35 Under 35 Class of 2020-21: Claudia Lemus-Campos

Claudia Lemus-CamposClaudia Lemus-Campos

Public Relations Specialist
Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District
Pharr, Texas
Twitter: @claudiavlemus @psjaisd

What does leadership mean to you?
To me,  leadership is empowering others and creating a welcoming culture where everyone feels valued and appreciated. It means leading by example by doing the right thing, for the right reasons, even when nobody's looking. It means having a growth mindset and taking advantage of every opportunity to learn and improve, even from one’s mistakes.

What was the most fulfilling professional moment you have experienced?
One special moment is a story I wrote highlighting a mother who fulfilled her dream of earning a GED at age 53 through our PSJA Parental Engagement Program. The mother's desire of helping her son with his studies fueled her drive to continue her own education. Seeing her personal story and accomplishment covered by local news outlets, who published the press release I wrote, meant so much to her that she personally called to thank me. The story led to her and her son being invited to serve as panelists during our PSJA College for All Conference and receiving a special letter from a congressman. While I have covered hundreds of stories during my time at PSJA ISD, this mother’s humility and gratitude towards us for caring enough about sharing her story serves as a  reminder of the impact our work has in our district and community. Moments like these make it all worth it!

What are the most challenging and/or rewarding parts about working in school PR?
The most rewarding part of working in school PR is having the privilege to tell impactful stories happening in the community where I grew up. I am so grateful for the opportunities I received as a student at PSJA ISD and honored to have the privilege to work here now and give back to my PSJA family by helping to highlight the work and individuals making a difference every day. On that note, the most challenging part is having enough time to do it all! We have so many amazing things happening district wide that finding time to cover it all is always a challenge.

How have NSPRA and your state chapter guided you along the way?
TSPRA and NSPRA have been invaluable to my professional growth and development. Through TSPRA I have had the privilege to network and learn from amazing individuals across the state who are just as eager and passionate about their roles. Each year I look forward to the informative sessions at the annual conference and the opportunity to represent my school district by sharing my knowledge with my peers as a presenter or by serving on a committee. I am immensely grateful for the networking, mentorship and support. Thank you TSPRA and NSPRA!

What are your favorite work and personal apps?

  • Trello is one of my absolute favorite apps! I have been using it to stay organized at work since my boss first introduced it to us when I started at PSJA ISD in 2015. On a personal level, I also used it to plan my wedding and currently to keep track of my graduate coursework.
  • Facebook is my favorite social media platform for work due to most of our stakeholders having an active presence there and engaging with our district. Personally, I use most social media apps and Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family, but lately I find myself enjoying TikTok the most, as my husband and I have been using it to successfully grow our food and travel blog.
  • This has also helped me learn to leverage TikTok on a professional level to tell our district’s stories. I absolutely love it when students and teachers comment how proud they are to see the work done in our district. The hashtag #PSJAProud on TikTok recently surpassed one million views!

What book has inspired you professionally?
A book that inspired me professionally was Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck. Our boss and fearless leader had us read it and discuss it as an opportunity for staff development for our department. I loved getting to learn about the fixed and growth mindsets and how these play a key role in our lives for success and personal fulfillment.

What is a recent communications/media campaign you enjoyed – either one of your own or one you saw nationally?
One recent campaign I loved is the PSJA ISD Centennial Celebration held during the 2019-2020 school year. It involved our PSJA Communications Department collaborating with various departments to make it happen. As part of the campaign, we hosted monthly events encouraging students, staff, parents, alumni and our community members to engage with our district.

Among my favorite events was a kickoff at the PSJA Stadium, a  sock hop dance and the first ever PSJA Family Posada. At the campus level, students learned historic information about our district thanks to the PSJA Library Services and Social Studies Departments, who embedded it into the curriculum. Although it was a lot of work, this campaign was a tremendous experience for our team and helped showcase and promote our district. It was amazing to hear people reminisce about their time at PSJA ISD and realize the significant transformation and life-changing educational opportunities it continues to offer to students.

What emerging trends in school public relations get you excited?
Digital and social media marketing are becoming more important in the realm of school PR. Social media is now ingrained in our society, and I think it is important for public school districts to embrace this as a necessary communication channel to build and improve relationships with stakeholders. We recently launched a survey to study the uses and gratifications parents in our district get from social media. Out of more than 2,300 respondents, it was insightful to find out that more than 90% of parents in our district are most active on Facebook and follow both their schools and PSJA ISD for daily updates. This research gets me so excited as it confirms the importance social media plays as an official communications channel at the campus and district level. At PSJA ISD, all 43 schools and key departments have an established official presence on Facebook, and it is an honor to realize that I played a part in helping make that happen.