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2017 Chapter Award Winners

The chair of TSPRA’s 2016-2017 Professional Awards Committee is Charlotte LaGrone; Weatherford ISD. Other committee members include Julie Zwahr, Denton ISD; Craig Eichhorn, APR, Alief ISD; Andy Penney, Frenship ISD, Suzi Pagel, CFRE, Midway ISD/EF and Lyndall Gathright, Corpus Christi ISD

2017 Professional Achievement Award: Veronica Sopher; Fort Bend ISD


Professional Achievement recipient Veronica Sopher, with Relatrix's Mark Franke



"She is the “go to” person for all area members. Veronica has mentored numerous TSPRANs and she is always there to answer questions, share resources, brainstorm ideas and offer advice, especially to area members who have never experienced the things she has.

"She most recently led the effort that culminated in Leander ISD winning the 2016 H-E-B Excellence in Education Large District $100K Award earlier this year. Veronica spearheaded the campaign through strategic planning and a focus on telling the LISD story.

"Veronica comes from a long-line of public education advocates and she knows how important it is to get the media to cover a story about a seemingly small story about a student’s achievement, or a teacher’s new program. Veronica knows how important it is for principals and receptionist to have talking points to share with frustrated or confused parents. Veronica knows how important it is for parents to understand the process of a school program in their native language. She knows how important it is for the Board to have all of the facts to help govern and set policy. She knows how important it is for legislators to have quick data at their fingertips before they cast their vote on the House or Senate floor. Veronica knows that parents make the strongest and most compelling advocates. She knows this because she has spent the last 13 years in school public relations doing just that. And more importantly, she is sharing that with other TSPRANs, which only benefits more students across the state."






2017 Most Valuable Member: Patti Pawlik-Perales, Alamo Heights ISD


TSPRA President Ian Halperin, awards committee representative Craig Eichhorn, Most Valuable Member Patti Pawlik-Perales and West's A.J. Morgan.



"As president of TSPRA in 2013-2014, Patti was a people’s president. Her ease of being with everyone, no matter their geographic location in the state, or what they did at their organization, was apparent. When she talked to you, you knew that you were her priority and she focused on you – no matter the distractions around. That is a skillset that not every PR person possesses.

Although Patti is no longer on the TSPRA Board, she continues to be a cheerleader for all of us. She is someone who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk in support her professional organization. No matter the situation, Patti is always the first to volunteer, and is the one who organizes gifts and recognitions for anyone – no matter what the milestone or occasion."






2017 Rookie Of The Year: Kim Cathey, Floresville ISD


Awards committee representative Lyndall Gathright, Rookie of the Year Kim Cathey and O'Connell Robertson's Amy Jones..



"Two weeks later, this school PR Rookie, who had just created the district’s first-ever
Communications “Department” (a department of one), had her district’s only high school hit by
a a tornado. With the district website down and limited power in the small town of Floresville,
she managed all communications to the community regarding closures and day to day
operations and the numerous changes that were occurring hourly. All students and teachers 
were relocated to temporary classrooms in practice gyms and portable buildings.

"Considering the amount of communication that is required for students, parents and staff, coupled with the requests from media, one can only imagine the work load for this rookie! Yet, she managed it all, keeping a focus on the positive!

"As buildings were rebuilt, roofs repaired, and students and teachers moved back in to the buildings and a more “normal” routine, our Rookie continued to work toward promoting her schools and district in the best light."






2017 Bright Idea Award: K-TOR Radio; Galveston ISD

ElementarySchoolMate Bright Idea web

and Elementary Schoolmate's Rick Hill with Bright Idea recipient Michael Dudas of Galveston ISD .

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"This new creative endeavor and community partnership is one of the most unique projects within a high school setting.  Since the show’s inception last September, the guest list has included members from the local City Council, representatives from the Parks Board, a local realtor, two editors from the local newspaper, the District’s superintendent, Ball High School’s principal, and many other representatives from local businesses and community organizations.  We were thrilled at the overwhelming eagerness for guests to participate. It was a general consensus by the guests after their particular appearances, that all were truly amazed that high school students were producing a professional radio talk program within an educational setting.  Many of our guests have become new community partners and friends.  Needless to say, Michael’s “bright idea” is an innovative hook to get the movers and shakers of the community onto the high school campus!

"Michael’s original “bright idea” of a weekly radio show featuring the happenings around the school, District, and local community has now quickly, in just a few short months, grown into a 24/7 internet radio station. To say the least, this endeavor is quite unusual within an educational setting. It takes a tremendous amount of innovative thinking, inventive planning, and collaborative design that links the outside community to our District’s Ball High School."






2017 Media Award: Chris Saldaña, KEYE-TV CBS Austin


Blackboard's Lindsey Fishback and Lawrence Coleman with Media Award winner Chris Saldaña, anchor with KEYE-TV CBS Austin



"As a school public relations professional, it is exhausting mitigating stories like the shigella virus, students bringing weapons to school and teacher misconduct to name a few. I can always count on Chris to promote the mission of public education: students learning new things in engaging environments.

"Ultimately, Chris truly cares about the work he does. When he arrives to film in the morning at our schools he is constantly smiling, filled with energy and eager to interact with our students. Based on his level of energy, it is always hard to believe that he begins his workday around 3 a.m."