NSPRA National Seminar: Pre-Seminar Workshops

Attend a pre-Seminar workshop to maximize your professional learning opportunities during the NSPRA 2019 National Seminar! Half-day, full-day and two-day workshops are available on topics of interest to both new and seasoned school public relations professionals. These in-depth, information-packed, hands-on workshops offer extended learning opportunities to early birds who want to make the most of their Seminar experience. Those who register for pre-Seminar workshops and the National Seminar also receive discounted registration rates on pre-Seminar workshops.

Register online now for pre-Seminar workshops or download and submit a paper registration form (PDF). Please note that online registration for a pre-Seminar workshop is processed separately from online registration for the National Seminar.   

One-Day Workshops

Half-Day Workshops

Two-Day Workshops

Cancellation Policy: For pre-Seminar workshops, 25 percent of the workshop fee is nonrefundable for cancellations received by May 18. For cancellations received from May 19 - June 8, 50 percent of the workshop fee is nonrefundable. After June 8, no refunds are available. If a workshop is canceled by NSPRA due to low enrollment, its registrants may enroll in a different, similarly priced workshop of their choosing.


One-Day Workshop Descriptions


Strategic Planning for the One-person Communications Office

Are you flying solo in your school district? During this workshop, school public relations practitioners who operate a one-person department will develop and improve their strategic communications plans, as well as their knowledge base and skill sets, with guidance based on the award-winning work of the Missouri School Public Relations Association. Participants will collaborate, organize and write their plan following the four-step strategic communications planning process. Breakout discussions will cover topics requested by participants such as effective and efficient work flow, crisis communications, social media trends, internal engagement and more. This session is appropriate for both new and experienced school PR professionals looking for support in crafting and refining their communication plans. Participants should bring their laptops and any existing communications plans and district strategic plans, so that they can put what they learn to work immediately for their districts.

When: Saturday, July 13, from 9 AM - 4 PM

Registration Fee: $329 (discount rate if also registering for National Seminar; $379 otherwise)

What to bring: Laptop, any existing communications plans and strategic plans for your district

Presenters: Erica Chandler, APR; Jill Filer; Stephanie Smith, APR; Kelly Wachel, APR

Erica Chandler, APR  Jill Filer  Stephanie Smith  Kelly Wachel, APR

Erica Chandler, APR, is the director of communications for Affton School District in St. Louis, Mo. She has been working in school public relations for seven years, with an additional 12 years spent in concert and entertainment PR and marketing. Erica is active in the community and serves as the secretary for the Affton Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves as the secretary of the Missouri School Public Relations Association and was the recipient of the MOSPRA Tina Zubeck Spirit Award in 2018. She has presented at numerous regional, state and national conferences.

Jill Filer is the director of communications and community relations for the Harrisonville School District in Harrisonville, Mo.  She has 26 years of experience in public education, first as a high school journalism teacher for eight years and then 18 more in her current position. She has served as the president of the Missouri School Public Relations Association and was the recipient of the MOSPRA Professional of the Year Award in 2013 and the MOSPRA Tina Zubeck Spirit Award in 2015. Jill was named an NSPRA Front-Runner. She has presented at numerous regional, state and national conferences.

Stephanie Smith, APR, is the director of public relations for the Fort Osage R-1 School District. She has been with Fort Osage for 15 years. Stephanie is very active in the community, including being the past president of the Eastern Independence Rotary, past Buckner Chamber of Commerce president, and serves on various non-profit committees. She is the past president of the Missouri School Public Relations Association and was named the MOSPRA Professional of the Year in 2016. She has presented at numerous regional, state and national conferences.    

Kelly Wachel, APR, is the executive director of public relations for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, a suburban community in the Kansas City region. She has public relations experience in the corporate financial services sector and has served in the school public relations role for the past 14 years. Kelly is a published school public relations author of two books, published in conjunction with NSPRA. She has presented at several national, regional and state conferences. She has served in differing roles with the Missouri School Public Relations Association and is the MOSPRA President-Elect.

