Award Recognizes Exemplary Leadership in the Enhancement of Communications for Schools and the Community
Spring Hill School District, a K-12 suburban school system in Spring Hill, Kansas, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Leadership Through Communication Award, jointly sponsored by Blackboard Connect, the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). The award recognizes Barton Goering, Ph.D., superintendent, and Christine Splichal, director of communications, for demonstrating exemplary leadership in the enhancement of school-to-parent communication within the school system and the community they serve. Spring Hill School District serves 3,000 students in six schools.
The judges for the 2013 award were impressed with the high-functioning communications program that has been developed in Spring Hill School District, noting that it is strategic, transparent and two-way in design. Starting with a commitment to improving communication in 2007, the superintendent and Board of Education conducted an internal review and communication audit and began a strategic planning process that resulted in the creation of a full-time communications position. Since then, Dr. Goering and Ms. Splichal have worked together to launch a communication plan that ushered in a time of significant progress for the district.
In addition, Spring Hill School District is commended for:
- Conducting town hall meetings on a variety of issues, including creating budget priorities, proposing a bond election, building a new school, and planning for a new website. Community input is clearly incorporated into final recommendations and actions.
- Documenting the creation of a comprehensive communication program that includes a new website, use of social media, district messaging, community engagement, multi-media presentations and printed materials.
- Creating an environment where information is shared across a variety of platforms so that families and stakeholders are kept informed of key issues and district success stories.
- In 2011, a time of economic challenge for the region and the nation, the district passed a $39 million bond issue. Community members spoke eloquently of several specific instances when the school district went the extra mile that is necessary to provide service to students and the community.
- The working relationship between the superintendent and director of communications is two-way, dynamic, and oriented toward problem-solving.
- The district’s commitment to transparency is very impressive and patrons express a high level of trust in the district.
- The results of a five-year strategic effort to improve communication can be seen in improved student success, greater community understanding of district goals, and a sense of pride and accomplishment that permeates the schools and Spring Hill community.
“In less than five years, Spring Hill School District has transitioned from a district with no formal communication program to one with an award-winning program. Under Dr. Goering’s leadership, and assisted by his Director of Communications, Christine Splichal, communications is a strategic priority that has firmly positioned the district as high achieving, forward-thinking and collaborative in its work on behalf of students,” said Rich Bagin, APR, executive director of the National School Public Relations Association.
“It’s a pleasure to congratulate Dr. Barton Goering and Christine Splichal, and Spring Hill School District’s administration, faculty and staff for their vision and leadership. Blackboard stands behind every district and school that commits to student achievement through better communication and parent engagement practices. Spring Hill represents the ‘best of the best’ and we applaud them for this tremendous achievement,” said Mario Joy, Senior Vice President of Blackboard Connect.
“We know that communication is a key skill for school and district leaders,” said AASA’s executive director, Daniel A. Domenech. “In today’s digital world, the ability to reach our stakeholders quickly and effectively is what makes it possible for us to tell our story. Spring Hill has demonstrated that it understands what it takes to build the kind of relationships with its community that support teaching and learning.”
The Leadership Through Communication Award program is open to all school districts throughout the United States and Canada. The award will be presented at AASA’s National Conference on Education in Los Angeles, Calif., February 21-23, 2013. A $10,000 contribution will be made by Blackboard Connect to Spring Hill School District to be used for student scholarships or communication activities that benefit students and schools. District leaders will also give a panel presentation on their communication program at the AASA Conference.