UPDATED: Fall Conference 2015

Building Relationships Among Your Communities: Staff, Parents, Business, Media and Others

Featuring Jamie Vollmer, an award-winning champion of public education, and the author of the highly acclaimed book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone, as our opening keynote speaker on the subjects of advocacy and community engagement.

What: Wisconsin School Public Relations Association 2015 Fall Conference

When: Wednesday, November 4 – Friday, November 6

Where: Holiday Inn Stevens Point – Convention Center, Stevens Point, WI (map)




Video presentation of Jamie Vollmer speaking at Tacoma Schools (Washington). This presentation is similar to the keynote address he gave at the 2015 WSPRA Fall Conference.



Click date to see details. Download the brochure here.


    5:30 – 7:00 PM Registration
    7:00 – 10:00 PM Welcome Reception


    7:30 – 8:15 AM Registration and Continental Breakfast
    8:15 – 8:30 AM Welcome from Kevin Hickman, WSPRA President
    8:30 – 8:45 AM Special Announcement
    8:45 – 10:00 AM Opening Keynote Jamie Vollmer

    Opening Keynote: Welcome to the Great Conversation: Building public support for public schools one community at a time

    Jamie Vollmer is an award-winning advocate of public education who believes you have the power to create a community-wide climate that supports student achievement.

    His keynote builds on the themes in his book, School Cannot Do It Alone, proclaimed by the American School Board Journal as “One of the top ten books of the year.”

    Jamie employs humor, logic and statistics as he helps you build a new conversation that increases community support for schools. He shows how you can “connect the dots” and make the case that everyone in the community benefits when they support their local schools.

    10:00 – 10:30 AM Resource Fair and Break
    10:30 – 11:45 AM Concurrent Breakout Sessions

    Baraboo Strong: Leveraging Business Education Partnerships for Community Growth
    Lori Mueller, District Administrator, Baraboo School District
    Mike Palm, Mayor, City of Baraboo
    Gil Hantzch, President/CEO, MSA Kim Meyer, Director of Human Resources, Teel Plastics, Inc

    Baraboo business education partnerships have created and strengthened opportunities for students and families by establishing shared goals, financial supports, and stronger career pathways. Leaders in the Baraboo School District and community will share how they have formed partnerships. Highlights from this session will include a district strategic planning process designed to create community partnerships, collaborative engagement strategies used with city administration and businesses, and classroom and curricular connections aligned to skilled labor needs of local employers. Communication and marketing tactics will be identified for participants to apply in their own settings.

    How Does Your Staff Feel? The Value of Measuring Staff Engagement
    Sue Peterson, Strategic Communications Specialist, School Perceptions
    Bill Foster, President, School Perceptions

    There is a direct correlation between staff engagement, staff performance and student achievement. Therefore, understanding how your staff are feeling is imperative for creating a successful school environment, retaining your best employees and maintaining a positive image in your community. Join School Perceptions as they discuss their 12 Indexes for Employee Engagement and how a staff engagement survey will help identify your district’s strengths and weakness and take your district from good to great.

    Communication and Engagement In The 21st Century-Integrating Your Website and Social Media
    Jerry Schuetz, Communications Supervisor, School District of Milton

    During the 2014-2015 school year the School District of Milton made a commitment and investment to better communicate with and engage students, staff and the citizens we serve. The District’s identity team completed a website improvement survey, and by integrating a new website with social media, we tripled our followers on social media in one year and have received a lot of positive feedback from those we serve. Participants will learn specific strategies and tactics from the experience, as well as how best to integrate a strategic communications plan utilizing technology.

    11:45 – 12:00 PM Resource Fair and Break
    12:00 – 1:00 PM Spectrum Awards Luncheon
    1:00 – 1:15 PM Resource Fair and Break
    1:15 – 2:15 PM Jamie Vollmer Interactive Session

    Jamie Vollmer Interactive Session: “Schools Cannot Do This Alone: Student success in an age of rising expectations”

    This session presents an inspiring call-to-action and a powerful case for the need to increase local support for public schools.

    You’ll identify the corrosive social forces undermining support for your schools and develop a strategy to reverse this trend. Examine threats arising from multiplying mandates, shifting demographics and media hype.

    In clear layman’s terms, Vollmer will help you effectively implement a public engagement strategy to increase:

    1. Community understanding of the challenges facing our children and our schools,
    2. Community trust in their local schools to accomplish the goal,
    3. Community permission to make the changes needed to teach all children to high levels, and
    4. Community support throughout the complex and emotional restructuring process.

    You will gain a practical understanding of how you can implement five simple, positive steps to immediately engage community members in the creation of schools that unfold the full potential of every child.

    2:15 – 2:30 PM Resource Fair and Snack Break
    2:30 – 3:45 PM Concurrent Breakout Sessions

    Mobilizing Alumni for Community Engagement, Advocacy & Support
    Dave Van Spankeren, Executive Director of Business Services, CESA VI
    Jim Burgraff, Executive Director, Alumni Nations
    Brian Nicol, Communications and Development Coordinator, Howard-Suamico School District

    A recent Moran Group study found that 50 million high school graduates would give back to their school if asked! But graduates are not the only external stakeholder group to engage – how about alumni parents and the greater community in which the school resides? Imagine these stakeholders all coming together as a community or a Nation of enthusiastic advocates for the school. A coordinated effort by K12 schools could result in significant, additional resources that create a margin of excellence for activities in the classroom, on the stage, and on the fields of competition.

