History

TSPRA traces its origin back to the summer of 1962, at the annual convention of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) in Denver, Colorado. A group of 11 Texas delegates led by Don E. Matthews, outgoing NSPRA president and an assistant superintendent in Dallas ISD, met to begin the process of forming a chapter. The Lone Star Chapter was officially launched at the TASA/TASB Convention in Austin with Matthews as the first president. Membership dues were $5, and in a letter to members, Matthews wrote, “… our purpose is to help bring about harmony of understanding between the schools of Texas and their publics.”

The first real chapter meeting was held in 1963 when the chapter had 57 dues-paying members, most of whom were superintendents. Chapter members began presenting workshops at the Texas Association of School Administrators’ Conference as early as 1967.

In 1969, the Lone Star Chapter changed its name to Texas Chapter, National School Public Relations Association. In 1975, the bylaws were amended to state that the organization would also be known by the initials TSPRA, standing for Texas School Public Relations Association. In 2018, TSPRA added the DBA Texas School Public Relations Association in the state of Texas.

In 1972, TSPRA was rated as the best NSPRA chapter in the nation and the association continued to be a perennial NSPRA Blue Ribbon Chapter, as well as receiving honors for Distinguished Chapter and Outstanding Year-Round Project. In 1987, 2000, 2011 and 2017 TSPRA hosted the National School Public Relations Association Seminar. TSPRA has a rich tradition of providing leadership to NSPRA. Seven members have served as NSPRA president: Don Matthews, Lloyd Bell, Larry Ascough, Bonnie Ellison, Steve Knagg, Dorian Martin and Julie Thannum. Ascough, Ellison, Knagg, Rodney Davis, Bob Sharp, Louise Henry and Julie Zwahr have served as South Central Region vice president.

In 1972, TSPRA petitioned for and was granted affiliate status with the Texas State Teachers Association. TSPRA, along with many other education associations, discontinued this affiliation in 1976 after the TSTA-NEA unification. In June, 1976, when Rodney Davis, Dallas ISD, was president, the Executive Committee adopted the Articles of Incorporation. In March, 1977, TSPRA was chartered as a 501(c)(3) Texas Corporation under the name Texas Chapter, National School Public Relations Association, which remains the legal name of the association today.

TSPRA’s first executive secretary, Dick Smith, published the first newsletter using the name, TSPRA UPDATE, shortly after he was hired in 1975. Smith served in the position until December 1980. Don Agnew, followed Smith and served until 1988. Smith and Agnew handled TSPRA’s business in conjunction with their school public relations duties.

In August, 1988, TSPRA contracted with Annell Todd to serve as executive director and to provide association management under the auspices of her business Annell Todd Communications. The move established a state office and visibility in Austin. In 1996, Todd became a full-time employee for TSPRA, and Janet Crock moved from part-time to full-time administrative assistant in July 1997.

TSPRA’s visibility and credibility continued to grow with members serving on statewide committees and frequently presenting at state and national conferences. Annual projects such as the Texas Public Schools Week Promotional Kit, Star Awards Communications Awards and the Key Communicator Award have brought recognition to the association.

Since the late eighties TSPRAns have provided training for thousands of education professionals. TSPRA also collaborates on projects with other state education associations and the Te

TSPRA traces its origin back to the summer of 1962, at the annual convention of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) in Denver, Colorado. A group of 11 Texas delegates led by Don E. Matthews, outgoing NSPRA president and an assistant superintendent in Dallas ISD, met to begin the process of forming a chapter. The Lone Star Chapter was officially launched at the TASA/TASB Convention in Austin with Matthews as the first president. Membership dues were $5, and in a letter to members, Matthews wrote, “… our purpose is to help bring about harmony of understanding between the schools of Texas and their publics.”

The first real chapter meeting was held in 1963 when the chapter had 57 dues-paying members, most of whom were superintendents. Chapter members began presenting workshops at the Texas Association of School Administrators’ Conference as early as 1967.

In 1969, the Lone Star Chapter changed its name to Texas Chapter, National School Public Relations Association. In 1975, the bylaws were amended to state that the organization would also be known by the initials TSPRA, standing for Texas School Public Relations Association. In 2018, TSPRA registered the DBA Texas School Public Relations Association in the state of Texas.