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Work Smarter with Adobe Creative Suite: Best Practices for Print Production

Maximize your Adobe Creative Suite tools skillset to avoid problems at the printer and take your layout to the next level with valuable time-saving tips from a graphic designer and a communications manager who work with school communications professionals—like you—every day! This hands-on workshop is geared toward individuals with basic to intermediate skill-level using Adobe InDesign. This training will also touch upon Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator skills associated with formatting photos and creating charts to use in your print publications. (While this session is focused on print production, many of the skills will translate to digital materials.)

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Avoid the dreaded missing font;
  • Lock and load with layers;
  • Edit your characters, paragraphs and objects in style;
  • Use cool shortcuts to place, size and format photos;
  • Boost photo quality with basic Photoshop sharpening and adjustment tools;
  • Jazz up charts and graphs;
  • Switch the swatch—global time-saving color changes;
  • Quickly align frames and images for a neat layout; and
  • Wrap it up with separations check, spell check, and file package.

When: Saturday, July 13, from 9 AM - 4 PM

Registration Fee: $329 (discount rate if also registering for National Seminar; $379 otherwise) 

What to bring: A laptop is required (MAC or Windows PC), and the Adobe Creative Suite (Adobe CC2015 or higher) must be pre-loaded on your laptop beforehand. Training materials will be provided to registrants via Dropbox prior to the session.

Presenters: Bonnie Minick, Erin McNulty

Bonnie Minick  Erin McNulty

Bonnie Minick has been a member of the Capital Region BOCES Communications Service since 1992. With a degree in advertising design, Bonnie spent 10 years of her career working for a New York-based newspaper group and a New York-based advertising agency. In her current role as graphic designer, she coordinates award-winning print and digital media projects from concept to completion for many school districts and other educational organizations. In addition, she develops and implements team training materials to assist colleagues with professional growth while continually learning to keep her own skills current with the ever-changing technology.

Erin McNulty has been a member of the Capital Region BOCES Communications Service since 2004. While her degree is in graphic design, Erin spent 10 years of her career working as a communications specialist in public schools in New York state. Now, in her current role as communications manager, she enjoys supporting production staff and communications professionals so that they can continue to grow their skills and meet the needs of their clients.

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DIY Communication Research: Yes You Can!

You want your communication efforts to be data-driven, but don’t have the funds to hire an outside firm to conduct stakeholder research or evaluate your efforts. This workshop will help you gain the knowledge and confidence to lead effective quantitative and qualitative research efforts that will ensure you are engaging in the most impactful work for your school community. We’ll review methods and available tools, analyze case studies and practice our skills in class. From surveys and focus groups to analytics and user testing, we’ll cover the gamut of available options. You’ll leave this workshop ready to save your organization thousands with your ability to do in-house research, focus communication efforts on what really works and demonstrate the return on the communication investment.

When: Sunday, July 14, from 9 AM - 4 PM

Registration Fee: $329 (discount rate if also registering for National Seminar; $379 otherwise) 

What to bring: A laptop or mobile device and any research goals you have for the year ahead

Presenters: Trinette Marquis, APR

Trinette Marquis, APR

Trinette Marquis, APR, has more than 25 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies, government, nonprofits and education agencies. Her work has involved a wide range of communication activities, including research and evaluation, strategic planning, facilitated consensus building, media relations, social media planning and implementation, promotional materials and video production. She regularly presents and writes on the topic of communication data, planning and organizational change. Trinette is the past president of the California School Public Relations Association and has been recognized throughout her career, including the 2010 National “Leadership through Communication Award,” presented by the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Public Relations Association as well as national awards from the Medical Marketing Association and International Association of Business Communicators. She is a part-time lecturer at California State University, Sacramento and author of Engaging Data: Smart Strategies for School Communication.

