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TSPRA Newsletter Issue 60 for Web

ISSUE 60 - May 25, 2011

- Jump to: Executive Director's Message

- Jump to: It's time to get recognized!

- Jump to: TSPRA Office closed Monday

- Jump to: Member Spotlight

- Jump to: Events

- Jump to: News

- Jump to: Sponsor Column

» From TSPRA Executive Director Linsae Snider

Happy endings to the 2010-2011 school year! Those of you who served time at the campus level know that a completed checklist must be submitted to the principal before staff can leave on the last day. So I thought it is only appropriate that we share a TSPRA checklist in hopes that the following items will be accomplished in time to enjoy the summer months!

  • Submit your application by May 31 for SchoolMessenger's $2,500 ActLocal Grant, which will be awarded to one Texas district
  • Submit nomination by June 15 for the 2011 Key Communicator Award (see below)
  • "Like" TSPRA on Facebook and follow us on Twitter
  • Inform your area vice-presidents of any TSPRA retirements this spring
  • Start preparing your Star Awards entries (see below)
  • Click here to register for the free Texas-hosted events during the NSPRA Seminar in San Antonio
  • Renew your CommLINK subscription
  • Mark your calendar for the TSPRA 50th Annual Conference on February 12-15, 2012 at the Sheraton Austin

**The most efficient way to receive information this summer will be through our Facebook and Twitter pages. The TSPRA newsletter will be published monthly during June through August and the EduLege will be sent only as key education issues occur.

TSPRAns have spent the past 187 days recognizing the good deeds and successes of others. As many of you prepare for your annual review, take a minute to reflect on the deserved accolades YOU have earned! We've started a list below that covers some of the many duties the communications staff are responsible for just in the month of May. What a testament to the vital role you all play in the success of our school districts!

A Sampling of What TSPRAns May Accomplish During the Month of May:

  • Plan appreciation banquets
  • Coordinate retirement receptions
  • Arrange student recognition events
  • Welcome new superintendents
  • Broadcast graduation ceremonies
  • Award student and teacher scholarships
  • Execute golf tournaments
  • Conduct new board orientations
  • Attend campus student and staff recognitions
  • Calm staff and students during TAKS testing
  • Participate in administrative cabinet meetings/briefings
  • Update crisis communication plans
  • Represent the district at community related events
  • Prepare for the opening of new campuses
  • Bid farewell to former and greet new board members
  • Recognize teachers of the year
  • Manage communication efforts of bond and TRE elections
  • Communicate to the media the times, locations, and specifics of all district related events
  • Update websites
  • Create end of school and back to school publications
  • Justify budget cuts
  • Communicate internally and externally changes for the new school year
  • Announce test results
  • Address staff morale during uncertain education economics
  • Publicize 2011-2012 school calendar  
  • Prepare for 2012 convocation

Here's wishing you an enjoyable end of the school year, a restful summer and an energetic preparation for the new school year! And take time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Linsae Snider
TSPRA Executive Director

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It's time to get recognized!  
Key Communicator: Nominations for the 2011 TSPRA Key Communicator Award are due on June 15. To discourage unnecessary duplication and burden on the judges, the Awards Committee will consider only one nomination packet per nominee.If you've submitted your nomination to Chair Marcia Coker and did NOT receive a confirmation message, please call her immediately at (972) 429-3018. Click here for more info.

TSB Bragging Rights: Which student or community program is your district most proud of? The deadline for submitting your entry to Texas School Business's Bragging Rights issue isSeptember 2. Click here for more info. 

Star Awards: You know how the deadline to enter Star Awardsalways sneaks up on you, and you end up frantically scrambling to get everything together in time? Save yourself the stress by starting NOW to gather your best communications work from the past school year (work used between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 is eligible). Then, when we send out the entry form later this summer, you can sit pretty knowing you have everything ready to go!

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TSPRA Office closed Monday
The TSPRA office will be closed on Monday, May 30 for Memorial Day. We will be unavailable to receive mail, phone calls or emails. The office will reopen at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 31; we will respond to any messages at that time.

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 Member Spotlight
As the school year is quickly winding down, we understand that several of our longtime TSPRAns will soon be retiring. And after years of bragging on behalf of their districts, employees and students, we thought it appropriate to take a moment to brag on their behalf.

Andy Welch
Communication Director, Austin ISD
AndyWelchAfter a career dedicated to serving the Texas public, including 13 years as AISD's Communication Director, Andy will retire on Thursday, June 30. His work life has certainly not been spent with his feet kicked up on his desk. Andy worked as a reporter in the State Capitol press corps, Communications Director for Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower and again for State Comptroller John Sharp before joining the District. And when he did, it was at a time when, as he describes it, "the board had just voted to buy-out the then-Superintendent's contract; the bond construction program was in turmoil; and the District was being investigated for altering student test data." Andy got to work calming the waters, contributing to what some have called the "golden age" of AISD under Superintendent Pat Forgione and building the AISD Communication and Media Production departments. "They are easily the most dedicated, creative, hard-working group of men and women with whom I've ever had the pleasure of working," he said, adding that they will easily be what he misses most about AISD.

