awareness and education about how to prevent such violence. The result of their work was the Christine Blubaugh Act, which was signed into law by Governor Abbott in September. The law requires that middle and high school students learn how to identify dating and family violence as well as child abuse. Christine’s family and friends gathered at her former school during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month to celebrate the new legislation.

According to the Dallas Morning News, one in three U.S. teenagers now experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse with someone with whom they are in a relationship, and 43 percent of women in college report experiencing violent or abusive dating behaviors, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Teenagers in need of help can call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 to reach an advocate who can provide support. Other resources are also available at www.loveisrespect.org. ‘A phony, politicized storyline…’ The Texas Federation of Teachers is thumbing its nose at Governor Abbott’s proposal to create a Parental Bill of Rights — the latest political proposal to emerge from the on-going debates over the teaching of so-called Critical Race Theory, banning library books and the pushback against Covid protections in public schools. “When it comes to the classroom, Texas parents have every right to know what their children are being taught,” Governor Abbott told an audience of parents at a Lewisville charter school.

Dawn Blubaugh, center, listens as a proclamation is read at South Grand Prairie High School, celebrating the passage of Senate Bill 9, the “Christine Blubaugh Act.” The new state law requires that public schools provide instruction and materials and adopt policies relating to the prevention of child abuse, family. and dating violence. Photo by Lawrence Jenkins for the Dallas Morning News.

“Starting today, teenagers will be armed with an education, with the tools they need to protect themselves against abuse by recognizing the warning signs of an abusive relationship and the resources to escape,” said Officer Morris, who now serves as the assistant chief of the Grand Prairie Police Department. 20

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The Governor says that he wants to expand the access that parents have to their students’ school curriculum and educational material. And he wants to make sure that schools quickly address parents’ concerns over what is being taught or about campus policies. His plan also includes giving parents the ability to veto a school’s decision to advance their child to the next grade level when a parent feels it is necessary. Already, the Legislature has given parents the option of students repeating a grade if they feel like their children fell behind because of disruptions in learning caused by the pandemic. TFT President Zeph Capo called Mr. Abbott’s proposal “a

phony, politicized storyline.” He says the Texas Legislature passed a Parents Bill of Rights in 1995 — which is codified in Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code. Governor Abbott’s proposal comes as Republicans nationwide see battles against school districts and school boards as a winning political issue heading into the 2022 midterm elections. Big-name Republicans around the nation — including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Congressional Leader Kevin McCarthy of California — have pushed similar plans. Governor DeSantis signed a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” into law last summer that makes it easier for parents of Florida schoolchildren to opt them out of vaccinations or object to course materials. Rising property values + Declining student enrollment = Top of the heap… The Austin School District is sending more taxpayer dollars than any other school system in Texas to the state’s socalled “Share-the-Wealth” program, according to a new study.

in the 2020-2021 school year with other school districts. For context, that amount is three-and-a-half times more than what the Houston School District paid. Houston — the state’s largest public school district — has a student enrollment of approximately 196,000 students, compared to Austin’s 75,000. The total that Austin paid to the state last year is more than what was collected from the three districts below it on the list — Houston, Plano and Midland — combined. Austin’s “Share-the-Wealth” payments have consistently dwarfed other districts’ over the last decade. During that time, Austin has experienced declining student enrollment, while property values have skyrocketed. That placed the district at a distinct disadvantage, especially since nearly half of its students qualify as Economically Disadvantaged, the TSC study notes. The study calls on the Texas Legislature to overhaul the “Share-the-Wealth” concept in its 2013 session. In 2019, the Legislature passed sweeping bipartisan legislation that eased some of the tax burden on school districts. But because property values have soared since then, the TSC report found that the state “recaptured” $1.4 billion more than what was projected. That extra money was ultimately used to balance the State Budget for Fiscal Years 2022-2023. “Those dollars should be directed straight back to public education for the benefit of all students,” the study's authors wrote. “In other words, if taxpayers are paying more than expected in school taxes, it should actually be the schools that benefit.”

The decades-old system, known commonly as “Robin Hood,” or “Share-the-Wealth,” is meant to balance funding among less property-wealthy school districts, with the goal of leveling out the per-student spending across all districts statewide.

Long-time TSPRA member Andy Welch, the retired Communication Director for the Austin Independent School District, compiles and writes two issues of EduLege every week during the school year, copies of which are typically distributed by the state TSPRA office to members on Mondays and Thursdays. That schedule is altered for holidays, and for winter, spring and summer breaks—and when he needs the occasional day off. Email any questions, suggestionss or concerns to Andy at andywelch1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @welch_andy.

Using TEA data, the Texas School Coalition study found that Austin “shared” more than $710 million of its wealth Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Thank You, Andy

For more than 10 years, former TSPRA member Andy Welch has written two weekly editions of TSPRA’s EduLege, which has provided members with a detailed overview of education news from around the state and country. It is an invaluable resource for TPSRA throughout the year and doubly so when the Texas Legislature is meeting in Austin. In all, Andy has written close to 1,000 issues. Here, TSPRA members express their extreme gratitude for his decade of service. For his hard work and dedication, he was recognized as the Key Communicator in 2021. Andy will retired at the end of June 2022. Thank you, Andy, for your years of service. Your expertise and thoughtful reporting have been a rich resource for everyone in our organization. We will miss you!


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Andy has been a wonderful mentor and friend. His work with EduLege has served as an amazing resource for me, helping me to understand oftentimes difficult yet critical legislation and news impacting our schools. His insight and perspective are unparalleled. Andy will be truly missed. Marco Alvarado Executive Director of Communications & Community Relations Lake Travis ISD When I see an EduLege alert pop up in my inbox, I get a little adrenaline rush flowing. The reason? Working in a small town on the Texas-Mexico border, I rarely hear anything going on at the big city on the hill. I feel like a true insider after reading Andy's guidance. He has helped me stay on guard for important issues I had no idea would impact our district. He helps me seem like I'm in the loop and part of a much larger team of advocates working to protect the interests of students and public education. Thank you, Andy for the clear care you put into crafting these important beacons of hope and insight for us TSPRAns! Helen J. Escobar Coordinator of Public Relations Roma Independent School District The caliber of work that Andy has provided over the years has been instrumental in giving TSPRAns up-to-date legislative insight always at the right time and especially when needed. We will truly miss his expertise and his minuteby-minute tracking of relevant education bills. Stephanie De los Santos Director or Marketing & Client Engagement Harris County Department of Education It was truly an honor to work with Andy during my time on the executive committee. His spirit and love for school PR were evident through his every action and he will truly be missed as a part of the TSPRA family. I wish him well! Kristyn Cathey Director of Communications Goose Creek CISD Andy masterfully briefed TSPRAns on everything we needed to know about how public education could be impacted by legislators and the full context of those decisions. We will truly miss his wisdom and wit. Christina Courson Executive Director of Communications & Community Services Lockhart ISD Thank you to Andy for his dedication to keeping membership up to date on legislative matters and news topics. Your expertise has been so valuable and you will be missed. Jenn Marshall-Higgins, CPC Director, Customer & Marketing Services/Technology Foundation ESC Region 12 We can’t thank Andy Welch enough for keeping TSPRAns apprised of crucial issues, legislative debates and concerns that impact Texas public schools. One of the benefits of being a TSPRA member is receiving Andy’s biweekly edition of EduLege Tracker in our inboxes. Staying informed is a critically important part of our job and Andy’s EduLege Tracker kept us primed and educated. From the bottom of my heart, I thank Andy for contributing significantly to our association and to my personal success. Best wishes for a wonderful and long retirement. Veronica Castillon, APR Executive Director of Communications Laredo ISD

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Learning in


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n the Wild!

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Shining Stars!

It was a star-studded evening at this year’s celebration. Congrautulations to all Star Awards winners!


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Each year the TSPRA Professional Awards Committee honors our own members, persons in the media and those that support public education. Thank you to this year’s committee.

