JENNIFER SMITH

Jennifer Sutton Smith

MONROE — The North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA) has honored Union Academy Charter School for excellence in communications. Communications Director Jennifer Sutton Smith earned a total of 11 Blue Ribbon Awards for outstanding and effective communication. NCSPRA presented the awards during a virtual ceremony on Feb. 5.

UA received Gold/Silver/Bronze level awards for outstanding content in Image and Graphic Design, Digital Media Engagement, Publications, Photography, Excellence in Writing, and Special Events and Programs. The judges praised the work, “The heart for identifying and recognizing the contributions of individual students and faculty members is evident in Smith’s work. This is what school PR is about!”

Smith said in a press release: “The best part of my job is highlighting our students and staff for their accomplishments. Earning NCSPRA Blue Ribbon Awards is another way to showcase Union Academy.”

Ken Derksen, NCSPRA President and Communications & Public Relations Officer for Wayne County Public Schools, said the work of the award winners exemplifies the high standards and qualities members demonstrate in their daily school communications programs. “Blue Ribbon Awards are among the highest and most prestigious honors that a member of our organization can attain,” Derksen said. “I congratulate Union Academy for achieving this statewide recognition as a Blue Ribbon Award winner and for the superior work being accomplished in the area of school communications and public relations.”

NCSPRA recognizes outstanding communications through its Blue Ribbon Awards program each year. Union Academy was one of 41 school districts statewide and the only charter school to receive a Blue Ribbon Award.

This year’s submission categories included: Marketing, Digital Media Engagement, Electronic Media, Excellence in Writing, Publications, Image/Graphic Design, Photography, and Special Projects and Events. The Georgia School Public Relations Association judged NCSPRA’s 2020 Blue Ribbon entries.

During the Blue Ribbon Awards ceremony, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt paid tribute to award winners and thanked all North Carolina school districts for their efforts to effectively communicate during difficult times. “You have conquered the digital landscape in order to meet the ever-changing demands of this pandemic,” Truitt shared in her video message. “You have mastered the use of social media channels, video messages, and email sending platforms, and you have remained vigilant in the face of an overwhelming demand for answers. Most importantly you all have been steadfast in your determination to ensure that questions posed by parents and teachers have received the answers they require and deserve.”

NCSPRA is a statewide professional organization serving more than 150 members. Its mission is to build support for public education through well-planned and responsible public relations. For more information, go to the NCSPRA Facebook page or www.ncspra.org.