ISSUE 62 - June 8, 2011
- Jump to: From TSPRA president Tim Carroll
- Jump to: Deadlines quickly approaching...
- Jump to: Farewell Judy and good luck!
- Jump to: Member Spotlight
- Jump to: Events
- Jump to: News
- Jump to: Sponsor Column
From TSPRA president Tim Carroll
Can you imagine the consequences if the 1970’s fad of streaking was combined with 2011 technology like texting. It brings whole new meaning to the term flash mob. Instant communications has added a new level of convenience or hassle for school communications folks.
I recently communicated with parents of 1,000 kids that a water main break would close their school two hours early. I was feeling on top of things until I got a call that said the school was being evacuated for a bomb scare. Apparently students in the school were texting their friends and parents that an evacuation was underway. Should I have been angry or impressed that our students have mastered the technology we worked so hard to teach them 10 years ago?
Instant and/or secret communications are causing big headaches around the state. Take Northside ISD’s Brandeis High School for example. Several students were recently arrested following a flash mob event in the hallway that turned into a mob of unruly students. The whole event was secretly planned by text messages and tweets.
Northside’s communications director Pascual Gonzalez summed it up best when he commented that “this whole phenomenon of mobilizing a school in an instant to take some kind of action is certainly something that's new for us.”
Caving into the new reality, Allen ISD has changed its policy and now allows high school students to carry and use cell phones on campus outside of the classroom.
The up side is that our administrators spend much less time disciplining for phone use and fighting with indignant parents about cell phones. The down side is that every single thing that happens on the Allen High School campus is reported, tweeted and videotaped.
Parents are no help. They monitor Facebook accounts and text their kids throughout the day even though the kids are supposedly phone-free in class.
A recent flu outbreak that impacted one campus was widely followed by parents online before we ever reported publicly what was going on. The most common question we got was “why didn’t you notify us sooner” even though we had only waited a few hours to get the facts.
In debriefing the incident, we realized that we now must decide how quickly to notify even if the facts are not complete. Someone else will create the facts for us online if we don’t.
So that’s your summer assignment: review your emergency communication strategies, calculate how quickly you can contact parents and work through the steps you will take if incorrect information is out there “on the Web.”
Then again, you may already have known I would say that. Just check your teenager’s Facebook account.
Tim Carroll, APR
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Deadlines quickly approaching...
--SchoolMessenger has extended the deadline to next Wednesday, June 15 for their Act Local Grant. One Texas K-12 district will win a $2,500 grant toward its communications program or communications student scholarship. The winner will be announced at the NSPRA Seminar on July 13. Click here to learn more.
--Now is the time to finish your nomination for Key Communicator, due next Wednesday, June 15. Click here for more information on who is eligible and how to nominate them.
--Karen Strong from TASB is working on a project involving pictures of school boards "in action." She is looking for some candid shots of Texas school boards working together over the past school year. Please send your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Farewell Judy and good luck!
We're sad to say that TSPRA's former executive director (2004-2010) Judy Farmer is leaving the great state of Texas for greener pastures (literally) in Portland. She is in the final stages of selling her home and will board a plane to join her daughters in Oregon on Saturday, June 18.
"It's been a fabulous 30 years working in public education in Texas, and I'm excited to use in Portland all the knowledge and experience I've gained here," Judy said. "I've learned so much from our TSPRAns, I appreciate their support and I hope to stay in touch!"
Judy plans to join us at the 2013 Annual Conference in Corpus Christi--her former stomping ground--if all goes "according to plan." We wish her well in this new adventure and would like to share Judy's email address for anyone wishing to keep in touch!
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Member SpotlightTony Thetford, APR
Director of Public Information, Irving ISD
As of June 16, Tony will retire from Irving ISD, leaving behind a lengthy and prestigious record of service in both TSPRA and public schools. While his official farewell reception has already taken place, we'd like to take a moment to recognize our colleague and friend.
Tony has put down deep roots in the Dallas-area, moving here in the late 1970's as a master student at UNT, working as the public relations director for Dallas Baptist University after graduating, then joining Irving ISD in 1980 as a communications specialist and moving up to director of public information for the past 15 years.
When asked what his plans are for retirement, Tony said that he and his top concern is to have fun this summer, mostly through some golf tournaments. "Jane and I are going to Las Vegas the first week of July," he said. "As far as future work, I would like to use my skills in consulting or a position in private industry...I am only 57."
One of Tony's memories he shared was of the Flag of Learning and Liberty ceremony at the 1987 NSPRA Seminar in San Antonio, and the time spent with many "happy" TSPRAns filling and tying balloons at 5 a.m. for the big balloon drop. He praised TSPRA for being an organization that encourages learning from each other, which for him has helped to develop many of his most dear friendships.
Tony may arguably have the longest track record of involvement between TSPRA and NSPRA, including Most Valuable Member recipient, a decorated Star Awards winner some 150 times over and a chairperson to just about every committee on the books.
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June 9, 11:30 am
TSPRA Houston/Beaumont Regional Meeting
@Joe's Crab Shack, Kemah
Deadline to submit Key Communicator Nominations
June 16, 10 am - 3 pm
TSPRA Executive Committee Meeting
@State Office Austin
June 21, 8-10:30 am
TSPRA San Antonio Regional Meeting
@North East ISD
June 23, 9:00-4:00 pm
ESC Region 12 Social Media Workshop
@ESC Region 12 Waco
NSPRA National Seminar
@San Antonio Marriott
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3D-ED help schools and districts elevate their standing through powerful customer service and communication programs.
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