Committee Chair: Stephanie Fretwell, Amarillo ISD Committee: Ian Halperin, Wylie ISD; Monica Faulkenbery, APR, Northside ISD; Dayna Owen, Friendswood ISD; Shelby Akin, Pleasant Grove ISD


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Professional Awards PARTNER IN PUBLIC EDUCATION AWARD Gary Hefner, H-E-B in Magnolia Sponsored by Harris County Department of Education GARY HEFNER, general manager at H-E-B, is known as the “Mayor of Magnolia” as he and his family have integrated themselves into the community. After being abandoned by his parents because he developed a serious heart condition at five years old and was flown to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Hefner spent many years living in various homes and enduring countless surgeries. When he was 11, he was adopted by the nurse who helped him when he first arrived at the hospital. Growing up, his school coaches, teachers and administrators became Hefner’s support system. When Hefner married, the one thing he told his wife was, “We will be involved in the schools whether our kids are there or not. I didn’t have that support and I want to be the person that maybe one kid needs and make a difference.” Over the years, Hefner has made significant contributions to his community and has dedicated himself to serving and helping others. He has built a reputation in the Magnolia community for supporting students, administrators and teachers by being involved with the district’s teacher appreciation programs, scholarship programs, student fundraisers and more. “If you are at a school event, you will probably see Gary there, too!” his nominator explained in his application. “As the general manager of [H-E-B], he knows his employees very well and goes above and beyond to help anyone. He has helped several students in tough family situations. He is a selfless, servant leader who believes in making a difference in the lives of our students and the community.”

MEDIA AWARD Wayne Carter, NBC 5 DFW Sponsored by Blackboard WAYNE CARTER, a special projects reporter for NBC 5 DFW, leads an innovative series called “Carter in the Classroom,” which highlights the ways schools around North Texas help students achieve academic success. Arriving in North Texas in 2018, Carter launched "Brag About Your School;” the campaign is an opportunity for students, teachers and parents to showcase the unique things that make their school special. Carter believes strongly in being an advocate for students, parents, and schools. “Carter in the Classroom” shares stories about the successes that are happening in public schools. He focuses on the dynamic learning occurring in schools in North Texas, as well as the challenges districts face and what conversations need to happen in the community to help promote student success. Carter shares the details about the instructional process, mistakes and all, to show how deep learning occurs in our state. Rather than creating moments, Carter concentrates on capturing the process, often spending hours and days at schools for his stories. It is his stories that show his commitment to elevating education discussions in North Texas, going in-depth and behind the scenes to show the power of public education.

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PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Angela Brown, Coppell ISD Sponsored by ParentSquare Before joining Coppell ISD in 2019, Executive Director of Communications and Community Engagement for Coppell ISD ANGELA BROWN worked for almost 20 years in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. She began as a teacher in CFBISD before moving into communications and community engagement. Brown’s nominators said that she “consistently presents at TSPRA conferences, consults with colleagues and is ready to support her fellow school public professionals when called upon to help.” She is also a past recipient of the TSPRA President’s Award in 2014 for spearheading a team of other districts to serve Oklahoma’s Moore ISD when a storm destroyed the town, and the district didn’t have a communications department to handle the crisis. A part of Brown’s “comprehensive Strategic Communications Plan,” is to use innovative technology to build trust and transparency as well as engagement and channels to communicate consistently to all CISD stakeholders. Brown has seen many successes in her career from greatly enhancing community involvement and experience through an interactive magazine and inspiring social media campaigns to an informative podcast, successful Tax Ratification and Bond elections and more. “It is no wonder that thanks to her efforts, CISD Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt was chosen as one of the “2020 Superintendents to Watch” by NSPRA and received the NSPRA 2021 Communication Technology Award for Superintendents,” her nominators lauded. Brown has been a TSPRA member for more than 20 years.


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ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD Ashley Scott, Victoria ISD Sponsored by O’Connell Robertson ASHLEY SCOTT, executive director of communication for Victoria ISD, began in her role in October 2020, becoming the district's first-ever professional in that position. Scott grew up in Victoria, attended VISD schools and the University of Houston-Victoria. For a large portion of her first year, she was a one-woman team, virtually starting a department over from scratch. Throughout the next year-plus, Scott built a newlyimproved, reputable communications department and focused on achieving effective, two-way communication to create engagement and community involvement. “In her first year with VISD, Ashley spearheaded and carried out many new additions to create multiple avenues for communication,” her nominator expressed. “Ashley met with and created strong bonds with [the] local media to share important VISD news to the community. These relationships are still flourishing, with the district even establishing a biweekly column ‘School Matters’ with ‘The Victoria Advocate.’” In addition, during her short time at the district, Scott oversaw a new website and mobile app, increase social media followers and engagement, increase the e-newsletter’s readership and had an additional camera put in the VISD Board room and the ability to live-stream it and watch on a local television channel. Scott has been a TSPRA member since October 2020.

MOST VALUABLE MEMBER AWARD Stephanie De Los Santos, HCDE Sponsored by Scholastic Network

STEPHANIE DE LOS SANTOS is the director of Marketing and Client Engagement division at Harris County Department of Education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media and Spanish and a Master of Education from Houston Baptist University. Before joining HCDE in 2017, she was the director of communication in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and taught in Aldine ISD for nine years. De Los Santos is in her second term on the Executive Committee as vice president at-large position 2. She has served as scholarship chair and supports TSPRA by sponsoring ads for the magazine, conference program and website. She also has HCDE as a vendor at the TSPRA conference and the sponsor of the Partner in Public Education Award. In 2017, she was conference day chair, and, most recently, she was a co-chair for the magazine committee that developed and launched “Communication Matters.” De Los Santos has also served on the Conference Planning, Nominating, Strategic Planning, Decorating, Professional Awards and the Executive Director Evaluation committees. Stephanie has presented at conference numerous times, contributing her expertise to the growth of other TSPRAns. De Los Santos has been a TSPRA member since 2006.

This year’s award recipient is fifth-generation Texan JOE STRAUS, former Texas House Speaker from 2009 to 2019, making him the longest-serving Republican Speaker in state history. During that time, he was a vocal advocate for providing robust funding for public education, and he identified public education as the state’s best economic development tool.

KEY COMMUNICATOR AWARD Texas House Speaker 2009-2019 Chairman of Texas Forever Forward Sponsored by Frontline Education

“As a public-school graduate himself, Mr. Straus worked tirelessly throughout that time to ensure that supportive public-school legislation was at the heart of each legislative session that he chaired. He made himself readily available to his local constituents that included public school educators, administrators and superintendents as they voiced their needs and concerns, and he dedicated his leadership to responsive legislation as a result. His leadership and support for propublic-school legislation is resolute,” said Dr. Dana Bashara, superintendent Alamo Heights ISD, in her letter of support. Some of his key accomplishments that benefit public education include: • • • • •

Calling on the legislature to make school finance system more efficient; Standing firm against privatization of Texas public education and voucher; Leading the passage of HB 5 in 2013, which established the new Foundation High School Program; Calling on Texas Education Agency to make significant changes in the monitoring system it was using to determine qualifications for special education services; Leading the charge in 2017 to defeat SB 6, the “bathroom bill,” which would have required transgender bathroom use.

Superintendent Brian T. Woods, Ed.D, Northside ISD, said in his letter of support, “Though Speaker Straus retired from the legislature in 2019, he has consistently stayed active in education policy by working with and supporting lawmakers who are pro-public education.” In his unwavering support of public education, during the 87th legislative session, Straus called on state leaders to release $18 billion in federal stimulus funds to schools across the state. Today, Straus is the chairman of the Texas Forever Forward political action committee and continues his public service endeavors through his dedication to various boards, community and state organizations. Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org



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Linsae’s Legacy When she came to TSPRA, she was expected to extend and grow TSPRA’s legacy of excellence. In her time as our executive director, she has created a legacy of her own, lifting the organization to new levels of excellence with her extraordinary work ethic and love for public schools and those who promote and support them. “I can’t remember when I met Linsae. She’s just been a constant part of my TSPRA experience. Whether it was sitting together at a Roundtable or going to a TSPRA event, I have always gained from knowing Linsae. Her enthusiasm, creativity and willingness to lead the way through hard work and determination are just a few of the reasons I admire her and enjoy her company. Linsae has shared herself with TSPRA, and TSPRA has come out the winner.”

