California educators honored for communication excellence

When four North Sacramento area school districts merged in 2007, they formed a new district of 27,000 students in 54 schools, covering 120 square miles. Many of the parents and students affected by the merger had questions and doubts about the new organization. Would the unified district provide the same quality education and attention they were used to? Would students have to switch schools? What other changes would the students face?

In acknowledgment of its success in responding to such concerns, the Twin Rivers Unified School District has been named the 2010 recipient of the Leadership through Communication Award. The award recognizes Frank S. Porter, superintendent, and Trinette Marquis, communications officer, for demonstrating exemplary leadership in the enhancement of school-to-parent communication within their school system and the communities they serve.

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech applauded Twin Rivers USD for taking a leadership role. "Twin Rivers USD has created an effective communication program and a new vision for student success by engaging families, staff, students and the community, and using a forward-thinking, strategic approach to communication throughout the school system," said Domenech.

The judges for this year's program noted that Twin Rivers USD overcame great obstacles to bring four disparate school systems together as a single district. They cited the following three elements as key components of the consolidation effort:

  • Twin Rivers USD led local communities to imagine the future instead of dwelling on the past.
  • They created a communication model that included measurable results, face-to-face communication and a vision for expanding ways to communicate.
  • They showed parents and community the benefits of their vision for the future of the schools and their children's education.

"Twin Rivers USD faced a major communication challenge as part of consolidating four school districts into one. It is a great case study on how to communicate well in challenging times," said Rich Bagin, APR, NSPRA executive director.

The Leadership through Communication Award program is jointly sponsored by AlertNow, the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), and 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 Phoenix, Arizona on February 13, 2010. A $10,000 contribution will be made by AlertNow to Twin Rivers USD 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.