The North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA) is proud to celebrate 50+ years as a professional education association.
NCSPRA was chartered as an official chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) in May 1970.
On April 10, 1970, Owen Lewis, the director of public information for Greensboro Public Schools, petitioned NSPRA, the largest national organization devoted to school communications, to establish an official chapter in North Carolina. The chapter was approved in May, and on July 29, 1970, NCSPRA held its inaugural meeting.
The group elected Owen Lewis as the association’s first president. Tom I. Davis of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction was elected vice president, and Dr. E.T. McSwain from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was elected secretary-treasurer.
NCSPRA had 10 members in 1970. Today, we have 164 members representing nearly 77 school districts and affiliate organizations from across the state.
Our members serve local school districts as public information officers, communications/community relations directors, coordinators/specialists for various communication areas, etc. NCSPRA also involves school superintendents and other school district leaders, educational agencies, communication companies, and organizations with educational interests in its programs and activities.
NCSPRA’s mission is to build support for public schools in North Carolina through well-planned and responsible public relations. The organization offers conferences and workshops on pertinent topics such as communication skills, video production, crisis management, special events/recognition programs, media relations, websites/social media, and more. In addition, the Association offers a scholarship program, leadership opportunities, mentor guidance for new professionals, recognition of members through the Blue Ribbon Award program, and other programs and resources.
A Blue Ribbon Chapter of the national organization, NCSPRA has earned the prestigious Blue Ribbon status 27 times. The association received the NSPRA Exemplary Chapter honor in 2014 for its "Building Support and Respect for Public Schools” campaign. In 2015, NCSPRA provided its professional lens as part of the “Every Child’s Chance … Every Community’s Future” statewide campaign, which involved numerous professional, corporate, and education partnerships in the celebration of 175 years of free public education in North Carolina.
In 1999, Barry Gaskins, Pitt County Schools’ public information director, brought national attention to our organization through his campaign and election as NSPRA president-elect. He served as the national president in 2001-2002 with his inauguration taking place during the national conference in Minneapolis. Gaskins was the first NCSPRA member to be elected to NSPRA’s top position, and our most prestigious award for outstanding service to school public relations bears his name. In 2012, NCSPRA member, Nora Carr, was elected to serve as NSPRA's President-Elect, making her the second NCSPRA member to hold the top position in the National School Public Relations Association.
Three NCSPRA members have served as southeast regional vice president: Barry Gaskins, 1996-1999; Sue Carson, 1987-1990; and Jeff Nash, 2010-2013. Additionally, our members have served on national committees and received national recognition through NSPRA’s various awards programs.
In spring of 2020, in what should have been the kickoff to a year of celebration, NCSPRA quickly found itself on the precipice of a pivotal milestone in how it would define its role moving forward in the global COVID-19 health crisis. Standing on its mission and core values, NCSPRA’s leadership has worked tirelessly to support NC public education and continue responsible public relations and communication that is rooted in building student success. For its ongoing work over the past two years, NCSPRA has been honored with three Mark of Distinction Exemplary Chapter Awards and a Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association.
Since its humble beginnings 50+ years ago, NCSPRA has emerged as the premier organization for school public relations and communications professionals in our great state. As we acknowledge our past, celebrate the present, and look to the future, we remain committed to providing networking opportunities, professional development programs, and resources and support for our members.
▪ 50th+ Anniversary Celebration
NCSPRA’s 50th+ Anniversary Celebration will be held November 2, 2022. The original event planned for May of 2020 was canceled and postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.