— Candace Ahlfinger, Retired School PR Professional,TSPRA Past President, 2005-2006

You know her simply as Linsae, but there is nothing simple about our amazing executive director. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Lindsae on so many levels, including as a past president. She doesn’t just want TSPRA to be successful; she wants every member to be successful. She has the same enthusiasm for a veteran member when they get a promotion as she does when a rookie wins a Star Award. TSPRA is made up of many personalities and she has worked hard to help everyone find their place in our great organization. Whenever a colleague would ask me for my thoughts about serving in a leadership position, I would always give them the same advice: ‘Trust Linsae.’” — Ian Halperin, Director of Community Relations & Marketing, Wylie ISD, TSPRA Past President, 2016-2017

With more than 29 years of service in public education as a teacher, program coordinator and school district administrator, Snider came to TSPRA with a wealth of experience to TSPRA’s leadership position where she managed the day-today operations in the state office in Austin. “I have never enjoyed being mentored by someone as much as I have enjoyed learning from Linsae! Her direct focused and committed energy to do what is best for the organization is what I love most about her and her leadership style. I have modeled so much of my leadership after Linsae’s and I will forever be grateful that she mentored me through several transitions.” — Veronica V. Sopher, Chief Communications Officer, Fort Bend ISD, TSPRA Past President, 2021-2022

Linsae Snider has served as our executive director for 12 years. During her tenure, she has seen the membership grow from 825 in July 2010 to near capacity due to her networking skills, constant communication and transparency with the general membership. She has put the association on a strong financial footing due to her tenacity in budget development, seeking ways to save money while simultaneously raising money through sponsorships levied on her talent for building relationships and encouraging support of public education. Over time, Linsae has been likened to the energizer bunny, keeping TSPRA running like clockwork. Her running heels will be hard to fill. For all that she has done for our school public relations organization of choice, THE Texas School Public Relations Association, we are truly grateful. (continued on Pg. 34) Winter 2021 | www.TSPRA.org


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“When I first met Linsae, her genuine smile and warmth were the first things I noticed, and her seemingly endless energy and positivity quickly shined through, too. It has been a blessing to get to know her over the years personally and professionally, and I am honored to share a birthday with her. I will be forever grateful that she saw leadership qualities in me and encouraged me to serve within TSPRA. She has a special talent for seeing qualities in and encouraging others, and then she helps them grow professionally into that vision”

— Kristin Zastoupil, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications, Forney ISD TSPRA Past President, 2018-2019

Linsae, The Early Years Snider began her career as a teacher in Goose Creek CISD, Baytown, Texas, serving that district for five years. For the next 20 years, she worked for the Region 17 Education Service Center (ESC) in Lubbock, Texas, holding positions as coordinator of media, school health specialist, coordinator of instructional resources, drug-free schools specialist, and coordinator of professional development. At the ESC she gained experience developing, directing and evaluating new and existing events, programs and projects at the local, state and national levels. “I met Linsae when she was involved in professional development through another organization. Her passion and hard work were evident from the beginning. What I always admired about Linsae was she was a learner and wanted to help others to be successful. Her impact across educational organizations is admirable.” — Diana Ely, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, Northside ISD/San Antonio

In 2005, Snider moved from the ESC into an administrative position at Frenship ISD, serving first as director of public information and professional development. As the district’s spokesperson, she coordinated all media coverage while chairing and serving on several district and community committees. “I think one of the reasons that Linsae resonated so much with me is because she came from our ranks and understood what we do and go through every day. I learned a lot from Linsae over the years, and I will miss her insight and leadership in the organization. She has taken a great organization and made it even greater. One that other chapters want to emulate.”

— Monica Faulkenbery, APR, Assistant Director of Communications, Northside ISD, TSPRA Past President, 2019-2020

She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a mid-management certification at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. (Wreck’Em!) “My time with Linsae has always been like two sisters, both former Home Ec teachers, both Tech Alum and both from the Panhandle. We just think alike and loved working together.” — Denise Blanchard, Director, Community Partnerships, Amarillo ISD

As the executive director of the Texas School Public Relations Association, Linsae has been recognized for her leadership at the largest state organization dedicated to promoting public schools through effective communications.


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“Linsae and I both share an excitement for food. She introduced me to Austin food trucks, Franklin Barbecue and Torchy’s Tacos. And, she makes the best snack mix for executive committee meetings! Our breaks at conferences have definitely been a foodie paradise. I mean, who could ever forget the Bacon Bar at Lost Pines Resort? Beyond the snacks and great eats, Linsae has the recipe for success for building the organization’s finances. We are beyond strong, thanks to her dedication and perseverance in building, sustaining and increasing our solvency. She has embraced inclusivity and valued the contributions of every member and skill set, talent and experience. I sure hope she shows up at TSPRA conferences in the coming years as a retiree!”

— Melissa Tortorici, Director of Communications, Texas City ISD, TSPRA Past President, 2017-2018

Linsae’s enthusiasm and energy, combined with her knowledge and administrative abilities, have built on TSPRA’s strengths and taken the association to the next level of improving and striving for excellence in communications for our public schools. Ever the advocate, Linsae shares, “Public education is the most important asset our state can offer to its citizens and promoting public education in Texas is a passion,” said Snider. “I am honored to have served as the executive director for TSPRA. I have enjoyed carrying out our mission and exploring new ways to improve communications between Texans and our public schools. That mission has never been more important than it is today. We must promote a positive climate for the continued academic success of the students in Texas.” “Linsae, we love you. You are a true TSPRA treasure and legend. You will be dearly missed. Know that you have a friend in every corner of this great state, and the love and respect that exceeds its borders. We wish you every happiness in your retirement.”

— Patti Pawlik-Perales, Director of Communications & Foundation, Beeville ISD, TSPRA Past President, 2013-2014

We wish her every success and much happiness as she moves on to the next chapter, retiring from her role this June 2022.

Peace, Love & School PR, Linsae! Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org



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A Farewell Message from Executive Director Linsae Snider

The end of each school year is always a time for celebration – and then an opportunity to take a deep breath and reflect on how we made it through another year – and to cherish those no-work Fridays! As I wind down the completion of my tenure as your executive director, the same sentiments are darting through my brain. On June 30th, I will celebrate 43 years of proudly serving Texas public education; the best of those years has been the 12 spent at TSPRA. Every single year, there has been an executive committee with a bigger vision than the year before, and every single year, I have been entrusted with the enormous opportunity to manage the work and the audacious challenge of moving TSPRA a notch closer to greatness. Thank you for the best job ever! Helping people and getting things done has always been a personal motto. In so many ways, it feels like I am abandoning friends and carelessly disregarding the work. A trusted friend told me that you will know when it is time. I believe it is time for the next person to move TSPRA to elevated heights. I have done my work and the relationships built doing it are the pinnacle of my time with you. I remain in awe of how you honored me at TSPRA’s 60th conference. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the accolades and gifts. Please know how much each of you means to me. I appreciate your friendship, trust, professionalism and support. It has been such a fun ride! And like the no-work Fridays - for the first time since 18 years of age, I will be embarking on EVERY day as a no-work day! My wish is that each of you reaches this acclaimed milestone in your career.

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PROM A Blast from the Past

Turn back the hands of time with these classic prom pics from fellow TSPRAns.

Andy Welch, TSPRA EduLege San Benito High School San Benito, TX 1968

Lou Ann Rockwell, ESC Region 11 Weatherford High School Weatherford, TX 1986 38

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Sally Peschka Andrews, Vidor ISD Vidor High School Vidor, TX 1976

Chris Mycoskie, Community ISD Lamar High School Arlington, TX 1997

Christina Courson Munich American High School Munich, Germany 1991

Whitney Magness, Navarro ISD Pottsboro High School Pottsboro, TX 2011

Debbie Bridgeman, Beaumont ISD Westwood High School Austin, TX 1987

Traci Marlin, Midway ISD Lewisville High School Lewisville, TX 1998

Kristen Cobb, Spring ISD Southfield High School Southfield, MI 2005

Jennifer Marshall-Higgins, ESC Region 12 West High School West, Texas 1993

Matthew Prosser, Longview ISD Overton High School Overton, TX 1995

Rebecca King, Rockdale ISD Rockdale High School Rockdale, TX 1993

Jess Croshaw, Northwest ISD Belleville East High School Belleville, IL 1998

Tracie Seed, Harmony Public Schools - Austin Lubbock High School Lubbock, TX 1987

Veronica Sopher, Fort Bend ISD High School for Law Enforecement & Criminal Justice Houston, TX 39 1991 Winter 2021 | www.TSPRA.org

Dear Me,

What advice would you give yourself as a high-school senior?

