The Mercer Island School District has been awarded national and state awards for excellence in communications this spring.
The district received the Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for communications related to the search for a new MISD superintendent in 2017. This award recognizes the four steps of a successful public relations program: analysis of the need, planning to meet the need, execution and communication of the program, and formal evaluation.
The first step was creating and distributing a survey to ask Islanders what qualities they would be seeking in a new leader. A timeline for engagement was created. The communications office provided outreach for the survey to thousands of parents, community leaders and organizations, teachers, staff and students. The survey garnered nearly 2,000 responses. In addition, seven well-attended in-person meetings were organized to take input from the community.
To keep the community informed and be transparent about the search, the school board met weekly in public session and accepted public comment at each meeting. Communications Coordinator Craig Degginger authored frequent electronic communications via email, Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor to families and community members to keep them apprised of the search progress, and articles in the Island’s weekly community newspaper. A superintendent search web page was created (mercerislandschools.org/superintendentsearch) and updated each week as needed with links to every meeting and documents.
“You are one of a select group of winners and we again congratulate you and the leadership of your district for being a leader in school communication,” Richard Bagin, executive director of NSPRA, said in a press release.
The district also received three Awards of Excellence from the Washington School Public Relations Association, including a Best in Category for the video “Building Character at Islander Middle School,” detailing the school’s use of different character essentials each month. Also receiving awards at both the state and national levels were videos on the District’s Fine Arts programs and the 2017 Breakfast of Champions video, “From Islanders to Pathfinders,” Tim Hamp, Island resident and MIHS alumnus, filmed and produced the videos with the communications office. The District also received a state award for the 2016-17 Annual Report.