In 1972, TSPRA was rated as the best NSPRA chapter in the nation and the association continued to be a perennial NSPRA Blue Ribbon Chapter, as well as receiving honors for Distinguished Chapter and Outstanding Year-Round Project. In 1987, 2000, 2011 and 2017 TSPRA hosted the National School Public Relations Association Seminar. TSPRA has a rich tradition of providing leadership to NSPRA. Seven members have served as NSPRA president: Don Matthews (1961-62), Lloyd Bell (?), Larry Ascough (1975-76), Bonnie Ellison (1984-85), Steve Knagg (1991-92), Dorian Martin (1997-98) and Julie Thannum (2016-17). Ascough, Ellison, Knagg, Rodney Davis, Bob Sharp, Louise Henry and Julie Zwahr have served as NSPRA South Central Region vice president. In 1987, 2000, 2011 and 2017 TSPRA hosted the National School Public Relations Association Seminar.

In 1972, TSPRA petitioned for and was granted affiliate status with the Texas State Teachers Association. TSPRA, along with many other education associations, discontinued this affiliation in 1976 after the TSTA-NEA unification. In June 1976, when Rodney Davis, Dallas ISD, was president, the Executive Committee adopted the Articles of Incorporation. In March 1977, TSPRA was chartered as a 501(c)(3) Texas Corporation under the name Texas Chapter, National School Public Relations Association, which remains the legal name of the association today.

TSPRA’s first executive secretary, Dick Smith, published the first newsletter using the name, TSPRA UPDATE, shortly after he was hired in 1975. Smith served in the position until December 1980. Don Agnew, followed Smith and served until 1988. Smith and Agnew handled TSPRA’s business in conjunction with their school public relations duties.

In August 1988, TSPRA contracted with Annell Todd to serve as executive director and to provide association management under the auspices of her business Annell Todd Communications. The move established a state office and visibility in Austin. In 1996, Todd became a full-time employee for TSPRA, and Janet Crock moved from part-time to full-time administrative assistant in July 1997.

TSPRA’s visibility and credibility continued to grow with members serving on statewide committees and frequently presenting at state and national conferences. Annual projects such as the Texas Public Schools Week Promotional Kit, Star Awards Communications Awards and the Key Communicator Award have brought recognition to the association.

Since the late ’80s, TSPRAns have provided training for thousands of education professionals. TSPRA also collaborates on projects with other state education associations and the Texas Education Agency.

In 1997, a young Austin entrepreneur named Deb Shelby walked into the TSPRA office and asked if we’d like to have a website. Her new start-up, Interactive Ensemble, presented TSPRA with an extremely good offer and in January 1998, TSPRA launched its first website. For many years Interactive Ensemble handled most of the web update work and the State office just sent them the changes we needed. Many revisions occurred adding in member areas, confidential chat rooms, an online membership directory, the Document Vault, discussion forums, voting, surveys, and online financial and event registration systems. TSPRA has gone through four major template changes. The second one, using JOOMLA, transitioned the majority of the web work to office staff. Our latest major website revision launched in the summer of 2020. It was developed by Member365 who also handles our association management software.

In 2004, Annell Todd retired as TSPRA’s executive director and the association conducted a nationwide search for a new state office leader. In April 2004, Judy Farmer, former executive director of the Texas Association of Partners in Education (TAPE) was hired for that role.

TSPRA expanded its membership with the addition of the Education Foundation Division in September 2004. Membership levels in this division were open to staff and board members of an education foundation whose primary purpose is to support a Texas public school district or an individual public school. The position of Chairperson of the Education Foundation Division was added to the executive committee to provide leadership and direction for these foundation members. Education foundation topics were expanded at the annual conference.

As the demand for more member services grew with the number of members increasing every year, TSPRA added a third staff position, communications specialist, in September 2009.

After six years of leadership, Judy Farmer retired in June 2010 and again the association conducted a nationwide search for its next leader. This time they found that leader on their own executive committee. Linsae Snider, who was serving as a vice president, moved up to the executive director’s role in July 2010.

In April 2011, TSPRA launched what would become one of its most popular and highly rated member services, Edulege, an informative email blast on statewide and national legislative news. At first, Edulege was a product of the state office. But in December 2012, retired TSPRAn Andy Welch, took over Edulege, keeping our members up-to-date on the news, which impacts their communication duties. Distribution is twice-weekly, except for summers and holidays.

TSPRA began using the services of Allman & Associates for the filing of our federal form 990 and CPA accounting services in 2011. TSPRA had an official CPA audit in 1988 when Annell Todd became the association’s executive director. After that, TSPRA had yearly audits conducted by members appointed by the executive committee. But in 2017 when the operating budget exceeded $500.000 annually, TSPRA contracted with Allman & Associates to perform a full CPA audit of the 2016-2017 financials. Since then, Allman & Associates has performed a Review of Financial Statements in 2018, 2019, a full audit in 2020, and a Review of Financial Statements in 2021.