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“Election Success” Can Be Yours: Planning and Data-based Strategies for Winning at the Polls

Are you facing looming facility or operational needs and an uncertain community? Whether you are new to elections or need to retool your efforts, this strategy-focused workshop will help you get your next school finance election on the road to success with solid planning and the thoughtful use of data. You will: learn the “must know” rules for district-led “just the facts” communication vs. citizen-led “vote with us!” campaigns; find new ways to describe complex fiscal ideas in plain English; review a variety of approaches to community engagement and the important communication steps related to any election; and walk away with critical election resources and sample communication plans and timelines. You will have the opportunity to practice working with real voter data using your own district’s profile or that of a similar community. (Note: Register at least 10 days before the workshop to receive voter profiles for your community from L2.) Find out how to discover what community members want and will accept, and learn how to design and deliver effective “push” messages. This will be a lively day, with lots of dialogue, real-life examples and plenty of time for Q&A with seasoned election experts. This workshop may make the difference between winning and losing in your next school finance election!

When: Sunday, July 14, from 9 AM - 4 PM

Registration Fee: $329 (discount rate if also registering for National Seminar; $379 otherwise) 

What to bring: A laptop or mobile device

Presenters: J.Marie Riche, David Beil​

J. Marie Riche  David Beil

As the founder and principal of Ideal Communications in Washington State, J. Marie Riche has spent the last couple decades helping school, fire and library districts, non-profits, utilities and others “play well” with their communities. She is a former in-house communications director who has built and implemented comprehensive, award-winning PR programs from the ground up. Her experience includes community engagement, media relations, crisis response, leadership coaching, facilitated agreements and literally billions in successful public finance election campaigns. J. Marie is proud to have served the school PR community at the state and national levels as a member and past-president of the Washington School Public Relations Association and as a past NSPRA Northwest Region Vice President.

David Beil is a communications professional with more than 21 years of experience in television/video production and school communications. For the past 11 years, he has served as the community relations director for Central Kitsap School District. David is responsible for developing and implementing the district’s overall communications strategy, including internal communications, external communications, media relations and social media. Prior to joining CKSD’s leadership team, he worked for seven years as the communications specialist for Spokane Public Schools. David is an active member of several professional organizations, and is currently serving as past president of the Washington School Public Relations Association.

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Half-Day Workshop Descriptions


Enhance Your District's Brand with Adobe Spark

A good brand delivers a clear message, confirms credibility, makes an emotional connection with a target audience and creates loyalty. Your district’s brand can and should do all of that, but it’s not always easy to find the time to create content that does those things. Participants in this workshop will walk away with new, efficient ways to tell their district’s story using Adobe Spark - a convenient, free, web-based tool to create professional-looking content. After taking this course, you’ll be able to create stunning graphics and compelling videos in minutes - all while building a more cohesive, consistent brand. This workshop is for both new and experienced school district communications professionals looking to efficiently and effectively create graphics and videos to enhance their district’s brand and engage their school community. Note: Adobe Spark can be used to create web pages, but this course will focus strictly on creating graphics and videos.

When: Sunday, July 14, from 1 - 4 PM

Registration Fee: $190 (discount rate if also registering for National Seminar; $240 otherwise) 

What to bring: A laptop, 10-20 photos taken during the 2018-19 school year and a JPEG or PNG file of your district’s logo

Presenter: Aaron Cagwin

Aaron Cagwin

Aaron Cagwin is in his ninth year as a communications specialist with Capital Region BOCES in Albany, NY. He is an award-winning videographer and has presented on video best practices at past NSPRA conferences in Nashville and San Antonio. He also frequently leads staff development sessions on photography and videography for the team of 70+ school communications professionals at Capital Region BOCES. Aaron has worked in districts of all sizes, rural and urban, and offers a unique perspective on the diverse needs of various school communities.

