Thursday, August 4, 2016

School communicators converge on Chicago

David R. Schuler was honored.
More than 1,000 school communications professionals from across the country met in Chicago recently for the 63rd National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) Annual Seminar. Building on the seminar theme, “Leading through Communication: Solutions for Challenging Times,” attendees were treated to numerous professional development activities that aimed to equip school communicators with the tools necessary to spread the message of success in public schools.

The Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA) served as host committee and brought together a number of Illinois districts and staff for presentations at this year’s event. Eleven different panels featured Illinois presenters and districts. Those topics included:

  • How to Make the Most of your First NSPRA Seminar, Elmhurst CUSD 205
  • What’s New? What’s Next? Keeping Up with Education Advocacy, Fremont SD 79
  • Improve Your Communications!, Glenbrook HSD 225
  • Choose Your Adventure: Personalized Learning on School PR Topics Important to You and Your District, Schaumburg SD 54
  • Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity: Exploring Challenges, Issues and Best Practices Engaging Diverse Groups and Stakeholders, CUSD 308 (Oswego)
  • The 3Rs of Telling Your School District’s Story: Repeating, Repurposing, Retweeting, CHSD 128 (Vernon Hills), and, Glenbard THSD 87 (Glen Ellyn)
  • Redefining Engagement: Showcasing Your District’s Work to Build Buy-In, THSD 214 (Arlington Heights)
  • The One-Day Campaign: Building Successful Twitter Engagement, THSD 214 (Arlington Heights)
  • Partnerships: Why Your Local Municipality Makes Good Business Sense!, Naperville CUSD 203
  • Using Political Campaign Tactics to Influence Others to Take Action, THSD 214 (Arlington Heights)
  • It’s Worth the Effort! Engaging Community in Your Strategic Planning, Evanston/Skokie SD 65

Additionally, IASB staff participated in round-table discussions on such issues as community engagement, recruiting school board members, and creating and implementing a style guide. 

While professional development and networking opportunities are the primary focus of the seminar, educational communications leaders are also honored for their achievements. Earning one of the top awards in 2016 was Illinois’ own David R. Schuler, American Association of School Administrators (AASA) 2015-16 president and superintendent of THSD 214 in Arlington Heights. Schuler received the Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award that recognizes superintendents for outstanding leadership in school public relations.

Among Schuler’s acknowledgements were his forward-thinking approach to school public relations and his commitment to school communication as a district priority. During his tenure with THSD 214, Schuler has created the Community Engagement and Outreach Department, launched the national “Redefining Ready!” initiative, championed and helped pass legislation requiring Illinois public universities to accept Advance Placement scores of 3 or higher, started the Alumni Advisory Council, and launched the “Everyday Hero” campaign to celebrate extraordinary staff members. Schuler has also been a prominent supporter of social media engagement, co-leading the popular #SuptChat on Twitter.

Three other Illinois superintendents were also recognized for their use of new communication tools and their ability to engage and inform their communities. The Superintendent to Watch list honors administrators with less than five years of experience who have used innovative public relations tactics. Included on the 2015-16 list are P.J. Caposey, Meridian CUSD 223; Ehren Jarrett, Rockford SD 205; and Michael Lubelfeld, Deerfield SD 109.

This year’s seminar took place July 17-20 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. The 2017 seminar is scheduled for July 9-12 in San Antonio, Texas. Additional information can be found on the NSPRA website. Information about the Illinois chapter can be found at