History of MOSPRA
The Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA) is the Missouri state chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). MOSPRA has four regions: Western (Kansas City and surrounding area), Mid-State (central, northeast, and southeast Missouri), Ozark (southwest Missouri), and Eastern (Greater St. Louis area).
After many conversations concerning the need for school public relations people to organize and affiliate with the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), Evelyn Balogh, (Ladue); Paul Koch (Ferguson-Florissant); and Verna Green Smith (Ritenour), met on April 24, 1963, to begin developing plans.
As chairman of the planning committee, Evelyn Balogh, together with Ida Bieber, Leroy Fritz, Bruce Deam, and Dick Weiss, discussed such a venture with Roy K. Wilson, executive secretary, at NSPRA’s 10th Annual Seminar. Encouraged by Wilson, the St. Louis group called a charter meeting for September 21, 1963. Charter members paid $5 for that privilege, and regular membership dues were set at $1.
The petition for the charter was filed with the national office in September 1963 and granted in December.
The Missouri School Public Relations Association was formed in the summer of 1979 by a “merger” of the Greater St. Louis Chapter and Show-Me chapters of the National School Public Relations Association and received non-profit status from the state October 7, 1983.
Expansion & Progress
Over the course of the next 20 years the association slowly grew, adding members in the metro areas, but also seeing mid-sized rural schools adding communication positions.
Prior to 2001, MOSPRA held a stand-alone Spring Conference. Members met at various locations to network and received professional development. In 2001, Roger Kurtz, former MOSPRA president, and Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) associate executive director, and David Luther of the Jefferson City Public Schools, worked together to develop a relationship between the two associations. This relationship led to a cooperative Spring Conference in 2001 and 2002, and then an official jointly held Spring Conference starting in 2003. The advent of the joint conference was mutually beneficial and led to additional school districts adding communication positions.
While MOSPRA members enjoyed the benefits of the MASA/MOSPRA Spring Conference, there was a call to provide deeper level professional development. In 2006, under the leadership of President Stephanie Smith (Fort Osage) and David Luther, the association held its *first Fall Conference in Kansas City. The Fall Conference focuses on one primary topic and delves deeply into the important communications, public relations, and marketing aspects of it. (*Prior to 2006 the association had smaller conferences at different points of the school year including the fall.)
To view a history of the MOSPRA Fall Conference, visit this site.
While several MOSPRA presidents had served consecutive years in that role, it was clear that such continuity would be beneficial to association on a regular basis. In 2013, under the leadership of President, Zac Rantz (Nixa) and President-Elect, Michelle Cronk (North Kansas City) MOSPRA officially changed the by-laws to note that the positions of president, secretary and treasurer would be two-year terms.
While the association was stable with a volunteer board and key committee chairs, MOSPRA President Michelle Cronk (2013-2015), initiated discussions to investigate hiring a part-time administrator, and in October 2014, the Board voted to approve David Luther as the association’s first executive director.
During the ensuing years, MOSPRA experienced significant growth. Working with MASA, MOSPRA members provided communication workshops for districts across the state. These workshops lead to districts adding a communication position or designating key personnel to assume some of the communication duties.
From 2014–2022, the association grew from approximately 135 members to nearly 240. Smaller school districts began to recognize the value of a communications professional, and larger district saw the need to add staff to the existing communications departments. Furthermore, many school superintendents joined MOSPRA to receive the benefits of the association.
Leadership and Recognition
The primary reason for MOSPRA’s success can be attributed to dedicated, visionary leadership. Strong boards, and committee chairs with a passion for the organization, have been a mainstay for the Association. Visit this link to view all MOSPRA past presidents.
Many MOSPRA members have gone on to lead at the national level. As of 2022, Four MOSPRA members have served as presidents of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) including Jim Dunn, APR (Liberty), Dr. Marsha Chappelow (Ladue), Dr. Nora Carr, APR (formerly of Cooperative School District of St. Louis) and Nicole Kirby, APR (Park Hill). Several others have served on the NSPRA Executive Board including Dunn, Kirby, Chris Tennill, APR (Clayton) and Melissa McConnell (Belton).
Many MOSPRA members have been recognized at the national level as well:
- NSPRA President’s Award: Nora Carr, APR (2010)
- NSPRA Barry Gaskins Legacy Mentor Award: Jim Dunn, APR (Liberty) (2008), David Luther (MOSPRA Executive Director) (2015), and Jill Filer (Harrisonville) (2022).
- NSPRA Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award: C.J. Huff (Joplin Superintendent) (2012)
Who We Are
MOSPRA is dedicated to providing citizens with a better understanding of the objectives, accomplishments, and needs of the schools within our communities.
MOSPRA's greatest asset is the strength of its network of professionals. The organization has a great history of working collaboratively to assist member districts in better meeting the communications and public relations needs of its community. The association also places emphasis in helping other educational associations with the message of the impact of quality public education.
Whether it be helping districts with campaign strategies, providing assistance with how best to provide important student assessment data to parents, or helping a school district that is dealing with tragedy or crisis, MOSPRA is the leader is school communications and public relations.