    Building a Strong Base of Brand Ambassadors Throughout Your Community
    Dave Tietz, Treasurer and Facilities Committee Chair, Randolph School District Board of Education
    Kevin Hickman, Vice President Referendum Services, JP Cullen

    After nearly a decade of planning and two failed referenda, voters in Randolph School District approved spending $17.57 million to create a Pre-K-8th grade school at the high school. In this session participants will learn the strategy utilized to build trust with the community after a failed referendum, creating a core group of supporters of the District. Attendees will leave with a plan of action and suggested tools for putting together a framework to form a successful community group; whether it’s a need for increased engagement of a school program, or to have more success reaching your community with pertinent information about your District.

    Building Engagement Into Your Communications Plan
    Sarah Heck, Communications Specialist, Sun Prairie Area School District
    Jill Huskisson, Public Outreach Specialist, Eppstein Uhen Architects

    Cultivating strong relationships and engaging your community should be a fundamental component of your District communication plan. It requires an intentional and sustained commitment to share your mission and vision, celebrations and problem solving with your community. It requires listening and learning alongside stakeholders and a commitment to recognize the priorities and values of a broad community. Join the conversation and learn about the importance of building relationships with your community. Leave with simple strategies, examples and a deeper understanding of your role to motivate and equip staff, administration, and board members for success.

    3:45 – 5:00 PM Personal Time: Catch up on Communications from Home
    5:00 – 6:00 PM Networking Reception with Jamie Vollmer Book Signing
    6:00 – 8:00 PM Hands-on, Creative and Fun Activity for the Group

    Thursday Night: Hands-on, Creative and Fun Activity for the Group

    With group craft projects trending, WSPRA is again on the forefront of fun! Madison’s newest craft studio, The Crafty Project, will walk participants through the process of making a customized sign on reclaimed wood. The cost per member is $20 (register separately). This is a $65 value. WSPRA will pick up a portion of the cost for this fun networking activity. Each sign is personalized, so registration is required for the event. To sign up, visit this link and input your information for customization and pay the Craft Project directly ($20) to have the materials waiting for you Thursday night of the conference. SIGN UP HERE

    8:00 PM – ? Dinner or Activities on the Town with WSPRA Friends

  3. ”FRIDAY,

    8:00 – 9:00 AM Breakfast, Annual Meeting and Roundtable Discussion
    9:00 – 9:15 AM Break 9:15 – 10:30 AM Concurrent Breakout Sessions

    Social Media Roundtable
    Andrea Gribble, Owner, #SocialSchool4EDU

    Join in this interactive discussion where you can learn from each other! Andrea will lead an interactive session, with a discussion on best practices for utilizing social media to celebrate your students and positively promote your school to the community. What social media channel is working best for your district? Have you tried Periscope? What tools do you utilize to measure and report performance? How do you involve the entire district in telling your story? Is there a campaign/contest that had outstanding participation? Can you share tips or tricks that save time? Any concerns you need help tackling? In addition to learning from each other, Andrea will discuss lessons learned from her school district clients.

    Ramp Up Your School Brand and Communication Plan—A Five Step Process that Really Works!
    Dennis Pauli, District Administrator, Edgerton School District

    This fast-paced session is for participants interested in developing or improving their district or school brand and communication plan. Good communication among schools, employees, and the community is not a one-person show. It is everyone’s responsibility because all employees affect the perceptions people hold about your school and district. In this session participants will learn an effective five-step process for creating or updating a communication plan and brand. Leave this session with the confidence to develop a communication plan and brand or improve existing ones. Guaranteed!

    Is Your Crisis Management Plan Ready for Today’s Crisis Situations?
    Kristen Paquet, Social Media Manager, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
    Susan Finco, Owner and President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

    Schools crisis management plans are being challenged by a rapidly growing video and social media presence. These technologies have created instant ways to communicate and share, causing information to go viral, leaving little time for schools to plan an effective strategy to deal with a situation and communicate with staff, students, parents, the community and the media. This session will discuss strategies districts can use for social media in order to engage your community before, during and after a crisis situation. And, if a crisis does happen, learn how to use social media in a fast, effective and responsible manner.

    10:15 – 10:30 AM Break
    10:30 – 11:45 AM Closing Keynote

    Heather DuBois Bourenane Closing Keynote: Be Inspired to Advocate for Public Education in Wisconsin

    Heather DuBois Bourenane, who was selected to lead the Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN) early in 2015, will come to us with an inspiring message in advocacy of public education in Wisconsin. Heather came to WPEN as an educator, public education advocate, grassroots organizer, and the proud parent of two students in Wisconsin public schools.

    Heather teaches English at Madison College and serves as a citizen representative to the Sun Prairie school board, is a chief election inspector, and volunteers regularly in the schools. As a public schools advocate, she established the Dane County Education Coalition, organizes locally through the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC), and has written extensively on public education issues for such outlets as The Progressive Magazine, Isthmus, and Union Labor News. Her focus on informed, ethical, action-focused advocacy is driven by a profound commitment to the promise of public education.

    11:45 AM – Closing Remarks from Kevin Hickman, WSPRA President


About the author

The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is a professional association representing schools, school districts, educational associations, consulting agencies and organizations. WSPRA is a state affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). 4797 HAYES ROAD | SUITE 103 | MADISON, WI 53704 | PHONE: 608-241-0300 | WSPRA@AWSA.ORG