Frank Shelton-35 Under 35

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

Frank Shelton
Knox County Public Schools
Barbourville, Ky.

What does leadership mean to you? 
Leadership is having a vision and relentlessly pursuing it until accomplished. In that, you will discover your “zone” where you do your best work. The leader must invest in followers that share the vision to be a part of the team that the leader can call upon, delegate to, and allow those to shine in their own “zone”. Together, this is how the work gets done and together everyone shines.

What was the most fulfilling professional moment you have experienced? 
Being selected among the 35 under 35 for NSPRA is certainly at the top of the list. Locally, it is seeing former students when I was teaching or co-op students who worked in our public relations office graduate and pursue a degree in some field that is connected to what they learned. Some of those students awarded me with a “Green Leaf award” which is presented by the high school’s top students to the teacher that inspired them most during high school. Today, I have former students in New York directing productions, working in photography for news, and for Federal Government in visual design. There are also doctors and nurses and many others that have graduated from my program and went on to be professionals in their field.

What are the most challenging and/or rewarding part about working in school PR? 

The most challenging part of public relations is staying on top of all of the good things happening in our district. We were blessed to receive a federal Promise Neighborhood grant, Save the Children initiative, and Gear Up college and career readiness programs which have expanded the number of activities and opportunities for enrichment. Each grant has specific requirements for communications, which makes it difficult sometimes to share the news in a timely manner.

The most rewarding part of the job is capturing smiles and special moments when students win awards, participate in projects, or receive other recognition. The spotlight goes beyond the student as it makes their entire family shine.

What's your favorite work app and personal app?

I have lots of favorite work apps, but the Gmail app is my new best friend.  With their scheduling feature, I can write emails anytime of the day or night and schedule when they will send.  I hated sending emails on the weekend when stuff popped into my mind, now I write it up and schedule it for the work week.  

Personal app is the YouVersion bible app.  I recently started using the Headspace app after recommendation from NSPRA’s own Catherine Kedjidjian, APR. ​


What book has inspired you professionally? 

Too many books.  After hearing Kindra Hall speak at the NSPRA Seminar, I was lucky enough to be selected as a member of her launch team which gave me an advance copy of Stories that Stick.  It has really changed the way I am presenting information about the school district.

Prior to meeting Kindra, Andy Stanley’s Next Generation Leader and Making Vision Stick.  Although a pastor in Atlanta, Stanley’s writings can be applied to leaders in all professions.  He has great leadership tips on building community and buy-in.  

How has NSPRA and your state chapter guided you along the way? 

NSPRA has provided valuable resources through the bookstore and now through the online community.  NSPRA Connect is becoming a go to resource for just about any project idea or situation we face in the field.

The Kentucky chapter has provided many great conferences, award programs, and networking opportunities. I have recently been appointed by the President to serve on our affiliate organization, Kentucky Association of School Administrators, as a KYSPRA representative.  In the future I look forward to more leadership involvement in our state chapter.   

You can sometimes feel isolated in school public relations, but the state and national organization is an opportunity to network and know that others face the same battles and have the same questions as you. #k12prchat and #k12prwell are quite awesome too! 

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

A few years ago the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team (GO BBN!) was undefeated going into the NCAA Tournament in March.  At the same time we launched a “Pursuit of Perfection” attendance campaign challenging everyone to be at school all month and to wear their blue and white on UK game days.   Unfortunately, UK lost in the Final Four – but our students won because we celebrated all of those with perfect attendance during the tournament.  Local businesses donated t-shirts and other UK merchandise and one student won a gift basket that was filled with items including a basketball.  The whole community was involved by the end of the season and campaign.  We used social media to tie attendance to success in sports,  such as making the team, being there for your team, learning together, etc. 

What emerging trends in school public relations get you excited? 

Technology is becoming more affordable and schools are being able to tell their own story using students.  Once it required me scheduling a time to go out to the school and haul equipment to take photos, record video, then come back to the office and process.  That has been replaced with my iPhone and accessories (thanks to all the colleagues who provided reviews and suggestions).  My role is changing as I focus attention on the district’s strategic initiatives, state and national student champions, and the stories of our faculty and staff that make Knox County Public Schools a great place to work and learn.