Arcadia Unified Earns Statewide Recognition for Excellence in Communications
The Arcadia Unified School District recently received a record six awards from the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA) in CALSPRA’s Excellence in Communications Awards Program, receiving top honors in multimedia/visual communications and special events/programs and a special commendation through CalSPRA’s first-ever Superintendent Award.
CalSPRA is a statewide organization that promotes better public understanding, commitment to, and support for public education. Annually, it hosts its Excellence in Communications Awards Program, which recognizes superior achievement in meeting strategic goals through high-quality communications and public relations initiatives.
At the helm of Arcadia Unified’s Communications and Public Information Office since August 2013, Ryan Foran, Chief Communications Officer for the district, explained that his office’s success would not be possible without the support he receives throughout the district.
“I feel so fortunate to work in a school district that values transparent communication that seeks to both engage and inform our families, staff, students, and community,” said Foran.
“It really is a team effort that begins with great support from our Board of Education, an innovative Superintendent and principals, and all of our district staff's efforts to share our messages with students and families.”
A testament to how teamwork makes the dream work for Arcadia Unified’s communications efforts is the fact that Arcadia Unified Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall earned CalSPRA’s first-ever special recognition for “Superintendent to Watch.” This award category was created this year to recognize and celebrate superintendents in public education who show a personal commitment to and support of communications and public relations and sees the direct impact it has on ensuring the trust, transparency, and cohesion of a school district and of public education on the whole.
“I could not believe more in the importance of communications and the value that it adds to championing the betterment of public education for students in our district and everywhere,” said Arcadia Unified Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall.
“I’m humbled to be recognized by this remarkable organization and the incredible professionals from across the state that it's comprised of for simply supporting work I believe in.”
CalSPRA President Matthew Jennings personally presented to Arcadia Unified’s Board of Education and shared more about the honors the school district received through this year’s awards program.
“It is extremely exciting to honor Arcadia Unified with this award,” said Jennings.
“CalSPRA members across California helped lead our school communities through the challenges of this pandemic, providing effective communication in the face of uncertainty and polarization. Now, more than ever, successful communication is at the heart of public education. This award-winning example is just one way Arcadia Unified provides excellent communication work every day.”
Here’s a look at the initiatives, strategies, and more that earned Arcadia Unified hardware in this year’s CalSPRA Awards Program:
CalSPRA President Matthew Jennings presents Arcadia Unified’s communications awards, including Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall’s special recognition, at a recent Board of Education Meeting
The first of award of its kind, Jennings explained in his presentation why Dr. Vannasdall was selected for this inaugural recognition.
“We were very honored to bestow this honor on your superintendent for his support and leadership, specifically in the areas of public school communications,” said Jennings. “He is always an advocate for CalSPRA and positive public relations and positive public school communications.”
Arcadia Unified captures #ArcadiaFirstDay smiles through this special social media campaign
For nearly a decade, Arcadia Unified has been capturing the smiles and excitement of the first day of school through its #ArcadiaFirstDay campaign. There are close to 1,000 photos in its most recent #ArcadiaFirstDay Facebook photo album.
Created in conjunction with Arcadia Unified’s Digital Communications Internship (DCI) program, this news programming initiative empowers students to be the broadcast news reporters and storytellers for their school district. There are nearly 30 news segments and counting, which can be viewed on this AUSD Today YouTube playlist.
Arcadia Unified infographic created to clarify and visually breakdown important county health guidelines
The one constant through the COVID-19 pandemic was that health guidelines and regulations were constantly changing. Arcadia Unified utilized visual communication pieces, such as the “COVID-19 Close Contacts & Quarantine” infographic above to help communicate with its families, students, and staff in an easy-to-digest manner to help streamline answers to questions and to take the guess-work out of how to stay safe and healthy through the pandemic.
Arcadia High School’s draft selections for the 2021-22 school year at New Educator Academy Draft Day
In a continuous effort to help newly hired educators feel welcomed and envision the start of a long and robust career in Arcadia Unified upon being hired, Dr. Vannasdall and Foran brainstormed a capstone event for the district’s New Educator Academy (NEA). Envisioning a sports-team-style draft day press conference, “NEA Draft Day” was born. Principals with new recruits to start the new school year are encouraged to walk down a red carpet with their draft picks to a team song of their choice, give a fun spiel on their “team”, aka school, and how the new draft pick, aka educator, will add to the team’s success in the new season (school year).
With a nationwide substitute teacher shortage, one that has particularly impacted California throughout the pandemic, Arcadia Unified set out to stand out among the crowd. Utilizing the popular “Bitmoji” animations to create an informative video, Foran and his team made a Bitmoji-based video to engage prospective substitute teachers to apply to work in Arcadia Unified.
Previous Arcadia Unified CalSPRA Awards and Recognition
Since Foran joined the Arcadia Unified team, he and his office have earned numerous awards. Last year, Arcadia Unified took home three Excellence in Communications Awards for its unique Digital Communications Internship program, its uplifting, community-building #schoolsclosedheartopen video, and its encouraging Arcadia Unified Nice Notes campaign to support teachers and staff who have gone above and beyond through the most difficult times of the pandemic.
Likewise, other previous award-winning Arcadia Unified communications initiatives have included the district’s Digital Education Station series, which features interviews and updates on district programs, such as the Leader in Me program in Arcadia Unified elementary and middle schools and Restorative Practices. In addition, Arcadia Unified’s DCI students have earned these professional-level CalSPRA awards for their work in video production and for their work on the Keepin’ it Arcadia podcast, which is currently in its fifth season.
CalSPRA is home to over 400 school public relations and communications professionals from school districts, county offices of education, and other educational institutions across the state of California. Each member is eligible to submit project entries for consideration in the CalSPRA awards program. To avoid conflicts of interest and bias, award program entries are judged by communications professionals outside of CalSPRA.
For more information about the Arcadia Unified School District’s Communications and Public Information Office, visit www.ausd.net. For more details on CalSPRA and its Excellence in Communication Awards program and CalSPRA’s 2022 award winners, visit www.calspra.org.