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2024 WSPRA Winter Conference

Registration is now open for the Winter Conference! We hope you will join us on March 6-7 at the Puget Sound ESD in Renton, Washington.

With an agenda full of nationally renowned speakers and outstanding WSPRA presenters, you do not want to miss this incredible learning and networking experience! We’ll discover innovative strategies for using community engagement as a tool to bridge divides and foster unity within diverse educational communities. Learn how to break the mold with storytelling techniques that disrupt traditional communications to captivate your audience and inspire change. Understand how to effectively use data to showcase the impact of your work and drive strategic decision-making. And, so much more!

Thank you for your dedication to advancing school communications. We hope to welcome you to an inspiring and productive WSPRA Winter Conference!

Register Here

Conference Agenda

Tuesday, March 5

7:00 pm: No-Host Networking Dinner (Location TBD)

Wednesday, March 6

8:00 - 9:00 am: Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 - 9:15 am: Welcome

9:15 - 10:15 am
Community Engagement to Bridge Divides
Presenter: Barbara Hunter, NSPRA Executive Director
If your experience with community engagement looks like angry parents venting their frustrations at a school board meeting or fed-up teachers walking out on the job in protest, then it’s time to revisit what authentic community engagement really means and the power it can have to bring your community together. Learn how stakeholders can share their own perspectives and listen to diverse views in a civilized, productive manner.

10:25 - 11:25 am
Bold Storytelling that Disrupts Tradition to Engage, Empower and Inspire
Presenter: Akwi Nji, Powerful Over Pretty
Learn how to take a wildly different approach, by incorporating strategies used in the for-profit world, to engage employees, reignite enthusiasm, and build trust with your families and community. In this interactive and engaging session, participants will reimagine how to integrate powerful graphics, videography, and copy that slices through the static and appeals to racially and culturally diverse audiences. Incorporate digital, traditional, and live media with a sustainable production schedule for a team of any size and any budget.

11:25 am - 12:25 pm: Lunch (included in registration)

12:25 - 1:25 pm
Digital Detox: Smoothing Out Your Digital Presence When Your Job Depends on Staying Connected
Presenter: Melissa McConnell, NSPRA Manager of Professional Development and Member Engagement
"Digital Detox" doesn't have to mean completely staying away from technology, especially when using technology plays a significant role in #SchoolPR! However, preserving our mental bandwidth merits attention and action. Get tips, tactics and strategies to use on phones and laptops, so we can all carve out space to be present with family and friends, stay informed as needed for your career, and recognize when we have reached our own limits.

1:35: - 2:35 pm - Breakout Sessions

Empowering Principals to Become Communicators
Presenters: Kevin Dudley and Ryan Lancaster, Spokane Public Schools
District marketing and communications professionals can’t do it alone—not when false or misleading narratives about their schools might be commonplace. That’s why school building administrators need to be empowered to be strong external communicators. Spokane Public Schools will share how it was able to get all 57 of its schools to use an active Facebook page and launch e-newsletters to share weekly and monthly news and updates with parents. Learn what kind of work it takes to get principals on board and what kind of support administrators require to be successful external communicators.

Bond Voyage: Pasco School District's Journey in Effectively Passing a Bond in 2023
Presenters: Anna Tensmeyer and Cassie Galvez, Pasco School District
Embark on a captivating journey with the Pasco School District (PSD) as they share their triumphant experience in successfully passing a bond during the February 2023 election. In this enlightening presentation, they will unravel the strategies and tactics that set PSD apart as the sole district in Washington to achieve this feat. 

Discover the innovative approaches employed by PSD to effectively educate and engage their community on the crucial significance of passing the bond. Gain valuable insights into tailoring these strategies to suit the unique needs of your district. The presentation will delve into the challenges PSD faced, including opposition and unforeseen obstacles, offering a comprehensive understanding of how they navigated these turbulent waters.

2:45 - 3:45 pm: Breakout Sessions

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod
Presenters: Conor Christofferson and Douglas Boyles, Bethel School District
From engaging interviews with staff and students to highlighting unique school events and achievements, the Bethel School District Podcast has become a vibrant hub of storytelling, and a centerpiece for the district’s communications strategy. This presentation will cover the practicalities of starting a podcast that will enhance communication, support education, and build community within your district.

Reinventing the Resource Fair, P.I.C.N.I.C. – Purposefully Integrating Culture Nurturing Inclusive Community
Presenters: Amanda Marley-Clarke, Jennifer Johnen and Mateo Santiago, North Mason School District
Are your school resource fairs falling flat? Meet the team from North Mason School District that put a spin on the typical resource fair and turned it into an event for their whole community. With the words in the acronym driving them, the team was able to improve district morale, enhance community engagement, strengthen resource partnerships, and join cultures together using music, food, and fun. Learn how they handled obstacles in the areas of budget and buy-in, and the challenges they faced when the event doubled in size from one year to the next. Attendees will leave with tools to guide them in hosting their own ‘picnic with a purpose.’

3:55 - 4:45 pm: Platinum+ Sponsor Breakout Learning Sessions

ParentSquare: New Research on What's Working for School Communication and Engagement
Presenters: Valerie Wilson, ParentSquare and Susan Gifford and Conor Schober, Olympia School District
What does the latest research reveal about school-home communications and how do your efforts stack up? In this session we will share the results of a national survey of over 1,150 K-12 leaders, including six key findings related to communication channels, social media, contactability, branding, and equity. We’ll also share how you can use these results to improve school-home communications in your school or district.

Finalsite: Crafting a School Communications Blend That Awakens Success for All
Presenters: John Doornbos, Finalsite and Dr. Ivan Duran, Highline Public Schools
This session explores school communications from a superintendent's perspective. Learn from a seasoned superintendent about their priorities and expectations for effective communication, drawing lessons from community engagement, branding, and marketing.

Tailored for Washington School Public Relations Association members, this session helps align your communication strategies with school leadership's goals. Gain insights into addressing challenges, enhancing brand value, and achieving differentiation through communication.

5:00 pm - No Host Networking Happy Hour (Location TBD)

6:00 pm - No Host Group Dinners (Location TBD)

Thursday, March 7 

8:00 - 9:00 am: Continental Breakfast and Networking

9:00 - 9:15 am: Welcome

9:15 - 10:15 am
Use Your Data to Promote Your PR Program
Presenter: Trinette Marquis, CalSPRA Executive Director
Collecting data about output and impact is an important step in maximizing the effectiveness of your PR program. Social media, website analytics, online surveys, town hall meetings and enews statistics provide easy data sources. You also need to put the information to work. We’ll discuss how to interpret data, how to facilitate a data-driven culture, and how to use it to educate about the value of communication. Using a combination of creative measures, powerful stories, and accessible reporting tools, you can secure the future of the communication function as well as make the case for growing the department even in tough financial times.

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Decoding RPIE: Transform Your Work Through Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation
Presenters: Sarah Foy, Oak Harbor School District and Tove Tupper, Highline Public Schools
Does taking time to plan ahead feel like an extra task or a hindrance to your job? What if we showed you that a bit of preparation can actually simplify your work and give you better outcomes? It's time to decode RPIE and master a process that will elevate your communications to new heights. Discover how to conduct meaningful research, craft strategic plans, implement them smoothly, and assess their impact effectively. This session is a practical guide to integrating RPIE into your daily routine, packed with strategies, resources, and real-life examples from both small and large school districts.

12:00 pm: Closing and No-Host Networking Lunches 

Hotel Information

While we are not reserving a hotel block for the conference, we recommend the following locations which are nearby:

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Platinum Plus Sponsors


Silver Sponsors