ISPRA Fall/Winter Conference


Where do we go from here? After 20+ months of anything but ordinary communications work, it is exciting to be looking towards the future. The ISPRA Fall Conference will be an opportunity to connect, reconnect and reset the world of school communications and public relations. Join us virtually on Dec. 14 and 15 for some “you” time.




Agenda and Speakers:

December 14th

What Districts Miss in Attracting Talent 
Sarah Roberson, Senior Education Advisor

Attracting and retaining talent is a crucial challenge for many districts. Based on the largest survey of millennial teachers, you will learn key misconceptions about recruiting teachers, what your prospective staff is actually looking for, and private sector best practices on how to stand out.

Sarah Roberson, Senior Education Advisor

Storytelling – It’s something everyone talks about, but hardly ever thinks through – how do we actually tell a good story? Now that we’re almost out of this crazy COVID year, how do you continue to tell your story with a community that’s more engaged than ever. In this session, we’ll give you a crash course on how school leaders can use different platforms to tell better stories. We’ll start with the basics, sharing why stories are so effective and how to craft the overarching narrative of your district. Then, we’ll teach you how to find and tell smaller stories that not only reflect your values but captivate your audience along the way.Sarah Roberson,

Senior Education Advisor
Sarah has been working with schools for over 25 years as a nonprofit professional, most recently as the Executive Director of City Year Little Rock. She has a passion for building collaborative partnerships that result in student success. From the classroom to the superintendent’s office, Sarah understands the interdependent nature of school districts and the need for clear communication and expectations. Sarah enjoys making communication easier for teachers, staff, and administrators so they can focus on students!

December 15th

The Fires are Burning and The Waves are High: Best practices for responding to your critics
Susan Brott and Julie Thannum

There have always been critics of public education, but the current politicized climate has made navigating the waters a bit more rocky for school leaders. Whether the conversation is heating up about mask mandates, what’s being taught, how students are learning or your district’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, opponents are organizing and responding in ways that can distract and disrupt your mission-driven work to support each and every student. In this session we will share effective messaging and communication strategies that can help school leaders proactively promote a positive narrative around their district’s decisions and strategic work while also lessening the need to react and respond to negative and inaccurate messaging. Participants will gain insight into the well-organized strategies of opposition groups. They will learn best practices for responding to critics, and how to lower the temperature and navigate through difficult conversations with credibility by focusing on transparency, truth and by cultivating long-term trust.

Launching a Podcast: Can I Really Do it?
Eric Smidt, Ames CSD and AJ Ellingson, Waukee CSD

Eric Smidt, Ames CSD and AJ Ellingson, Waukee CSD are experts in the field of communications. Both have expanded their district’s audiences by launching a district-wide podcast. Learn the how and ways to accomplish this for your district.