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 he NSPRA 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.
Dick Smith, published the first TSPRA newsletter using the name, TSPRA UPDATE. Shortly after, he was hired in as TSPRA’s first executive secretary 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 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.
In January 1998, TSPRA launched its first website. Many revisions occurred including four major template changes. Currently, TSPRA uses a member management system through Ontario-based Member365 and it’s website is hosted through eLearnza.
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. Welch retired in June 2022 and currently TSPRA is researching how to continue this service to our members.
Back in 1998, TSPRA held a new logo contest but none of the submissions were found to be acceptable to the executive committee. Then in 2016, there was support to try to develop a new logo 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 global pandemic spread. TSPRA provided 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, 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.
TSPRA launched its quarterly digital publication “Communication Matters” in the summer of 2020. In the summer of 2022, the magazine was turned over to a committee of TSPRA members.
In June 2022, executive director Linsae Snider retired and the association began a search for a new leader. As the search continued, TSPRA contracted with CESO to provide services starting in September 2022 and CESO’s Julie Thannum, APR, served as interim executive director through June 30, 2023.
After a 14-month search, TSPRA found its new executive director among its own members. Patti Pawlik-Perales, a veteran TSPRAn with 34 years of experience, was hired. She will start on July 1, 2023.
STAR AWARD HISTORY
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.
The number of entries continued to increase every year, so the State office moved to an online entry system using software by Open Water. 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 in 2021 of 1662 entries.
HISTORICAL MEMBERSHIP RECORD
Startup Sep 1962: 11 charter members
1963 – 57
1972 – 105
1982 – 215
1992 – 307
2002 – 365
2012 – 899
2022 – 1178