Andy's focus for retirement is something we can all appreciate: to "grow [his] soul" by way of the simple things in life: reading more, exercising more, practicing the piano (though he claims he'll never be a threat to Jon Dahlander!) and keeping up his communication chops.

Having been a member of TSPRA as long as he's been in the profession, Andy looked back fondly on his time with the organization, one that he says, "[provides] hands-on support to school district communicators who are in the trenches, doing the heavy lifting every day." He went on to encourage other TSPRAns, encouraging them to keep doing that "heavy lifting...tell our story, and tell is often," despite the difficult state public education is in.

To read the whole Q&A with Andy, please see below.

What is your official last day with Austin ISD?  It's Thursday, June 30, 2011

Will there be a reception in your honor?   No, definitely not!  I have been very insistent that there will no retirement celebration. This has been an extremely difficult year for public education in Texas, and for the Austin School District in particular. Too many of my friends and colleagues--warriors, truly, for public school students--have lost their jobs. They will pack-up their belongings and leave their classrooms and offices without two-bits of the recognition that they deserve. I'll simply say my good-byes and be gone too.

How many years were you with Austin ISD? I've been Communication Director for the Austin School District since April 1998.  When I was hired, the Board of Trustees had just voted to buy-out the then-Superintendent's contract; the bond construction program was in turmoil; and the District was being investigated for altering student test data.  To quote a line in the country song, "What was I thinkin?!!" Fortunately, things got better in August 1999 with the hiring of Superintendent Pat Forgione.

Prior to coming to AISD, I was Communication Director for State Comptroller John Sharp and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower.  I was also a reporter at the State Capitol...back in the days when there was still a State Capitol press corps.

What are your plans upon retirement?  This is the question that I'm asked most-often, and my answer is always the same:  "I want to grow my soul."  I want to exercise more, read more, and practice the piano more, although I'll never be a threat to Jon Dahlander!  I have no intention of losing my contacts with the news media, or of abandoning whatever array of communication skills that I've accumulated.  I may do some consulting, and I'll definitely do some writing.  Whether it's ghost-writing Op-Eds for some Superintendent or Board President, or writing Press Releases for my Church's Fall Festival, I don't know.

How many years with TSPRA?  I've been a member of TSPRA since I've been employed by the Austin School District--13 years.  It's a great organization, providing hands-on support to school district communicators who are in the trenches, doing the heavy lifting, everyday.  I especially enjoyed the Annual Conferences, of course.  It was always great to see old friends, and I  learned so much from the seminars and break-out sessions.

What are you going to miss the most about working at AISD ?  That's easy:
the Communication and Media Production staff.   They are easily the most
dedicated, creative, hard-working group of men and women with whom I've
ever had the pleasure of working.  I was constantly amazed with the
workload that they could manage, and how quickly they  could turn one
project around and move on to another, and another.  They have my deepest
admiration and respect, and I wish them all the best.

Any last words you would like for us to share with TSPRAns?  Public Education is in a world of hurt, right now, and frankly, I don't see things getting  better anytime soon.  But keep doing that 'heavy lifting;' tell our story, and tell it often.

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May 27
TSPRA North Central Regional Meeting
Dallas Area: 3:00 pm @Manny's Uptown Tex Mex -or-
FW Area: 3:30 pm @Blue Mesa Grill

June 8, 11:30 am
TSPRA Far West Regional Meeting

June 9
TSPRA Houston/Beaumont Regional Meeting

June 16, 10 am - 3 pm
TSPRA Executive Committee Meeting
@TSPRA state office

June 21, 8 - 10:30 am
TSPRA San Antonio Regional Meeting
@North East ISD

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Texas students' graduation rates soar 
Texas to teach more students with less money
Why I will never, ever hire a "social media expert"
TSPRA Blog: Cameras, like you, that 'do it all'
Budget Notes: Racing to finish school finance

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Sponsor Column 

O’Connell Robertson is a comprehensive architectural/engineering design firm that specializes in educational facility planning. From offices in Austin and San Antonio, the firm works with school districts throughout Texas, providing bond planning and communications, facility assessments, architecture, engineering, interior design and construction administration. Their experience includes masterplans and new campuses, athletic facilities, and engineering upgrades. Developing relationships with their clients, O’Connell Robertson is a true partner in education, donating time and financial resources.

Cathy Brandewie
Corporate Director of Marketing
(512) 478-7286

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