Linsae Snider, TSPRA Dimmitt High School Dimmitt, TX 1975

I would like to share some advice my mom gave me when I left for college: “Always keep in touch with your high school friends. The friends you make in college will be your forever friends.” She was right!

Voted “Nicest Girl” Debbie Bridgeman, Beaumont ISD Westwood High School Austin, TX 1987

Having a rewarding career is amazing, but don't forget to take the time to serve others and volunteer in your community.

Tracie Seed, Harmony Public Schools - Central Texas Lubbock High School Lubbock, TX 1987

Chill out. Have more fun! Stop being so serious and worrying so much. Oh, by the way, Mom was right about everything. P.S. Never, ever take another photograph with back lighting!

Susan Ard, Cleveland ISD Cleveland High School Cleveland Texas May 1982

I would say, "Susan, you do not have to decide or make any decisions about what your life story is going to be today. At age 18. May of 1982. Take time to figure out what you are interested in, where you want to go from here, and mostly, find out who you are before you make any decisions about anything. Because it will affect you for the rest of your life.” Lou Ann Rockwell, ESC Region 11 Weatherford High School Weatherford, TX 1986

Enjoy your last year in high school!

Anissa Faris, Hillsboro ISD Hillsboro, TX 1987

If I were to give advice to my younger self, it would be three things; 1. Not to stress so much about the things that I cannot change. Be strong, you got this!!! 2. That you may not always end up where you thought you were going to, but you will end up where you are supposed to be! 3. Everything happens for a reason. Have faith! Matthew Prosser, Longview ISD Overton High School Overton, TX 1995

I would tell him to prioritize developing a variety of different professional skills and experiences but to always invest the most of his time and energy into building relationships. Cultivating strong connections with people along the way can provide so many avenues for enrichment as well as advancement. After all, it worked out great for me! Whitney Magness, Navarro ISD Pottsboro High School Pottsboro, TX 2011

If I could advise myself as a graduating senior, it would be to have more faith in myself. Looking back, I was scared to put myself out there because I was afraid of failing or not knowing the answer. Now, I accept that I don't know something and use every opportunity to grow in my skills and have new experiences. It wasn't until college that I learned to let go and embrace the unknown.

An Event to Remember Making Building Dedications Special

By Ian M. Halperin Executive Director of Community Relations and Marketing Wylie ISD

Naming a school is one of the highest honors a district can bestow on someone. Planning a special event worthy of this honor doesn’t have to be stressful. Over my career, I’ve helped dedicate nearly a dozen facilities, and here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.


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Create a timeline and “to-do list” of major (and some minor) duties for the event. Start with the event date and work backward. Be sure to include people and departments that play a part. This will help make sure everyone stays on track.

Assign someone to be the liaison with the namesake or their family. This will help ensure everyone knows what to expect at the event. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event so encourage them to submit names of family and friends for invitations.

Keep a VIP invitation list ready to go. Your superintendent will thank you. For our events, we list them by category (District VIP, City/Community VIP, Elected Officials, Past Board Members, etc.) and invite those groups that best fit the event. This saves time and creates consistency.

Don’t forget to notify facilities and maintenance. If the event is after hours or on the weekend, be sure HVAC is scheduled. Even new buildings get dirty. Ask for extra custodians to clean the common areas and restrooms before and after the ceremony. Leave the school clean!

Include students. If the campus has a Boy or Girl Scout troop, invite them to lead the pledge. J-ROTC units are great for presenting the Colors. Have the choir sing the school song. Student Council and National Honor Society members make great greeters and tour guides.

Keep the program short and sweet. Each person speaking should have prepared remarks. The board president can thank the community, talk about the building and give fun facts about it. The superintendent can talk about the namesake.

If your budget allows it*, consider a memento of the event. Keychains with the school logo/ mascot are nice. Paperweights are as well. Instead of a printed program, consider a souvenir ticket.

*Reach out to your architect and/or construction company for a donation to help offset the cost of these items. They should be happy to help show off the project. Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Gimmick Days by Elizabeth Ross Community Relations Multimedia Director Longview ISD


s communicators, we often get bogged down in content, content schedules, tracking, deciding what’s engaging and what is not, basically going 90 to nothing with all our gear in tow. But what can you create when you stop and smell the roses of your incredible district? Great content starts with great planning. Looking ahead so that others can revel in the moment is what we do as communicators. What do we do at Longview ISD? We plan, plan, plan and then execute until we tell the story. Another key to great content is the relationships you build with administrators, teachers, students and their families. Having an ally in your planning will ultimately lead to heartwarming, tear-jerking moments that families will cherish. We all have our standard district hashtags for Twitter, “the GRAM” and TikTok, but what happens when we use hashtags to celebrate and step out of the norm?

Longview ISD Hashtag Gimmick Days

#MotivationMonday - Usually done in the morning to kick off the week. We try to use images of students working hard. #MarvelousMontessoriMonday - We highlight various Montessori classes throughout the district with a photo or video from the selected class #TechnologyTuesday - Fun technology initiatives from our ITS team or the classroom. #WednesdayWisdom - We like to work with teachers, students and administrators for this. We will gather “wisdom” from new teachers, teachers of 20+ years and students. The younger the student, the more adorable the wisdom is. This is also great for random facts. #ThankATeacher & #ThankfulThursday - This is one of our most popular days! We work with campus principals to highlight teachers who make a difference in and out of the classroom. We get a quote from them and have a standard #ThankATeacher graphic we use. #TBT - This is probably one of the most used hashtags out there. Get old yearbooks and scan them or take photos of their yearbook spreads and post. Ask alums to share a memory. #FridayFeels - This is anything cute or heartwarming


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Random Gimmick Days

#TacoTuesday or #NationalTacoDay – Highlight cafeteria workers with TACOS. #NationalLegoDay – Showcase CTE Robotics or campus Lego competitions. #NationalReadABookDay – Create a video about your librarians’ favorite books in the library. #DrSuessDay – Photos of kiddos dressed up or video of students reading from their favorite Dr. Suess book or a principal reading their fav Dr. Suess book. #NationalDonutDay – Take fun boomerang videos of teachers being silly with donuts. #NationalCookieDay – Surprise the class with the most improvement on benchmarks with cookies and go live on Facebook.

Content ideas for April

Math Awareness Month - Work with math teachers to highlight what they are doing in the classroom to help with math or videos of students who have been struggling with math and what has helped them. Poetry Month - Use videos showcasing young authors. Work with teachers and librarians to read their favorite poems; this is a fantastic way to highlight librarians and English teachers! National Autism Month - Highlight co-teach classrooms and create Autism facts to help others understand what these students face. Do you have some success stories with kids on the spectrum? Set up Q & A sessions with them and their co-teacher and do profiles on them. National Volunteer Month - This is a great time to pay tribute to PTA/PTOs and encourage more engagement from families. You can do personal profiles or set up video shorts asking them why they volunteer. April 18-22 is Volunteer Recognition Week. Hiring - March and April kick-off hiring for districts. Start a #whyILove_______ short videos with staff saying what they love about the district. #Classof_____ - This is the time to start highlighting seniors. Create senior social media profiles highlighting students that have overcome obstacles, try a social media takeover with the senior class president, start gathering photos for senior superlatives to post in May, send communication to parents asking for #SeniorMemories and ask them to add a message to their senior.

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Random Acts of Kindness - This can be a monthly or weekly “gotcha” moment with campuses. Create a Google form to nominate students and staff. Surprise them with a certificate of appreciation you create in-house. Apr. 3-9: National Library Week - Use videos of librarians reading an excerpt from their favorite book and explaining why they love that book. Apr. 4-8: National Assistant Principals Week - Celebrate assistant principals by asking them who were their role models growing up.

humanize and show the softer side of district staff. Mental Health Awareness Month - Interview counselors on self-care tips and how to combat unhealthy mental health practices. Work with PE teachers or stream a yoga session to show physical ways to relieve stress that surround finals and end-of-year testing. May 1: School Principals Day - Try a “guess who” contest for school principals by posting photos of them in their youth.

