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2019 Chapter Award Winners

The chair of TSPRA’s 2018-2019 Professional Awards Committee is David Hicks of Allen ISD. Other committee members include Denise Blanchard, Amarillo ISD; Julie Zwahr, Denton ISD; Tiffany Veno, Garland ISD and Kyndall Jirasek, Pflugerville ISD.

2019 Professional Achievement Award: Craig Verley, Mission CISD





“When I came into the world of school PR, I was told that if I ever had a question, I could also count on Craig and ask,” said Jim Zavala of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD. “He has shared his knowledge and experience and has always been open to new trends and change. Craig has been a mentor to TSPRA members of all levels.”

Verley was elected TSPRA’s Gulf Coast Area Vice President in 2017. He has served as TSPRA’s Social Media Chair, founded and continues to organize the charity 5K Run/Walk during the TSPRA Annual Conference and won TSPRA’s 2016 Bright Idea Award for Mission CISD’s Picture YourSelfie at College campaign. 

"The best leaders inspire us to be our best. Craig Verley certainly has this effect on his colleagues,” said Veronica Castillon, APR, of Laredo ISD. “I have always appreciated Craig’s leadership skills.”

“Craig Verley has been a leader, mentor and friend in TSPRA for me since I joined in 2010,” said Corey Ryan of Leander ISD. “Craig was a friendly face whom I relied on to find a place in the organization, both in the RGV and at the state level. When I moved to Central Texas, I continued to connect with Craig as a valued resource.”






2019 Most Valuable Member: Beth Trimble, CPC, Red Oak ISD





“Beth is a true TSPRAn at heart,” said Megan Overman, CPC, of Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. “She personifies the mission of the organization and works to improve opportunities for us all to be stronger communicators in our communities.” 

Trimble, who completed a term as one of TSPRA’s at-large vice presidents in February, was one of the first two school district communicators to join Texas Christian University’s Certified Public Communicator program in the summer of 2014. Following her lead, more than 20 TSPRA members have graduated since  2015. Trimble now serves on the CPC board, helping ensure the program continues to meet the evolving needs of TSPRA members. 

“She was instrumental in promoting and encouraging me to consider the CPC program,” said Renae Murphy, CPC, of Rockwall ISD. “As a member of the CPC advisory board, she represents TSPRA and helps guide a flourishing program to meet the needs of our profession.”

“Beth cares about professional development for TSPRA members and the ways it can deepen and expand knowledge,” said Jacqueline Lambiase, a professor at TCU’s Bob Schieffer College of Communication. “She knows the advantages and necessity of boosting the strategic thinking abilities for communicators whose jobs are hard, as they support their districts with storytelling to attract and keep students, families, great teachers, and more.”







2019 Rookie Of The Year: Emily Solis, Frenship ISD





“Her professional skill set of written and visual communication, strategic innovation and support of many district initiatives has lifted the level of our professional quality to new heights,” said Andy Penney, Frenship ISD’s Director of Public Relations and Information. 

Within six months of starting at Frenship, Solis had launched the district’s first-ever magazine, a 64-page back-to-school publication that saw more than 15,000 copies distributed. 

“All the page layouts, graphic design work and content organization were produced through her creative eye,” said Penney. “Not only did the magazine serve as a great promotional tool for us but it also included 34 business sponsorships which Emily secured totaling $27,200. The final product generated more than $13,000 in net revenue for our department.”

She revitalized Frenship’s Homecoming celebration, partnering with the Chamber of Commerce to turn a football game into a three-day celebration including a community dinner, alumni golf tournament, parade and street dance, including fireworks. 







2019 Bright Idea Award: North East ISD



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North East ISD receives the award in recognition of its Meals for Shields program, which seeks to improve police-community relations by offering a free lunch to area police officers visiting district elementary schools.

“We want to show the kids that the officers are their friends,” said North East ISD Chief of Police Wallace McCampbell. “We want to make them safe and we want them to be able to come to us when they have a question or a problem.”

Officers participating must be in uniform when they check in at the front office. They go through the lunch line with students and sit at tables with them to eat their meals. 

The benefits of the program are twofold: Students grow more familiar with law enforcement in their communities, and those officers gain insights into how schools operate that could keep students safer in an emergency situation.  





2019 Media Award: Deborah Knapp - KENS-5

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In 1999, Knapp launched the KENS 5 Excel Award, which recognizes an outstanding public school teacher from each of San Antonio’s 19 local school districts. Recipients of the Excel Award receive a $1,000 check thanks to a partnership with Credit Human and are featured in a broadcast on KENS 5.


“She is more than a news anchor who shares the public education news,” said Patti Pawlik-Perales, Communications Coordinator at Alamo Heights ISD. “She is a friend, a supporter and someone who seeks to shine the light and focus on all that is good about public educators and education.”

In 1994, Knapp established a scholarship to her alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, awarded to a San Antonio student who has demonstrated a commitment to community. She serves on the boards of the Boy Scouts of America and the Old Spanish Missions, the organization that restores and maintains San Antonio’s historic Mission churches. She has received the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the FBI for her years of community involvement and has been inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. 






2019 Partner in Public Education Award: Fred Markham



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“The Texas Pioneer Foundation has provided resources to build the impact and capacity of hundreds of education foundations, said Laurie Cromwell, President of Foundation Innovation. “Those foundations have in turn become the charity of choice for education and have raised millions of dollars for Texas public school programs.“

The common theme throughout Markham’s work is boosting education foundations not merely through a one-time donation, but by increasing their ability to go out and secure many more donations. Texas Pioneer Foundation awards grants to bring in experts to assist new foundations just starting up or dormant ones in need of a jump start.

In 2012, the Texas Pioneer Foundation launched the Texas Education Foundation Network, which has provided networking opportunities, training and resources and a forum to share best practices for Texas education foundations via regional trainings and an annual conference that is free for all TEFN members. 

“Fred Markham is a true visionary,” said Suzi Pagel, Director of Corporate and Community Development for the Midway ISD Education Foundation. “He sees the potential for education foundations to not only build capacity in funding the public schools, but also to serve as a bridge between the public schools, parents, staff, and those who may not be directly connected with the public schools in their community. Our schools and our education foundations are all stronger because of the work of this humble, generous man. “