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Two-Day Workshop Descriptions


New Professionals Program

If you have been in public relations for fewer than three years or if you’re new to the field, this is the foundation you need for practicing all facets of school PR. You’ll work with seasoned school PR professionals on effective communications planning, applying the RACE/RPIE (research, analysis/planning, communication/implementation and evaluation) process, identifying target audiences, framing key messages, developing communication strategies and a variety of other topics. You will also have the opportunity to work in teams to apply the concepts learned. This workshop is fun, fast paced and filled with information that will help you create a solid foundation for a career in school PR. You’ll also begin to build a valuable network of colleagues and connect with NSPRA veterans, who can guide you and support your professional success.

When: Saturday, July 13, from 9 AM - 4:30 PM and Sunday, July 14, from 8:30 AM - Noon

Registration Fee: $349 (discount rate if also registering for National Seminar; $399 otherwise) 

What to bring: A laptop or mobile device

Presenters: Susan Brott, APR; Chris Tennill, APR

Susan Brott, APR  Chris Tennill, APR

Susan K. Brott, APR, has worked in public education for the past 23 years. Currently she serves as the director of communications for the South St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools, a racially and socio-economically diverse suburb of St. Paul, Minn. Before moving to South St. Paul in July 2018, Susan served for six years as the director of communications and community engagement for Edina (Minn.) Public Schools, an affluent, nationally recognized, first-ring Minneapolis suburban school district. Prior to her tenure in Edina, Susan was the chief marketing and communications officer for the West St. Paul-Mendota-Eagan (Minn.) Area Schools where she also oversaw the district’s technology department. Previously she worked in the White Bear Lake (Minn.) Area School District where she worked as its first communications coordinator, managing all aspects of a one-person communications department.

Chris Tennill, APR, serves as the chief communications officer for the School District of Clayton, where he has been leading that district’s communications efforts for the past 16 years. His commitment to supporting those new to the profession led him to develop an award-winning mentoring program in his home state of Missouri and helped set the stage for his current role facilitating the New Professionals Program. He is a recognized leader in school communications, a past president of the Missouri School Public Relations Association and previously served on the NSPRA Executive Board as South Central Region Vice President. 

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APR Prep: Get Ready for Universal Accreditation

Ready to move ahead as a PR professional? Then it’s time to become accredited in public relations. This in-depth workshop helps you prepare for the Universal Accreditation examination by providing a solid grounding in the knowledge, skills and abilities tested. Learn what topics are covered and how to plan and prepare for the various components required for completing the testing process. Make a commitment to yourself and begin your professional development journey toward earning your APR.

When: Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14, from 9 AM - 4 PM

Registration Fee: $349 (discount rate if also registering for National Seminar; $399 otherwise) 

What to bring: A laptop or mobile device

Presenters: Presenters: Naomi Hunter, APR; Shawn McKillop, APR

Naomi Hunter, APR  Shawn McKillop, APR

Naomi Hunter, APR, has more than 25 years of experience in strategic communications and public relations in the public, private and non-profit sectors.  She served as director of communications for the Redwood City School District (RCSD) for more than 10 years before launching Naomi Hunter Communications in 2017. She served as president of the Public Relations Society of America, San Francisco Chapter (PRSA-SF) in 2014 and currently serves on the Board of the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA). She has presented workshops at conferences for NSPRA, CalSPRA, the Association of California School Administrators' Women in School Leadership Conference and the Association of California School Administrators' Classified Educational Leaders Institute.

Shawn McKillop, APR, is the manager of communications and community engagement for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB). He previously served as manager of communications at the Grand Erie District School Board for seven years and as a communications officer at HWDSB for three years. He also has communications experience working in political environments such as the Ontario Legislature in Toronto, Canada. He supported communications that was directed by the Premier of Ontario while working with Members of Provincial Parliament and Cabinet Ministers, including the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Community and Social Services, the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues and the Minister of Education. It was in his role as communications advisor to the Minister of Education that he developed a passion for education. 

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