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John Villarreal, Ed.D., Named 2023 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communication Award Recipient

Author: NSPRA Staff/Thursday, June 15, 2023/Categories: News

John Villarreal, Ed.D., Named 2023 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communication Award Recipient

Congratulations to Rockwall (Texas) Independent School District Superintendent John Villarreal, Ed.D., for his selection as the 2023 recipient of NSPRA's Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award! The award recognizes one district leader annually for their outstanding leadership in and support of school public relations and communications. It is given in memory of Robert L. Grossman, ASPR, an NSPRA past president who believed that the support and commitment of our top education leaders is vital to successful school communication. 

This year, NSPRA received a record number of nominations for district leaders from around the United States.

Since his arrival as superintendent in 2016, Dr. Villarreal’s focus on improved communication with district staff, students and community has established an important foundation of trust and authenticity. A proponent of open and transparent communication, he is overseeing implementation of the district’s newly adopted 2023-2028 strategic plan with five goal areas, one of which is communications and the desire to “partner with our community to enhance the learner experience.” The value he places on communications is further underscored by the role of communication director being a cabinet-level position.

During Dr. Villarreal’s tenure, the district has established a number of strategic communication-focused programs and opportunities to encourage input and feedback from the school community. Following are just a few examples:

  • Staff “Lunch’n’Listen” sessions,
  • A Parent Leadership Academy that provides families and parents with an inside look at district planning and programming,
  • A Silver Club for senior citizen community members aimed at encouraging engagement and involvement,
  • “Howdy Y'all” coffee gatherings designed to provide parents new to the state with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about Texas public schools and the district, and
  • Monthly “Keeping it Real” meetings with leaders of parent-teacher groups.

In addition, the Rockwall Safe program was recently implemented to provide parents with the most accurate information regarding school safety events at each campus.

“Dr. Villarreal wants to reach people where they are,” said Linda Mitchell Duran, president of the RISD Board of Trustees, in her letter of support for the nomination. “More importantly, he is always open to new and innovative ideas to communicate better. Through normal times and difficult times, Dr. Villarreal has established and promoted open, honest and transparent communication to our community stakeholders.”

Dr. Villarreal will be honored at the NSPRA 2023 National Seminar during the General Session on Tuesday, July 18, at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.  

“The award selection committee was impressed with Dr. Villarreal’s commitment to ensuring that strategic communication is a top priority for his district,” said NSPRA Executive Director Barbara M. Hunter, APR. “We’re proud to recognize his passion for championing effective communications and authentic public engagement.”


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