Cortny Martin - 35 Under 35

35 Under 35 Class of 2018-19

Cortny is one  of 35 professionals, age 35 and under, who makes up the Class of 2018-19.These 35 individuals are emerging leaders who are making a difference in school public relations.

Cortny Martin
North Thurston Public Schools
Lacey, Wash.

What does leadership mean to you?
Inspiring others to be the best version of themselves!

What was the most fulfilling professional moment you have experienced?
I oversee our district’s Partners in Education (P.I.E.) Program where we partner local businesses/organizations with our schools and they participate in activities such as mentoring and guest speaking. It was a special day when I found all 22 of our schools a P.I.E. Partner as we have many students in our district who come from rough home lives and so it’s important that they know there are people in the community who want to help them succeed. The more community support we have the better for our kids and the program has grown so much, we now have over 50 P.I.E. Partners!

What are the most challenging and/or rewarding part about working in school PR?
The most challenging part is that things can change with a drop of a hat and you have to be able to roll with it. An example of this would be a school crisis, in which case you drop everything to be able to manage the communications for the incident and help however you can. I’m a very organized person who likes structure and having a routine/plan so I’ve learned over the years to embrace the chaos.

So many rewarding parts! I’ll pick a couple to share. The obvious one, is that I get to promote education and student success. It doesn’t get much better than that. There are so many great stories to share about what our students are doing and I am so proud to be a part of a school district, were we intentionally promote and teach compassion to our students, staff and community. I believe students today are going change the world for the better!
The second most rewarding part about this job are the relationships you build with your boss, co-workers, principals, teachers and community members. It really is a wonderful thing to see so many people come together for such a great cause!

What’s your favorite work app and personal app?
We mostly use the Facebook and Instagram apps to communicate with parents and students. Facebook is definitely having its issues these days, but since that is where most of our parents are we have to keep using it to connect with them. Instagram has a lot of interactive features that I am still learning about, but am excited to start using to make our stories and photos more fun and engaging for parents and students.  

For personal apps, I enjoy Instagram and Pinterest just for fun and to check out and unwind in the evening as well as My Fitness Pal as health and fitness are very important to me.

What book has inspired you professionally?
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is a personal favorite and was recommended to me by my boss who is someone I truly admire. I am all for empowering women and that’s what this book is all about. It also really opened my eyes to the issue of inequality between men and women in the workforce which I knew was still happening, but not to this extent. It’s such an iconic time right now, seeing so many strong women taking on leadership roles and standing up for what’s right. Very inspiring!
How has NSPRA and your state chapter guided you along the way?

My state chapter WSPRA, has been so supportive over the years. They are like a family to me. I think because we are all like-minded people who are going through similar trials and tributes we can really relate to each other and it’s so refreshing to get to connect with them. If I need any advice, suggestions or information, I know I can email any of them and they will be there with a helping hand. I had the wonderful honor of being on the WSPRA board for two years where I learned so much and grew professionally from having great role models and mentors.

NSPRA offers a wealth of resources that I have benefitted from over the years, from the array of webinars offered to the e-newsletters to the annual conferences.

What is a recent communications/media campaign you enjoyed – either one of your own or one you saw nationally?

I am very proud of our district’s Compassionate Learning Community campaign, which has been around since 2015. It’s important that we teach our youth valuable skills such as reading, writing, math and problem solving, but it is almost more important in my opinion to teach them how to be compassionate global citizens and treat others with respect. We can always use more compassion, especially in the world we live in today.

What emerging trends in school public relations get you excited?
The emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusion! Our district’s theme this year is, “Everyone Belongs,” with a big focus on equity. It breaks my heart to know that there are kids out there that do not feel accepted or part of their school or community. With the political rhetoric in our country continuing to grow more divisive we need to continue to keep breaking down these barriers that separate people and celebrate the differences among our students and staff.