Please Wait a Moment

2023-24 NSPRA Front-Runner: Meghan Baule

NSPRA Front-Runners are members identified by the NSPRA Executive Board as emerging leaders who are doing outstanding work for their schools, their chapters and for NSPRA. The annual distinction recognizes four members, each from a different NSPRA region.

Meghan BauleMeghan Baule 
Director of Communications
Colchester School District
Colchester, Vt.
NSPRA Northeast Region

I believe school PR/communications is an opportunity. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to have thriving students and happy employees. Sometimes it's shocking to me how undervalued strategic communication can be! When our profession is valued and prioritized, we are empowered to connect our community with information, transparency, positivity and pride.

My greatest school PR success was when I realized nearly every employee in my district knew me or at least knew of me. It sounds vain writing that, but I don't say it to win any popularity contests (and that would insinuate they all like me! Ha!). I've been hustling since day one to prove the worth of my job, which I took very personally. Every passed budget, shared social media post, snazzy newsletter, timely crisis incident message - it all mattered and it all added up; like water in a bucket. Over time, people in my district began to realize the impact that effective communication could have in their classroom, their school, their district and our community. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point, I was not only a practitioner but also serving as an advisor and mentor. Becoming a resource and providing space for people to understand the value of what, how and when they say important things to their community has been incredibly fulfilling.

My greatest school PR challenge was balancing work and life. I am a perfectionist who is incredibly passionate about strategic communication and I absolutely love a good debrief... on anything and everything. Dissecting what I would adjust in hindsight with a cup of coffee and my superintendent is my idea of the perfect Monday morning. When COVID hit, it was 24/7. Like many, I became an overnight authority on contact tracing, line lists and infectious periods. Ever-changing guidance and the battering ram of the public were constant. As we've transitioned back to "normal," I often struggle to pivot out of work mode. At any given time I feel like someone from the district might urgently need me, so I make myself always available. The thing is, I'm just as passionate about my family, children and friends. Sometimes at the end of the day, it can feel all-consuming. I know many can relate.

My favorite part of my job is collaborating and commiserating. The beauty of this profession is that no district or community is identical. Whether your district is big or small, you're a one-person shop or a department of 10, there is nothing like that feeling of being with folks who "get" you. I love connecting with other school communication professionals and hearing how they're succeeding and what they're overcoming. It helps me to walk back through the doors of my schools and find new ways to tell the story my community deserves to hear.

The communication tool I use the most is my car! Good old Penny takes me all over my district. I like phone and email, but nothing beats showing up in person. Sometimes I'm at a school for an event, but often I'm just there to pop around. I stop and chat with everyone from the front office to the cafeteria and classrooms. It's important to me to have a pulse of the school and district to make sure what I'm curating back in my office is in line with the actual experiences happening in our schools. Oh.. and Canva - who can even live without Canva?!

Anisa Sullivan Jimenez

Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, APR
Director of Communications
Oconee County Schools
Watkinsville, Ga.

Alma Mater:

B.A. - Mississippi State University; MPA - University of Georgia

I believe school PR/communications is what I was born to do! One of the biggest decisions a parent can make is where to send their child to school, and it’s an honor to share with our parents the engaging work that their children are doing under the guidance of world-class teachers and leaders. On any given day, in any given school, there are many stories to be told and I take that charge seriously. As school communicators played a key role in COVID-19 communications, storytelling was more important than ever – not only did I share information with parents about our protocols, but I also made over 80 visits to schools last year and told a variety of stories about how students were thriving with both in-person and distance learning options. I also worked with principals to determine best mitigation practices and helped make those pervasive, because positive action must be the foundation of what we are ultimately communicating. School public relations is incredibly complex and I love that each day brings a new challenge.

My greatest school PR success was completing 11 nationally-innovative school communication audits using a process of research, planning, implementation, and evaluation. I am now in phase two of this project and am attending school council meetings to garner feedback from parents about school-level communication and how I can better support the work of their schools. One of the most significant findings is that as students take more ownership of their learning, they also take more ownership in parent communication. Therefore, next steps are to better prepare parents for this transition and to also determine best practices from exemplar teachers and coaches at the secondary level so we can strike the right balance with parents feeling informed and fostering student independence.

My greatest school PR challenge is overcoming rigidity. Like many PR professionals, I am detail-oriented and a self-described perfectionist. It’s a blessing and a curse to see when something is one pixel off, but the greatest challenge I have faced in my 13 years in this field is to learn to be more flexible. I might have an aversion to Comic Sans or Curlz, but it’s not the end of the world if those are a font favorite elsewhere. What’s more important is the bigger picture – staff and parents feeling well-informed and students growing and learning in positive school cultures. Instead of telling someone their website isn’t formatted properly, I now make a 2-3 minute screencast if I think there’s a quick tutorial I can offer to provide ongoing professional learning. By being much more flexible, I have deepened relationships and become better at supporting the most important job that occurs in our school system: teaching.

My favorite part of my job is the relationships. I often say that there is no substitute for showing up, and that’s why I make so many school visits each year. From getting to hold a gorgeous monarch butterfly to watching a vibrant student musical to seeing 3-D printing in action from engineering students, I have witnessed countless unique opportunities, and these experiences are just a small piece of what our students get to take part in each and every day. If I didn’t take the time to form relationships, I wouldn’t know that what students value is knowing that the photos I take may show up in their yearbooks. I wouldn’t know the myriad of annual activities that teachers do across our schools because I wouldn’t have witnessed them firsthand. I wouldn’t know about the families of our principals or what they believe makes their school unique. All of that is invaluable because at the end of the day and at the end of this career, relationships are what will remain – both professionally and personally.

The communication tool I use the most is Canva! I would be a brand ambassador if they asked! I am not very mathematically-minded and it can be challenging for someone with an eye for good design – but not an eye for rulers and gridlines – to be a graphic designer. However, Canva has made it possible and I am able to create aesthetically-pleasing graphics with short turn-around times. I have trained communication ambassadors at our schools how to use it as well. Right after Canva, the tool I most use is iMovie. I am completely self-taught in videography and using iMovie and Canva together has made me someone who can add “videographer” to their list of expertise.