Apr. 4: School Librarian Appreciation Day - Celebrate them with a photo and a “Top 5 List” of their favorite books growing up.

May 1-7: National Physical Education Week - celebrate those PE teachers with video shorts of students thanking them for keeping them healthy. Ask PE teachers to give you their top five tips for staying healthy and post with their photos.

Apr. 6: National Paraprofessional Appreciation Day What does the day in a paraprofessional look like? This is a great opportunity for a “day in the life.”

May 2-6: National Music Week - Show videos with choir directors singing the school song or their favorite song growing up.

Apr. 22: Earth Day - How do your campuses celebrate Earth Day? This is great content for science teachers to demo what students can do to protect Earth.

May 2-6: National Teacher Appreciation Week - Ask families to send in sweet moments from the past year and a photo of their student and the student’s teacher to highlight. This will also allow families to celebrate their student’s teacher with a sweet message.

Apr. 27: Administrative Professionals Day - Districts can make this a fun day for students by celebrating school administrative assitants who keep the campus running. Have students write thank you notes or draw pictures and suprise the admin staff. Or have staff members visit classes for the kids to read their thanks outloud. These are both great times for photos and videos!

Content ideas for May

#Classof_____ - Create senior social media profiles highlighting students that have overcome obstacles, try a social media takeover with the Valedictorian and/or Salutatorian, post senior superlatives, post #SeniorMemories, ask principals for one of their senior photos for a #FridayFeels post. May 2 GenTX - GenTX is a way to highlight where students are headed for their next steps. Create some social media frames with college and trade school logos and post them with the students' photos. Asian–Pacific American Heritage Month - Showcase historical perspectives and ask campuses if there will be projects you can highlight. National Pet Month - Ask teachers, administrators and other staff to send in photos with their pets. This will


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May 4: Teacher Appreciation Day - If you have your teachers of the year selected, do profiles on them. May 6: School Lunch Hero Day - Work with the student council or ambassadors to do something nice for cafeteria workers on campuses and go on Facebook Live when they surprise them. May 11: National School Nurse Day - District health teams have had a rough couple of years! Work with organizations on campuses to create “thank you” cards for your campus nurses and get video/photos of these organizations presenting them. May 13: School Communicators Day - Post your team and what they do! On many occasions, people don’t know the “photo lady” or the “video guy,” but this will allow them to get to know you as someone who helps share their story.

Taming the Roar by Rachel Acosta Community Relations Coordinator Leander ISD


t’s a jungle out there! Nowadays, it seems the uncertainty of situations around us has caused emotions to get the best of people. Fear that drives these emotions can be misplaced in a way where we may become the target. So how do we tame the roar and help re-engage the partnership and trust we once had with a friend, colleague or community member?

The first step to deescalating conversations is listening to understand. This can be tough when we’re being yelled at as our first instinct is to get defensive. But trying to reason with a person right away sounds argumentative to someone who is emotional. Sometimes people want help fixing things; sometimes they just want to feel heard. Earnest listening can help us determine if the person is looking for advice, for us to fix something or to just hear them out. We all get frustrated about different things: running late, someone cutting us off in traffic, too much noise when we’re trying to concentrate, etc. When helping a child learn to self-regulate, I often use the phrase, “it’s time to find our calm.” Sometimes this comes with hugs, sometimes it comes by giving them some space alone until they can find their calm, and then they can join back in with the group in their own time. Apart from having more responsibilities and a little more self-control, we really aren’t so different from children. Our feelings can feel very big depending on the circumstances, and when those circumstances are because our children are involved, we can get frustrated very quickly. Recognizing that emotion and that our amazing parents really want the best for their kids can help us take a pause and extend empathy. Although a person may express their feelings in an uncouth way, their feelings are valid. Saying something like, “I can understand how you might feel that way” or “your feelings about this are important to me” takes the edge off the conversation and recognizes their feelings. Responding with this kind of empathy is the next step to de-escalating conversations. Also, it’s important to remember we don’t have to have an immediate answer. Listening, being mindful of what someone is saying, and letting them know that we need to think about what they said is often well-respected. Taking the breathing space needed will help us get past the initial feelings that come from a hostile conversation and will let our rational minds consider the root and truth of the conversation. Following up on the subject with them is critical as this will not only work toward resolving the issue and getting on the same page but it will also create a platform for trust to be rebuilt. Remember our first jobs in retail or food service where we heard the phrase, “The customer is always right”? Well, in school PR, this is not always true. We are required to follow the guidelines provided to us through legislature, governing bodies and sometimes health officials, and we may find ourselves in situations when we must kindly say “no” to someone. Disagreeing with someone takes a lot of tact. Utilizing our skills in listening, asking questions and considering their point of view before we respond can preserve those relationships. We will never go wrong if we stick to policy; however, how we say something can be just as valuable as the message we are sharing, especially if we are delivering the bad news that they are not correct. Together, we can work to build trust with our communities. One of the things I love about TSPRA is having this community of school PR pros who love to learn and grow, share best practices and be fabulous thought partners. If we encourage one another, pursue our mission to support and celebrate our students, and insert joy with everyone we encounter, our world will find its calm and we will tame the roar.

Turn Your Press Release into the Ultimate Multitool by John Boyd Chief Communications & Marketing Officer Harmony Public Schools

I’m a person who loves doohickeys. Peek in my garage or kitchen and you’ll find an array of tools and gadgets waiting for the right task. I bought each with a project in mind (and some of those projects actually get done eventually). But as anyone who has ever used a spatula for an ice scraper or a butter knife for a screwdriver will tell you, the functionality of any tool isn’t revealed by what you bought it for – it’s in how you use it. In this sense, the press release is the ultimate PR doohickey. We assume it’s only good for one thing – earning media coverage – but in truth, a well-written press release can do so much more. That’s because now more than ever, newsrooms are turning to news releases as a primary source of quick, easy-toproduce content that can help them make the most of their shrinking staff and the never-ending need for more material. Even the once-frowned-upon practice of running or reciting releases verbatim is now commonplace. That makes the press release the perfect doohickey for all the goals I want to accomplish as a school communications professional. I start every press release with at least four goals in mind. Earn media coverage … obviously. Besides getting good news into the public eye, it’s also good for school spirit to see our efforts recognized in the media. Share our school system’s full story with the media … not just the story that is the main topic of my press release. This leads to more robust, better-informed coverage in the long term. Control the public message. When well-written, a press release can dictate not only the broad themes of the message that get reported but even the exact wording by which reporters will do so. 48

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Improve our digital footprint. Local news websites can extend the reach of a message, while also boosting a school’s SEO value and bringing in more external traffic. Check out some of the tricks and tactics I’ve used to turn my plain old press release into the perfect multitool for these tasks and more. Target the Right Reporters Press releases aren’t for every reporter or every story. They are best for stories announcing breaking news, live coverage opportunities and other news journalists can report in a day or less. This makes them ideal for breaking news, weekend and general assignment reporters, as well as digital/social media producers. If your story opportunity involves something more in-depth, a more personal pitch is the better way to go. Gather Your Quotables If a journalist bites on your press release, you need to be ready to connect them with the sources they’ll need to report on your story quickly. Figure out who in your school a reporter might need to talk to, then let those people know in advance that you may need their help. This is also a great time to assess their comfort speaking with the media and provide coaching. Finally, find out when is most convenient for them to speak with reporters and consider timing your press release accordingly. Do Your Own Reporting First A reporter can sense when a story will be easy or difficult to turn around. The easier you make things on the reporter, the more likely receptive they will be. Try to get your press release as close to publication-ready as possible by doing your reporting first. In addition to tracking down sources, gather any photos, B-Roll video, graphics or other resources a reporter might need to fully report your story. Master Your Email Subject Line Reporters get thousands of emails per day, so make sure your press release is direct and contains key phrases, such as your school’s name and the subject of your story. Bonus points if these key phrases also match common Google search terms for your school, as many reporters will use your subject line for the headline of their online story.

