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Jspr Vol 26-N1

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The Journal of School Public Relations is a quarterly publication providing research, analysis, case studies and descriptions of best practices in six critical areas of school administration: public relations, school and community relations, community education, communication, conflict management/resolution, and human resources management. Practitioners, policymakers, consultants and professors rely on the Journal for cutting-edge ideas and current knowledge. Articles are a blend of research and practice addressing contemporary issues ranging from passing bond referenda to building support for school programs to integrating modern information.

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Notes From the Editor

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THEODORE J. KOWALSKI

This issue offers several diverse but equally interesting articles. In the lead article, Dr. Ralph Johnson, an Ohio superintendent, shares his views on the centrality of communication in his practice. His district, located near Columbus, is the headquarters of a major corporation, and residents of the growing community place a high value on education and desire to be highly involved in the school system.

The second article is written by Pete Miller from the University of Utah. He shares the results of a qualitative research study focusing on university and community collaboration. His insights concerning the use and exchange of power in collaborative ventures are certainly thought provoking and relevant to our readers.

Practical advice about communication is offered to administrators and teachers in the third article. The author, Don Kachur, professor emeritus at Illinois State University, has had extensive experience working with educators, both in his role as a professor and in his role as executive director of the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In recent years, Don has shared his insights about effective communication with educators through workshops and conference presentations.

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Observations From the National Academy for Superintendents: Three Shifts in Thinking Toward Better School Communications

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RALPH A. JOHNSON

ABSTRACT: This discussion summarizes comments made at the National Academy for Superintendents held at The Ohio State University focusing on changes practitioners have experienced in the area of school communication. The article examines how broad community themes, linking education to the entire community fabric, have resonated and better served the mission of the school district. Second, the article describes examples of how the quality and frequency of communication have shifted, given the significant competition for messages in today’s world of media. Finally, there is discussion of how communication centered around core values of the school district becomes crucial. Value-driven communication themes assist the district in carrying out specific educational objectives. There is a concluding discussion of how the art of face-to-face communication by the superintendent is essential in personalizing the messages of the institution and community.

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Dialogue Facilitating Collaboration: A Critical Perspective

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PETE MILLER

ABSTRACT: This article proposes a critical theoretical paradigm for the evaluation of university-community-school partnerships. Although numerous models have been posited for assessing these collaborative endeavors, few of them have granted adequate attention to the voices of community partners, and none have centered on systemic issues of power and privilege. Because most partnerships between universities and communities are characterized by inequitable power relations, a critical community-informed evaluative perspective is needed. The model proposed here, which is rooted in the dialogical framework of Paulo Freire, evaluates the extent to which partnerships are authentically mutual or “horizontal.” This evaluation model has relevance for all educational administrators who are engaged in partnerships.

There are many instances in which members of university communities interact with diverse neighboring communities and schools. Their close geographic proximity to each other facilitates these common interactions. However, collaboration between university and community is a much deeper and more meaningful relationship than a simple coexistence characterized by shallow interactions. Gronski and Pigg (2000) define collaboration as “an interactive process among individuals and organizations with diverse expertise and resources, joining together to devise and execute plans for common goals as well as to generate solutions for complex problems” (p. 783). Therefore, a truly collaborative relationship will be both mutually dependent upon the inputfrom the university and the community and mutually beneficial to the university and community. The extent to which this desired mutuality can be achieved has great implications for all university, school, and community leaders.

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Putting Interpersonal Communication to Work

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DONALD KACHUR

ABSTRACT: Educators are continuously faced with a wide range of communication challenges. Only by self-examining one’s own approaches to interpersonal communication and being willing to improve can one put better communication to work in meeting those challenges—whether they are part of one’s personal or professional life. Four principles are addressed that underlie the workings in real life when considering interpersonal communication. In addition, attention is given to five dimensions of interpersonal communication that have great impact, particularly upon the initial interaction between individuals. The five include nonverbal communication, remembering names, eye contact, shaking hands, and listening.

On any given day, we as educators are faced with a wide range of communication challenges. Maybe it’s providing an image of our school to the community, welcoming new parents to our school, or coaching a new educator to help that individual improve in performance. There are many forms of communication, but for the purposes of this article, the focus will be on interpersonal communication.

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Revisiting Communication During a Crisis: Insights From Kenneth Trump

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THEODORE J. KOWALSKI

In the aftermath of several tragic incidents of school violence, school administrators began focusing more directly on crisis management. Those who actually had to activate their plans often discovered that communication—with the media and with the general community—was one of the most challenging tasks they faced. In an effort to determine if progress was being made in their critical function, I, as editor of the journal, contacted Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services in Cleveland, Ohio. A recognized expert on school safety and security, he has worked directly with myriad districts and schools to conduct safety audits, to prepare crisis plans, and to actually deal with crisis situations. The following is a transcript of the brief interview.

KOWALSKI: Ken, first let me express my appreciation for you agreeing to talk with me about crisis communication. The topic is an area of profound interest to our readers. As you know much better than I, crisis readiness in public education became a national interest after a series of violent acts during the mid-and late 1990s. For example, many states, including Ohio, mandated local school systems to develop and maintain school crisis plans. Based on your work with school administrators, how would you characterize the overall quality of plans that have been developed?

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