HISD Wins National School Communication Award for PowerUp

Initiative expanding in 2014-2015 school year to include online teaching and learning platform

The Houston Independent School District has been selected to receive a 2014 Gold Medallion Award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for its Special Communications Project/Campaign, “PowerUp Communications.”

NSPRA’s Gold Medallion Award is the highest award given by the association in recognition of outstanding school public relations programs. Judges look each year for special programs, projects, and campaigns that combine insightful assessment, detailed planning, creative communication, and careful evaluation.

Judges selected only seven winners from 31 entries this year, and HISD was chosen for its internal and external communications efforts surrounding PowerUp.

PowerUp is HISD’s comprehensive districtwide initiative to transform teaching and learning through digital-age instruction, technology, and personalization. Communication efforts during the 2013-2014 school year focused on the distribution of more than 8,000 laptops to students at 11 high schools and the intense training of teachers on the use of technology to personalize instruction.

NSPRA Executive Director, Rich Bagin, APR, said of the PowerUp communication efforts, “People don’t always see the value of meeting students’ needs with technology, so Houston ISD developed an ambitious communications plan to explain how the goal of this districtwide initiative went far beyond providing computers to students.

“Through social media, TV, parent workshops, teacher blogs, and many other communication tools, HISD has been able to garner positive media attention about how it is helping students become 21st century-ready through transformational, digital-age instruction.”

During the coming 2014-2015 school year, the one-to-one component of the PowerUp initiative is expanding to include an additional 21 high schools, and a pilot group of K-12 campuses will begin using an online teaching and learning and platform called the “HUB.” When fully implemented at all 282 schools during the 2015-2016 school year, the “HUB” will become the central location of collaboration, personalization, curriculum, instruction, and communication for all HISD staff, students, and parents.

“I am thrilled that the HISD Communications Department is being honored and recognized for our efforts to keep staff, students, parents, and community members informed and engaged in the district’s digital transformation efforts, “ said HISD Chief Communication Officer Tiffany Davila-Dunne. “Our efforts will continue as we launch the next phase of PowerUp and as the district strives to ensure that all of our students have the skills they need to succeed in today’s 21st century economy.”