Send It When They Are Looking For Stories Send your press release when most journalists are looking for daily story ideas. For most newsrooms, that’s between 5-6 a.m. when TV stations are looking for fresh material for the morning newscasts and print reporters are doing their first scan of overnight happenings. If something happens at your school outside of this window, consider waiting to send the press release until the next morning. For weekend events, send an initial release on Wednesday or Thursday to get it on the newsroom radar, then follow up with a reminder early the morning of the event. Avoid Busy News Moments No matter how important your story is, it can get bumped or missed completely if something bigger is happening. Pay attention to the news happening both in your community and around the country. Delay sending your press release if a major story is breaking. Written With Web Publication In Mind If a press release is well-written, many outlets will copypaste it directly to their website even if they intend to do further reporting later. At a minimum, your text should be written in AP Style, in inverted pyramid format and free from spelling or grammatical errors. However, you can maximize your copy-paste returns by also stuffing it with SEO keywords and links that will draw more attention to the article on the news site and eventually lead visitors back to different sections of your site. Call or Text Nothing I’ve ever done has ever led to a greater increase in reporter response rate to my press releases than including explicit permission to text message me if reporters prefer. Journalists are busy people and communicating by text message allows them to multitask better by keeping the conversation going at the pace they prefer. (Note: Just as a reporter will presume any spoken or written message is on-the-record, they also will assume any info given in a text message is on-the-record. Use text messaging to coordinate coverage, give straightforward answers to basic questions or share previously prepared quotes.) Write for the Ear, Not the Brain Behind It A common mistake writers of all kinds make is trying too hard to sound smart. They want to impress their audience with big words, fancy phrases and sentences that run on for days. As a result, though, their writing becomes bloated and impossible to read. Simplify. Use short sentences and strong verbs. If you can read your text out loud without getting tongue-tied, there’s a good chance a TV reporter might do the same to save themselves from having to write something original.

Different Versions for Different Reporters Most newsrooms no longer have education reporters, so your media outreach needs to target a variety of other potential beats. When possible, try sending multiple versions of your press releases to different reporters tailored to their beats, interests or geographic coverage areas. Usually, all it takes is a slight change to the subject line or first couple of sentences to make a story idea more applicable to a reporter’s unique beat. Sí, Hablo Español Much like your school’s Spanish-speaking families, your Spanish-language reporters don’t want to feel forgotten just because their primary reporting language may not be English. If possible, prepare and send a second version of your press release specifically for Spanish-language media. This shows that you recognize that they and their audience are important parts of your school community. Add a ‘Widget’ Considering the frequency with which reporters come and go from newsrooms these days, constantly re-establishing your brand identity is critical for even the most well-known organizations. So, is there something important about your school that reporters don’t know, don’t understand, misreport or underreport? Try adding an infobox or other “widget” to your press release to help tell your school’s full story and slowly build higher-level knowledge of your brand within your local newsrooms. Even if your story doesn’t get covered, at least your local news reporter has learned something new about your school that could pay off further down the road. Simplify Complex Topics with Charts If your press release is getting overwhelmed with numbers or other in-the-weeds details, consider including a chart or graphic to explain it all. Not only do charts help bring simplicity to otherwise confusing topics, but they also give newsrooms another visual option to include with their story. Double ‘About Us’ Section Chances are, the bottom of your press release is a section called something like “About Us.” Below is usually a treasure chest of search engine gold: key SEO phrases, backlinks to your website, biographical information, social media links, etc. Unfortunately, most newsrooms clip this part off when posting your press release to their website. A sneaky way to force it back in is to add a rewritten version of this paragraph right before your “About Us” section, masking it as part of the press release. Most likely, the web producer or reporter scanning your copy will assume the good stuff ends where “About Us” begins and leave in all that great SEO stuff right before it.

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Communication professionals share five things they plan to do this summer to refresh both personally and professionally. JUSTIN DEARING

Director of Communications Grapevine-Colleyville ISD

Retreat to the woods I have learned over the past few years that my happy place is outside. Each summer, as a family, we “run to the woods” in Broken Bow or Durango to turn our phones off, turn our vacation playlist up and be still. Read all the books After my wife convinced me that I am a “reader,” I have been more motivated to dive into books that help me grow both professionally and personally. Being a part of the #SchoolPRBookClub also encourages this habit as we meet virtually every two weeks to discuss what we have learned from our current selection. Reunite with #SchoolPR friends After our family vacation each year, I shift my focus to the annual NSPRA conference, where I get to hang out with some of the best people in the country. With all the events of the past few years, it has been a long time since I have been able to attend the conference face-to-face and recharge my batteries in such a supportive environment. Reflect and plan Before teachers return, I like to take a day out 50

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of the office to spend time setting professional and personal goals for the upcoming school year. New Year’s resolutions are great, but we all know that our new year starts in August. I feel that this year my primary focus will emphasize self-care and improved mental health, personally and professionally. Rest in the pockets During the summer months, I can always find a reason to set up the hammock, turn on some music and take a random afternoon nap. We all know we never stop working during the school year. Those little pockets of time (even during your lunch hour) that we can find some time to rest are crucial to making it through yet another year in school PR.


Communications Specialist, PIO Floresville ISD

Be kind to my future self What’s funny about this is that being kind to my future self involves getting a bunch of work done. I’ll work on my content calendar for the year and create and link the collateral I know I’ll need during the year. It makes me feel ahead of the game during the year. Celebrate what went well during the year. I think this is something leaders don’t do enough.

We take a ton of time reflecting on what we could have done better and that’s a good thing, but acknowledging the wins keeps you in the game. Set goals and share them with others After celebrating the great things, I’ll do the aforementioned reflection and set some new goals. Some will be small and easily “winnable” but there will be one or two big ones, too. It will keep me learning and looking forward. I’ll make sure to share my goals with an accountability partner so they can be my cheerleader or a needed thorn in my side. Read a book I’ll actually read a ton of books. Some of them will make me better at my job and give me a new perspective, but some of them will just be fun. Reading is good all the time and resets my brain. Take a real break The idea that as communications professionals we are never “off” is all too often an expectation we put on ourselves. It’s important to really stop working for a few days to rest and refocus. I will do that by disconnecting and spending time with family and friends and puttering around messing with my flowers.


Coordinator of Public Relations Roma ISD

Professionally, I love to go back and look at all the ideas I stole from fellow TSPRAns across the state. I follow several school districts and TSPRAns throughout the school year, and I love to screenshot great ideas. I’ll go back through my phone, review those ideas and see what I can implement with a twist at my own district. Remember caring is sharing! I also love to reflect on the implementation of

ideas that went right in my district. Let’s face it, not everything we do gets the results we hope for. Sometimes, though, we hit it out of the park. I like to remember those not just good, but great times when we got some really wonderful or unexpected feedback. One of the ways I refresh personally is focusing on my home during the summer. As we go through the school year, there are so many projects I push off because of school deadlines or events. Summertime allows me to get at least one or two major items off my checklist to give me a feeling of accomplishment as I head into the forest of the unexpected in the new school year. I also love to splurge watching any show or movie, old or new. I find lots of media provide inspiration for the work I do, even in small ways. I may remember a song I forgot about but would be great to use for a video. I may see something cool in a documentary that sparks my imagination. I may remember a show from the past with a fun theme that could be used for an event. You just never know where your creativity can take you. Although I’m supposed to just refresh at this time, I don’t lose sight of my work and find a way to keep my future stress level low. Even on days off, I always check my email and answer text questions. Some people do NOT agree with this strategy. However, I personally find that there are many small issues that can be resolved quickly, or student recognitions you can quickly take care of by carving out 10 to 20 minutes a day during time off to get these tasks accomplished. I don’t let my inbox grow beyond a certain point, which takes care of my regular daily stress level. I think it’s important to do yourself this favor so you really can come back in after a long break and not be bogged down. (continued on Pg. 52) Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


continued from Page 59

MEGAN OVERMAN, APR, CPC Senior Communications Officer Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD

