Friday Breakout Sessions

9:15 - 10:15 a.m.


Engaging Boomer, GenX, and Millennial Parents Using New Research

Steve Ostler and Chris Prince, Blackboard; Marie Russell, Turlock USD

20,000 parents across the U.S. spoke up about their school-to-home communication preferences. Their unique outlook only gets more interesting as you break down their needs across the three generations present at your district. Join this session to hear brand new data from Project Tomorrow’s Annual Speak Up Research Initiative and the significant implications it has on your strategy for engaging with parents.


How to be Indispensable Without Burning Your Superhero Cape

Heather McGowan, APR, Sounding Board Marketing; Jamie Hansen, APR, Sonoma COE; Tim Herrera, Sacramento COE; Naomi Hunter, APR, Naomi Hunter Communications; Marci McFadden, Monterey Peninsula USD; Daniel Thigpen, Folsom Cordova USD 

Communication professionals increasingly bear the burdens of their organization’s stress. With endless demands your time and expertise, how can you keep the wildfires of stress and anxiety under control so you don’t burn out? Learn from fellow professionals how to: Identify burnout and its causes, how “The Busy Syndrome” + “Imposter Syndrome” = huge roles in feeding burn-out, set boundaries and make room for self care, use coping mechanisms to protect your overall health, use a “see saw” approach versus “balance” mindset, be indispensable as a leader vs. being everything for everyone, rewrite the script to avoid burnout.


Navigating Change Through Communication

Kim Richards, Founder, Leading with Clarity

From leadership visioning to day-to-day operations and classroom interactions, communication is at the core of everything we do in schools. It has the power to make or break culture, connect staff and students, and keep families engaged. Yet it’s rare that we talk about it explicitly. This interactive workshop will give you the chance to do that by navigating a current challenge you’re facing through a different lens. You’ll challenge your assumptions about communication, leverage your strengths as a leader, and walk away with a new perspective and action steps you can take tomorrow.


10:30 - 11:30 a.m.


School PR 101

Trinette Marquis, APR, SchoolPRPro

Whether you're new to the position or just want to refresh your perspective, this session will provide a framework for how to approach strategic communication. We'll explore a variety of tactics and strategies under each of the four PR steps and discuss our best tips for crisis communication, media relations, and employee morale. You'll leave the session with new ideas you'll be able to put to work immediately to improve communication efforts in your district or county office. 


Strategic Thinking: How To Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

Rolando Bonilla, JD, Voler Strategic Advisors

This session will focus on the political and strategic thinking required during moments of crisis. In the school PR space, a crisis is guaranteed to occur every year. How a district deals with a crisis in its first few minutes will determine how soon the district will be out of the situation. I will share tips that will assist you and your organization when navigating the next crisis.


Data, Disruption, and Demographics: How School Ratings are Contributing to Racial Isolation in Our Schools 

Naomi Hunter, APR, Naomi Hunter Communications; Stephen Nichols, APR, Communication Resources for Schools; Anthony Millican, Chula Vista ESD

The use of school ratings is eroding the commitment to the common good that has been at the center of our nation’s public education system. Parents use ratings to choose schools, and real estate companies embed ratings into listings. Few consider the consequence. Research shows that an over-reliance on ratings is contributing to school re-segregation. Racial bias, economic anxiety, and fears about school safety are feeding a reliance on ratings. These factors will be analyzed along with the connection between racial segregation and poor educational outcomes, poverty and low test scores, and school funding systems that disadvantage poor and minority students. School leaders can re-shape the dialogue about school quality.


1:15 - 2:15 p.m.


Changing Negative Narrative Through Media Relations: Our Journey to ABC 20/20 with Diane Sawyer

David Vannasdall, Ed.D. and Ryan Foran, Arcadia USD

Getting yourself or your superintendent prepared for the big interview has never been more important. This session will detail how Arcadia Unified School District Chief Communications Officer Ryan Foran, worked with Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall, to prepare him to make his first national television appearance on ABC 20/20 with Diane Sawyer for a special on transgender rights featuring Caitlyn Jenner that was seen by more than 4 million viewers. The preparation for the appearance required a meticulous media relations plan that included mock interviews, talking points, and difficult conversations with stakeholders. Learn how to properly take negative media narratives back and own your story. 


What gets Measured gets Valued: Building the Case for Effective Communication

Trinette Marquis, APR, SchoolPRPro

District communicators have one of the toughest jobs in a school community, but most people are not very aware of the role they play or the work that gets done behind the scenes- beyond the video, the website, the on-air interview, or the enewsletter. Using a combination of creative measures, powerful stories, and accessible reporting tools, you can secure the future of the communication function as well as make the case for growing the department even in tough financial times.


Social Media Training for Leadership and Teachers

Matthew Jennings and Dakota Allen, Oceanside USD

In this electronic and digital age, more and more stakeholders are getting their news and information directly from social media. Administrators, teachers, and counselors have the opportunity to interact and create relationships with their communities directly through social media. If this is done correctly you enhance and build your brand. If done poorly you could damage your reputation at best. You will leave this session with a presentation and tools to assist in training your leadership team and certificated staff on how to best leverage social media tools in legal, engaging, and responsible ways!


3:45 - 4:45 p.m.


State of the State

Kindra Britt, California Department of Education

Although it’s not always top of mind, politics play a huge part in how education is funded, and how policy is implemented down to the school site level after passing through the legislature. This time of year is so busy in Sacramento, the epicenter of the political side of education. Come to this session to learn about the priorities and initiatives for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as the California Department of Education. Get an inside peek to the 2020 legislative season, and items that could eventually impact your work after passing through the legislature.


Breaking Down Silos with Communications

Tim Herrera, Sacramento County Office of Education

Like many organizations, school districts struggle to fulfill their vision because of the “Silo Mentality”. It’s the reluctance to share information with employees of different departments in the same organization. The Silo Mentality prevents communication, and reduces efficiency and trust. That interferes with success. SCOE Communications Director Tim Herrera will share practices adopted by large organizations, as well as his county office, that are designed to break down silos. This workshop is also an opportunity for attendees to share what their districts are doing to break down silos with communications. 


One-Pagers 101: Creating Engaging One-Pagers and Handouts with Google Slides

Michelle Smith McDonald and Phil Grasso, Alameda County Office of Education 

This session will introduce participants to how Google Slides, a common tool used by districts, can be used as an effective and collaborative graphic design and layout tool for both print and digital media. We will walk step by step through the generation of a one-page handout from concept to execution as well as showcase other graphic and print products that can be created using Google Slides. The hands-on session will cover technical and conceptual aspects of creating public-facing materials, as well as the philosophy and execution behind how best to capture text information in graphic form in readable and engaging ways.


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