NSPRA awarded TSPRA its Mark of Distinction, Exemplary Chapter Award in July 2014.

In March of 2016, TSPRA began a search for a new online association management system that would handle membership (new members and renewals), event registrations, financials and store sales. After screening several companies TSPRA accepted the bid from Member365, a company based in Canada. The system automates membership renewals, event registration, communication, voting, surveys and payments. It was integrated with our 2016 website. In 2020, TSPRA moved and redesigned its website using Member365’s system. We also began accepting credit card payments for some things using Member365’s payment portal.

In the summer of 2016, TSPRA members were surveyed to see if there was interest in rebranding TSPRA with a new logo. Back in 1998, TSPRA held a new logo contest but none of the submissions were found to be acceptable to the executive committee. But now, in 2016, there was support to do this again. In 2017, the executive committee designated funds and formed an ad hoc new logo committee. RFPs were sent out to nine design companies and the executive committee chose Blue Jarvis Media. Blue Jarvis submitted design mock-ups in November 2017 and with input from the committee the new logo was accepted on December 18, 2017. A style guide was accepted detailing how the new logo would be used. The new logo was presented to the membership at a luncheon during the 2018 TSPRA Annual Conference where the original TSPRA logo designer, Judy Kriehn of Garland ISD, was recognized. Journals embossed with the new logo were presented to conference attendees and all conference signage, along with a new banner were unveiled.

Everything changed in March of 2020 as the COVID-19 global pandemic spread across the state and country. TSPRA provided more virtual training and support for our members as we all struggled with working from home and missing the day-to-day in-person contact with our colleagues and constituents due to the health crisis. As part of TSPRA’s Strategic Initiatives for 2020-2021, the Strategic Planning Committee directed the association to invest in the continued professional development of members by expanding opportunities for learning, networking and engagement of members and sponsors through ongoing virtual connections as a means of expanding skillsets, solving and sharing of common problems/issues and making professional connections to remove barriers of time and travel to deliver timely, job-related and relevant content throughout the year. With this, TSPRA’s Online Learning platform was created using Zoom and budgeting for some paid consultants to present while finding sponsorships from our vendors who were also unable to connect with TSPRA members during this time. In 2021, TSPRA offered an Online Learning subscription to members for ten sessions at a discounted rate.

TSPRA launched its quarterly digital publication “Communication Matters” in the summer of 2020. Staff member Tracie Seed along with a committee of members produces it and members provide the articles.

While other associations decided to forgo an in-person conference, TSPRA’s executive committee decided to proceed with an in-person conference in February 2021.

TSPRA’s Star Awards began as a way for TSPRA to recognize the work our members do in their organizations and districts throughout the year. Members sent their entries to the state office and judges evaluated them, selecting the winners who would be recognized at an award’s banquet during the annual conference. At first, there were Best of Category, Gold and Silver Star awards. Later, the Platinum and Crystal Commendation awards were added. The program also expanded to allow for Bronze Star awards as well as expanding the number and types of categories. In the beginning, TSPRA members managed the awards contest. Then for a few years, contractors were used. Finally, the project was given to Janet Crock in the State office to manage.

In the early days, there were so few entries that video entries were judged on the first day of the annual conference. Members also came to the conference and explained their entries to the judges. As the program grew, the state office would receive hundreds of entries that had to be opened, entered into a database, grouped by divisions and categories, and then taken to the judges, who when they were finished, had to return the entries to the office. The office then marked the winners in the database and gathered the judges’ evaluation forms into packets arranged by districts. It took weeks to do all this and the deadline to enter used to be in mid-December, so all this work had to be done and certificates and awards made in about 52 days. The task became impossible in that short timeframe. So the deadline was moved to October 31.

The number of entries continued to increase every year, so the State office developed an online entry system where the members entered online, which created the database. But members still had to mail in the actual entries and the state office had to do all the sorting and delivering. This too became cumbersome. So in 2016, TSPRA contracted with Open Water, an online award system software company, to create a complete online system where all tasks by entrants, judges and administrators are handled online. The system has been a huge success with both members and judges.

The State office does not have information on the number of Star Award entries in the early years. When Janet Crock came to work for TSPRA in 1992 she began keeping records. In the 1990s TSPRA received about 500-540 entries. The number climbed and dipped throughout the years afterward, finally setting a record for this year’s Star Awards of 1662 entries.

Historical Membership Records:
Startup Sep 1962: 11 charter members
1963 – 57
1972 –  105
1982 –  215
1992 –  307
2002 – 365
2012 – 899
2022 –  1178