The Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA) honored J.D. and Helen Ross among 35 public education individuals and teams for their outstanding communications work at INSPRA’s annual Distinguished Service Awards luncheon at the Bolingbrook Golf Club.
Receiving an Award of Excellence in the “Community Member” category, J. D. and Helen received recognition for their contributions to Joliet Township High School. The Ross’ are key communicators who foster cooperative partnerships between JTHS and the community, strengthening the support of education among all stakeholders.
In 2015, Helen included JTHS students in achieving the Joliet Zonta Club’s mission of improving the status of women worldwide by establishing a Charter Club for Joliet Central High School female students. Helen worked with Superintendent Dr. Cheryl McCarthy to secure approval from the Zonta membership comprised of over 100 women leaders.
Helen’s leadership resulted in the formation of the Fearless Females Z Club, which provides opportunities such as visits to ExxonMobil refinery where students meet with the Plant Manager and female employees from various departments. The Z Club also participates in highly visible projects and events where they meet elected officials and prominent community members.
Just as Helen is quick to support District 204, so is her husband, former Joliet Junior College President, J.D. Ross. In August of 2016, the District’s Strategic Planning team wrote a new strategy to address concerns regarding hiring practices and staff diversity. This sensitive topic called for the establishment of an Action Team comprised of diverse stakeholders. JTHS called upon J.D. to co-facilitate this team on a volunteer basis.
Graciously accepting the task, J.D. co-facilitated the largest Action Planning Team in the District’s history with over 40 members who met once a week for three months. The work was difficult and candid, but J.D.’s leadership resulted in quality action plans that the Board, Strategic Planning Team, and the community endorsed.
Helen and J.D. Ross are shining examples of dedicated community members whose support has increased knowledge of the Joliet Township High School District 204 Strategic Plan and the quality education provided to its students.
NSPRA chapter members from Nebraska, Tennessee, New York, Missouri, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Kansas, Oregon and Texas judged entries. Only those receiving top scores in a variety of areas received awards.
“INSPRA is very happy and proud to recognize and honor this year’s recipients for their excellent communications about public education,” said INSPRA President Ryan McPherrin, Director of Community Relations for Community Consolidated School District 93 in Bloomingdale.
“These awards rightly highlight some of the many people who help our families and taxpayers understand the vital role of public education. This work is more important now than ever,” McPherrin said.
The mission of INSPRA is to provide a source of connection, collaboration and professional development for school communicators in order to strengthen support for Illinois public schools, which leads to greater student success. Workshops and programs take place throughout the year, providing opportunities for members to learn and grow in their craft.
The Distinguished Service Awards luncheon is a highlight of the year and is attended by communications professionals, superintendents, board of education members and other school leaders.
To learn more about INSPRA, visit www.inspra.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Find photos from today’s event on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Illinois-Chapter-of-the-National-School-PR-Assoc-INSPRA-261942457172387/.