De-clutter! Summer is a great time to spend a few days cleaning out the old, digitizing and organizing what you need to keep and starting fresh in the new school year. This not only clears out the physical workspace; it clears the headspace from those feelings of being overwhelmed and provides clarity and room for creativity. Make time for strategic planning If you’re familiar with the RPIE Communications Planning Model, you recognize that the last two years plunged us head-first into Implementation mode as we all rolled up our sleeves and focused on getting the time-sensitive work done. It’s time to step back and Evaluate where we are now, and then spend some time refocusing on our “why” through Research and Planning. Attend NSPRA! There’s no better place to revive your “why” during the summer than at the annual NSPRA Conference! It’s three days of learning, collaborating, connecting, commiserating and recharging with people from all over the country who know first-hand what you do and what you deal with on a daily basis. That’s a solid support network! Visit my happy place A change of scenery is a great way to help refresh your perspective. The lake is where I can go to disconnect from the daily demands of life to refocus my priorities and recharge my soul. A bit of Mom’s home cooking doesn’t hurt, either. Allow myself to enjoy more moments We are busy people! There is always more to do and it’s easy to forget that it’s the little moments of sweetness and joy that truly make life grand. I am going to be more intentional in soaking up as many of those moments as I can. Whether it’s having a conversation with a kindergartener about Spiderman or being a proud mom watching my son in drumline, these are the little moments that can calm the chaos of life. 52

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Central Texas Distric Director of Communications & Marketing Harmony Public Schools - Central Texas Get organized Even though I use my iPhone’s calendar daily, I still prefer an old-school daily planner. I’m very visual, so I like to be able to see a whole month or week at a glance. Plus, I’m able to quickly jot down todos and prioritize my day. So, I’ll be organizing a new July 2022-June 2023 planner. Deepen my skills I really want to hone my Illustrator and iMovie skills. While I have a working-knowledge of both programs, I would like to expand my skills. I love watching YouTube how-to videos and putting what I learn into practice. Prepare for the school year The 2022-2023 school year will be my first full academic calendar working as a school communications professional. Although I am very confident in my abilities, I want to take time to dive deeper into increasing my knowledge, finding inspiration and planning for the year. Float My sister-in-law and I enjoy spending time together floating the rivers around the area. (Sometimes we will bring a young-adult kid along with us too.) It is so calming to just lie back and enjoy the ride, all the while chatting, catching up and deepening our relationship. Visit friends and family Although I was born and raised in Texas (Amarillo, Sherman and Lubbock), my East Coast husband (whom I met in Colorado) and I moved to Rhode Island for him to work in his family business. We lived there more than 23 years before I finally got him to Texas. Each summer, we like to visit our friends and family there and relax as many days as possible on the beach!

Want to share your top five? Email info@tspra.org.

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS Detrick Adkism, Lancaster ISD Mike Alzamora, Arp ISD Kristen Bily, Flour Bluff ISD PJ Cabrera, North East ISD Sonia Quirino Canales, San Antonio ISD Adriana Candelaria, Anthony ISD Belen Casillas, Chapel Hill ISD Valerie Coffman, El Campo ISD Karlee Custer, Santa Fe ISD Abby Doring, Van ISD Courtney Dunning, Denton ISD Olivia Evans, Austin Achieve Public Schools Lester Gretsch, Spring ISD Deanna Jackson, Schertz-Cibollo-Universal City ISD Brittany James, Frenship ISD Christy Johnson, Region 9 ESC Anna Koenig, Lovejoy ISD Victoria Krawczynski, Comal ISD Tessie Ledesma, Robstown ISD Todd Marshall, Texarkana ISD Deanna Martinez, Gonzales ISD Gracie Martinez, Stafford MSD Joe Eric Mendiola, Lyford CISD Noelle Newton, Hutto ISD Courtnie Nix, Crandall ISD Eloy Pacheco, Austin Achieve Public Schools Mark Pinon, Lyford CISD Julie Posey, ESC Region 12 Alex Radow, Angleton ISD Clifford Reed, Duncanville ISD Jamal Robinson, Lamar CISD Delaney Sanders, Lewisville ISD Paige Stewart, Duncanville ISD Anne Lasseigne Tiedt, Raise Your Hand Texas Mike Tobias, Port Neches-Groves ISD Jon Wallin, Temple ISD Chris White, Bastrop ISD Zoe Zamora, Spring Branch ISD as of 4/01/22

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EXHIBITORS Alboum & Associates Alboum provides translation and interpretation services to districts in Texas and nationwide and is an approved vendor on Buyboard, Choice Partners, TIPS, and Allied States. alboum.com Hillary Berman hillary@alboum.com 571-765-3060 Alumni Nations We expertly help organizations find and connect K12 alumni, alumni-parents and the greater community through our software and services, so clients can achieve a margin of excellence attained with community support. alumninations.com Deb Ingrassia deb.ingrassia@alumninations.com 920-397-7129

Thank you to this year’s exhibitors for supporting #TSPRA2022.

Apptegy Apptegy makes it easy for administrators and educators to reach parents, students, staff and communities. With our tools you can communicate better and change how your public thinks and feels about your schools. apptegy.com Abby Honnas abby.honnas@apptegy.com 832-520-6555 ArchiveSocial | Optimere ArchiveSocial empowers public entities to engage with their community online by automatically capturing & securely archiving in-context content across their entire presence, keeping them compliant with public records law, out of risk and in control. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, we are now Optimere. archivesocial.com Blair Burns blair.burns@archivesocial.com 888-558-6032 Blackboard Blackboard is your partner in developing trusting relationships with families by providing powerful tools, training and support to help you achieve your communication goals. Now a part of Anthology, Inc. Blackboard.com/k12 Adam Dolan Adam.dolan@blackboard.com 202-615-1698 CatapultK12 CatapultK12 provides a fully integrated suite of products including websites/content management, mass communication, branded district app and emergency management. catapultk12.com Angie Brown sales@catapultk12.com 888-840-9901


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Certified Public Communicator Program at TCU The Certified Public Communicator Program at TCU serves communicators from school districts and public-sector agencies, providing postbaccalaureate professional development on writing communication plans using best practices. certifiedpubliccommunicator.org Jacqueline Lambiase, Ph.D. j.lambiase@tcu.edu 817-257-6552 Class Intercom Class Intercom is the only social media management platform created specifically for educational use allowing an unlimited number of users to collaboratively create, moderate, schedule and archive content. classintercom.com Dr. Jill Johnson jill@classintercom.com 402-613-8216 Classtag, Inc ClassTag Connect is an all-in-one family engagement platform built for district leaders that solves the problem of fragmented and siloed communications once and for all. Classtag.com Cole Dargan cole@classtag.com 629-888-3914 Claycomb Associates, Architects “Designing Schools with Kids in Mind,” Claycomb Associates, Architects exclusively serves Texas K-12 districts, offering long-range planning, bond election assistance, creative services, and construction administration. claycomb.net Tiffany Veno Tiffany.Veno@claycomb.net 972-233-6100 Daktronics With dynamic scoring and timing systems, Daktronics helps schools reinvent how to educate students, generate revenue, and increase entertainment. daktronics.com Daktronics Sports Marketing danny.braaten@daktronics.com 605-692-0200 Edlio Edlio connects K-12 communities with technology. Own your online presence with Edlio’s CMS. Add Broadcast to send autotranslated messages and OSP to collect payments online. edlio.com Sevana Moses marketing@edlio.com 310-204-7300 Finalsite Easy-to-use website and communications tools. Districts choose Finalsite for our awardwinning, ADA-compliant designs, robust communications software, integrated mobile app, easy-to-use website content management tools and secure hosting. finalsite.com Nathan Buhl nathan.buhl@finalsite.com 860-289-3507

