Medium 9781475824247

JSPR Vol 34-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

Although this is not a theme issue, the articles included have a common thread—they all pertain to relationships. Public relations scholars have long recognized that successful leadership and management depend largely on the ability of administrators to construct and nurture positive associations, both with internal and external stakeholders. The value of relationships has become increasingly obvious as researchers examine the pivotal role of social and political capital in ongoing efforts to improve colleges and schools.

Associations between teachers and students are one of the most important but least recognized linkages that can affect schools. Building on this fact, Bonnie Kosiczky, an assistant principal at North Forsyth (NC) High School, and Carol Mullen, director of the School of Education at Virginia Tech, conducted a study of perceptions related to using humor in classrooms. Their findings suggest that this technique is related to building and strengthening positive relationships. In addition to providing relevant data, Drs. Kosiczky and Mullen offer insights into the implications of their research for school public relations.

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Humor in High School and the Role of Teacher Leaders in School Public Relations

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BONNIE KOSICZKY

CAROL A. MULLEN

ABSTRACT: How can public schools improve public relations strategies, particularly in communications between teachers and students? The purposes of this study were to investigate teacher leaders’ perceptions of the use of humor in the high school classroom and discover how humor might bridge instruction to student learning and strengthen teacher– student relationships. We also sought potential connections to school public relations. Teacher leaders’ humor in the classroom has not been studied at the high school level in any detail. For this qualitative case study, we researched teacher leaders’ perceptions of their use of humor in classroom instruction and observed them in action with student groups and teacher colleagues. The question of what makes teachers succeed when they use humor with students was analyzed using the constructs of climate, communication, engagement, and relationships. The sample comprised nine secondary-level teacher leaders, from various subject areas in a North Carolina school. We observed these teachers’ interactions in their classrooms, conducted interviews about how they perceived their use of humor, and listened to them dialogue in focus groups. It was found that humor improves instruction and supports classroom climate, teacher–student communication, and relational learning. Implications of this study are that teachers who effectively use humor are not only facilitating student engagement, but also enhancing their work in the school public relations domain by fostering a strong bond among students and adults in the academic setting and by propelling community development and renewal with such external constituents as families.

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New Superintendents: Trust, Networking, and Social Capital

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JOAN RIPLEY

ROXANNE M. MITCHELL

JOHN A. RICHMAN

ABSTRACT: This instrumental case study explored how five newly appointed superintendents identified key stakeholders and built trust and social capital with stakeholders in their districts. Stakeholder, trust, and social capital theory were the lenses that guided this study. We utilized a pragmatic research design and thematic data analysis to interpret our findings. Our findings suggested that superintendents identified three primary stakeholder groups (the board of education, the teachers’ union, and the PTA). Practical implications pointed to the need to provide coursework and continued professional development that fosters knowledge about bridging, leading reform efforts, and building social capital with stakeholders.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how five newly appointed superintendents in one Northeastern region, with varying degrees of professional experience as superintendents, identified key stakeholders, created effective social networking strategies, and built social capital in their districts. There is a need to add to the knowledge of how superintendents navigate new relationships, acquire new skills to establish social networks, and build social capital. Identifying effective strategies for building social networks and establishing trusting relationships may assist leaders to meet organizational goals (Ahuja, 2000; Tsai & Ghoshal, 1998). Building social capital acts as a resource in times of transition and challenging circumstances and can lead to successful reform efforts (Coleman, 1990).

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The Dynamics of Parental Involvement in U.S. Schools from 1996 to 2007

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SCOTT M. MYERS

CARRIE B. MYERS

ABSTRACT: We use data from over 25,000 U.S. parents interviewed in the 1996 and 2007 National Household Education Surveys to address two under-researched questions. The organizing framework for these questions is the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. First, did school-based parental involvement change during 1996–2007? Second, do the predictors of this parental involvement change during 1996–2007? We researched two empirical national trends from 1996 to 2007: (1) aggregate parental involvement levels increased, and (2) parents who have traditionally struggled to become involved in their children’s school continue to do so increasingly and disproportionately.

Alarge body of research demonstrates consistently that (1) higher levels of parental involvement in their children’s K–12 educational lives are associated strongly and positively with academic and behavioral outcomes, and (2) a small set of family and parental characteristics explain much of the differences in levels of involvement (Hill & Tyson, 2009; Hornby & Lafaele, 2011; McNeal, 2012). Given the robustness of these findings, it is surprising that we have little empirical evidence about two important follow-up questions on the dynamics (i.e., patterns of growth or change) of parental involvement. First, have aggregate parental involvement levels changed over time? Second, have the predictors of parental involvement changed over time? In this research, we address these two questions with cross-sectional data from the 1996 and 2007 waves of the National Household Education Surveys Program conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. These data sets include over 25,000 parents of children in grades K –12, which are nationally representative of the population of children in public and private K–12 schools in 1996 and 2007. Our measures of parental involvement include two school-based activities: variety of parental involvement and frequency of parental involvement.

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