2022 Professional Awards Winners

Professional Awards Committee Chair: Stephanie Fretwell, Amarillo ISD
Committee Members: Shelby Akin, Pleasant Grove ISD; Monica Faulkenbery, APR, Northside ISD;
Ian Halperin, Wylie ISD; Dayna Owen, Friendswood ISD

2022 Professional Achievement Award

Angela Brown, Coppell ISD

Before joining Coppell ISD in 2019, Executive Director of Communications and Community Engagement ANGELA BROWN worked for almost 20 years in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. She began as a teacher in CFBISD before moving into communications and community engagement. Brown’s nominators said that she “consistently presents at TSPRA conferences, consults with colleagues and is ready to support her fellow school public professionals when called upon to help.” She is also a past recipient of the TSPRA President’s Award in 2014 for spearheading a team of other districts to serve Oklahoma’s Moore ISD when a storm destroyed the town, and the district didn’t have a communications department to handle the crisis. A part of Brown’s “comprehensive Strategic Communications Plan,” is to use innovative technology to build trust and transparency as well as engagement and channels to communicate consistently to all CISD stakeholders. Brown has seen many successes in her career from greatly enhancing community involvement and experience through an interactive magazine and inspiring social media campaigns to an informative podcast, successful Tax Ratification and Bond elections and more. “It is no wonder that thanks to her efforts, CISD Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt was chosen as one of the “2020 Superintendents to Watch” by NSPRA and received the NSPRA 2021 Communication Technology Award for Superintendents,” her nominators lauded. Brown has been a TSPRA member for more than 20 years.

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2022 Most Valuable Member

Stephanie de los Santos
Harris County Department of Education

STEPHANIE DE LOS SANTOS is the director of Marketing and Client Engagement division at Harris County Department of Education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media and Spanish and a Master of Education from Houston Baptist University. Before joining HCDE in 2017, she was the director of communication in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and taught in Aldine ISD for nine years. De Los Santos is in her second term on the Executive Committee as vice president at-large position 2. She has served as scholarship chair and supports TSPRA by sponsoring ads for the magazine, conference program and website. She also has HCDE as a vendor at the TSPRA conference and the sponsor of the Partner in Public Education Award. In 2017, she was conference day chair, and, most recently, she was a co-chair for the magazine committee that developed and launched “Communication Matters.” De Los Santos has also served on the Conference Planning, Nominating, Strategic Planning, Decorating, Professional Awards and the Executive Director Evaluation committees. Stephanie has presented at conference numerous times, contributing her expertise to the growth of other TSPRAns. De Los Santos has been a TSPRA member since 2006.

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2022 Rookie Of The Year

Ashley Scott, Victoria ISD

ASHLEY SCOTT, executive director of communication for Victoria ISD, began in her role in October 2020, becoming the district’s first-ever professional in that position. Scott grew up in Victoria, attended VISD schools and the University of Houston-Victoria. For a large portion of her first year, she was a one-woman team, virtually starting a department over from scratch. Throughout the next year-plus, Scott built a newly- improved, reputable communications department and focused on achieving effective, two-way communication to create engagement and community involvement. “In her first year with VISD, Ashley spearheaded and carried out many new additions to create multiple avenues for communication,” her nominator expressed. “Ashley met with and created strong bonds with [the] local media to share important VISD news to the community. These relationships are still flourishing, with the district even establishing a biweekly column ‘School Matters’ with ‘The Victoria Advocate.’” In addition, during her short time at the district, Scott oversaw a new website and mobile app, increase social media followers and engagement, increase the e-newsletter’s readership and had an additional camera put in the VISD Board room and the ability to live-stream it and watch on a local television channel. Scott has been a TSPRA member since October 2020.

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2022 Bright Idea Award

No Award Given

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2022 Media Award

Wayne Carter, NBC 5 (DFW)

WAYNE CARTER, a special projects reporter for NBC 5 DFW, leads an innovative series called “Carter in the Classroom,” which highlights the ways schools around North Texas help students achieve academic success. Arriving in North Texas in 2018, Carter launched "Brag About Your School;” the campaign is an opportunity for students, teachers and parents to showcase the unique things that make their school special. Carter believes strongly in being an advocate for students, parents, and schools. “Carter in the Classroom” shares stories about the successes that are happening in public schools. He focuses on the dynamic learning occurring in schools in North Texas, as well as the challenges districts face and what conversations

need to happen in the community to help promote student success. Carter shares the details about the instructional process, mistakes and all, to show how deep learning occurs in our state. Rather than creating moments, Carter concentrates on capturing the process, often spending hours and days at schools for his stories. It is his stories that show his commitment to elevating education discussions in North Texas, going in-depth and behind the scenes to show the power of public education.

Sponsored by Blackboard

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2022 Partner in Public Education Award

Gary Hefner, Magnolia H-E-B

GARY HEFNER, general manager at H-E-B, is known as the “Mayor of Magnolia” as he and his family have integrated themselves into the community. After being abandoned by his parents because he developed a serious heart condition at five years old and was flown to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Hefner spent many years living in various homes and enduring countless surgeries.

When he was 11, he was adopted by the nurse who helped him when he first arrived at the hospital. Growing up, his school coaches, teachers and administrators became Hefner’s support system. When Hefner married, the one thing he told his wife was, “We will be involved in the schools whether our kids are there or not. I didn’t have that support and I want to be the person that maybe one kid needs and make a difference.”

Over the years, Hefner has made significant contributions to his community and has dedicated himself to serving and helping others. He has built a reputation in the Magnolia community for supporting students, administrators and teachers by being involved with the district’s teacher appreciation programs, scholarship programs, student fundraisers and more. “If you are at a school event, you will probably see Gary there, too!” his nominator explained in his application. “

As the general manager of [H-E-B], he knows his employees very well and goes above and beyond to help anyone. He has helped several students in tough family situations. He is a selfless, servant leader who believes in making a difference in the lives of our students and the community.”

Sponsored by Harris County Department of Education