FlashVote Want input from representative parents and community members instead of the noisiest few? FlashVote gives schools statistically valid input on any issue in 48 hours. flashvote.com/schools Kevin Lyons kevin@flashvote.com 775-235-2240 Friends of Texas Public Schools Celebrating what’s right with our schools and educating all Texans about the virtues and achievements of our Texas Public Schools! fotps.org Jennifer Storm JStorm@fotps.org 512-334-6555 Frontline Education Frontline Education is a leading provider of school administration software, connecting solutions for student and special programs, business operations and human capital management with powerful data and analytics to empower educators. frontlineeducation.com Travis Zander tzander@frontlineed.com 512-767-1507 Gabbart Communications Gabbart empowers Schools to improve their brand and engage their communities through award winning websites, mobile apps, notification systems, on-line stores, and a digital classroom. gabbart.com Frankie Hill sales@gabbart.com 877-810-6894 Gallagher Construction Services Gallagher Construction Services® provides complete construction services for independent school districts, municipalities, higher education districts & government agencies. gallaghertx.com Steve Risser srisser@gallaghertx.com 512-618-0999 Go Public Go Public promotes the great things happening in public schools and within its member ISDs. WeGoPublic.com Lisa Losasso Jackson Lisa@wegopublic.com 512-217-7408 Harris County Department of Education HCDE is a unitque education hybrid serving school districts, governmental entities and nonprofits in the third largest county in the country. hcde-texas.org Stephanie De Los Santos sdelossantos@hcde-texas.org 832-293-0876 Huckabee Communications Huckabee Communications team develops branding and communications strategies that holistically tell a client's story, increase engagement and elevate their image. huckabeecommunications.com Lesley Weaver, Director of Communications lesley.weaver@huckabee-inc.com 817-377-2969 Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Intrado SchoolMessenger Combine emergency alerts, parent communications, school notifications, mobile apps and web content management all under one, easy-to-use platform. Our systems save time and provide more immediate, thorough engagement with your community. intrado.com/en/life-safety/education Sabrina Pierce sapierce@intrado.com 800-920-3897 K12 Insight K12 Insight helps school districts turn everyday interactions into exceptional experiences by giving leaders the tools, training and data to instill a customer service culture. k12insight.com Sarah Berman sberman@k12insight.com 703-542-9633 Knock-Out Specialties, Inc. Welcome to Knock-Out Specialties, where promoting your business is our business. We are a premier source for your branding solutions and promotional product needs! knockoutspecialties.com Brent Bond brent@knockoutspecialties.com 940-735-2527 MyVRSpot With MyVRSpot, you can broadcast anytime, anywhere, from most any device. All events are automatically captured, converted to video, and available for easy sharing. myvrspot.com Lisa Harmison lisa@myvrspot.com 888-237-6740 ext.1006 National School Public Relations Association Stop by the NSPRA booth to see how you can connect and grow with your professional school PR community, expand and elevate your work, and share and learn best practices. nspra.org Barbara M. Hunter, APR bhunter@nspra.org 301-519-0496 ParentSquare ParentSquare provides unified school-home communications from district office to the classroom. Reporting, integrations, language translation, and app / email / text / voice / web access support equitable communication. parentsquare.com Jay Klanfer schools@parentsquare.com 888-996-4156 Peachjar Peachjar unites schools, parents and communities in the mission to increase parent engagement by distributing important school and community programs to parents as interactive digital flyers. peachjar.com Tabassum Bhaghani TabassumB@peachjar.com 858-997-2117 x112


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Qualtrics Qualtrics is used by 3/4 of the fortune 100 companies, nearly every University, and K-12 to improve experiences and relationships with parents, students, and the community. qualtrics.com Robbie Brown robbieb@qualtrics.com 801-309-1644 Region 4 Education Service Center Proud to be the “Official Printer of TSPRA,” we offer online printing services 24 hours a day! Our friendly team is ready to assist you. Stop by our booth and learn what we can do. esc4.net/printcenter Bryan Tucker btucker@esc4.net 713-744-8129 Relatrix Corporation Relatrix lets your district recruit volunteers, track visitors, and match partners with your school needs. Engage your community and keep schools safe with Relatrix. relatrix.com/tspra22 Mark Franke mfranke@relatrix.com 800.570.6234 School Revenue Partners Stop by our table to learn about how we can generate revenue using your website and e-newsletter and bring more money to your department. schoolrevenuepartners.com Thomas Evans tevans@schoolrevenuepartners.com 214-620-2091 SchoolStatus Simple solutions for districts who need accessible student data and district-wide communication tools to increase parent and student engagement. The platform aggregates information and pairs with call, text and email capability for data-informed communications. schoolstatus.com Peter Perez peter@schoolstatus.com 601-620-0613 Smore Smore makes it easy to design beautiful and effective online newsletters. Users of our amazing product create a culture of consistent communication, with interactive newsletters people actually open and read. Smore.com Jonathan Rivera jonathan@smore.com 801-709-0788 #SocialSchool4EDU #SocialSchool4EDU provides social media management, offers a Social Media Bootcamp, and runs a vibrant online community that provides professional development for school social media champions. socialschool4edu.com Andrea Gribble andrea@socialschool4edu.com 715-205-0429

TalkingPoints TalkingPoints is a multilingual, two-way family engagement platform that establishes effective and meaningful communication with all families in more than 100 languages. talkingpts.org Ivan Solomon ivan@talkingpts.org 704-751-2325 TeacherLists TeacherLists is the easy-to-use online school supply list solution that helps schools and districts manage supply lists and share them with families in seconds — without the hassle of printing and distributing lists. teacherlists.com Charlene LaFerriere claferriere@teacherlists.com 800-644-3561 x209

WRA Architects We’ve designed more than 1,200 projects for 70 districts including K-12 schools, stadiums, auditoriums, CATE & STE(A)M facilities and more. Services include facility assessment, master planning, bond planning, architectural and interior design, and construction administration. wraarchitects.com Mike Holmberg mholmberg@wraarchitects.com 254-396-4776

Texas Association of School Boards We’re here for the benefit of Texas public education. Members have instant access to expert information, training, and advocacy support. So, when you need help, Think TASB First! tasb.org Theresa Gage theresa.gage-dieringer@tasb.org 512-467-3564 T-Mobile Enjoy Employee Perks for your personal needs with T-Mobile! Discounted Tiered plans with unlimited voice, text, data, all taxes and fees included! t-mo.co/2XYnbT5 Natalya Kasha natalya.kasha@t-mobile.com 214-334-7293 The Scholastic Network The Scholastic Network is a one-of-a-kind Visual Communications System that addresses all of a School District's stakeholders including students, teachers, staff, taxpayers, bond election voters, businesses, government and non-profit organizations. thescholasticnetwork.com Casey Freshour cfreshour@thescholasticnetwork.com 800-660-5572 VOLY - powered by VolunteerNow VOLY and VOLY Mobile is a user-friendly, cloudbased, fully integrated solution that recruits, vets, manages, and acknowledges your volunteers and community partners. volyinfo.org Patrick Hicks schools@voly.org 214-818-9855 VYPE Media, LLC Content Provider and Marketing Partner for ISDs and Schools, specializing in athletics vype.com Derek Dusek derek.dusek@vypemedia.com 316-641-1105

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


Important Dates


APRIL 14 15 20 21 22 21 25 29

Virtual Vendor Extravaganza on Remo (registration necessary) Good Friday – TSPRA Offices Closed East Texas regional meeting Northwest regional meeting Deadline to submit Superintendent of the Year nominations to regional ESCs Online Learning Series: Safety and Emergency Tips and Tools sponsored by CatapultK12 (registration necessary) Online Learning Series: Lunch with Lawyer Dennis Eichelbaum (registration necessary) Online Learning Series: Videography on the Fly (registration necessary)

MAY 3 4 5 6 11 11 13 16 16-20 17 24 30

Online Learning Series: AP Style: Yes, it Still Matters (registration necessary) Nominations for 2022 Key Communicator open Cinco de Mayo HASPRA regional meeting 2022-2023 Budget Committee Meeting SASPRA regional meeting SPRINT regional meeting Deadline to order Star Awards duplicate awards Interviews for TSPRA executive director Online Learning Series: Newsletter Roundtables using Remo Deadline to submit “Proud Products” to TASB for the Lone Star Magazine Memorial Day- TSPRA offices closed

JUNE 2 8 9 9 10 15-16 17 19 24 20 29 30 30

Deadline to submit nominations for Teacher of the Year to regional ESCs Gulf Coast regional meeting East Texas regional meeting West Central regional meeting TSPRA offices closed TSPRA Executive Committee Meeting TSPRA offices closed Juneteenth TSPRA offices closed SASPRA regional meeting Deadline to submit nominations for School Board of the Year to Regional ESCs Deadline (4:00 p.m.) for 2022 Key Communicator Nominations Last day of employment for current executive director

JULY 1 4 5 8 15 17-21

TSPRA offices closed Independence Day -TSPRA offices closed New TSPRA Executive Director begins employment TSPRA offices closed TSPRA offices closed NPSRA 2022 in Chicago

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org

More info : www.TSP RA.o



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Annual Conference February 20-23 Omni Fort Worth

Spring 2022 | www.TSPRA.org


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