Leaders in education waited with bated breath last week for the National Public Relations Association’s (NSPRA) announcement of their “Superintendents to Watch” recognition. Competition is fierce—only up to 25 school district leaders with fewer than five years of experience as the superintendent may be picked for this honor. Only the best of the best in the nation can earn this recognition.
And the best of the best has been recognized right here in Gwinnett County.
On this momentous Wednesday, September 2, Dr. Robert Downs, Superintendent of Buford City Schools (BCS), was selected for the “Superintendents to Watch” recognition!
In order to have been nominated, Dr. Downs must have accomplished all of the following in less than five years:
- Implemented a communication program for the district that includes both the use of new communication technology and more standard communication tools;
- Integrated communication goals and strategies into the district’s strategic plan;
- Maintained active, visible involvement in the district’s communication effort (such as tweets, blogs, face-to-face engagement activities, etc.); and above all,
- Demonstrated dynamic, fast-paced leadership with strong communication at its core.
Dr. Downs not only meets the standards for nomination but exceeds them with flying colors.
Laura Beth Short, Buford Middle School principal, supports so in her letter of recommendation. She writes, “It is evident that he not only feels it is important to gather input, but to show stakeholders he values their input. His thoughtful and analytical approach is appreciated, especially when he transparently communicates the decisions and the reasons behind why other options were not chosen.”
The work Dr. Downs has completed extends beyond the sphere of his school district; his work is appreciated by staff and stakeholders alike.
“One of the first qualities I noticed when Dr. Downs came to Buford was his humility,” says BCS Assistant Superintendent, Melanie Reed. “The relatability he shows in his regular communications has been the source of many compliments from our stakeholders.”
One such action, deserving compliments, has been Dr. Downs’s decision to purchase Canvas (learning management system) for the district. As Reed elaborates, “If I were to point out a single initiative that exemplifies the importance he places on communication, it would be the decision to purchase Canvas. We have over 35 languages spoken by families in our district, and Canvas provides the translation capabilities that will ensure all families have the ability to partner with us in their child’s education.”
In light of this achievement and the gracious words from his staff, Dr. Downs comments, “I am extremely humbled to be recognized by the National Public Relations Association and even more so by my staff’s recommendations and nomination. Transparent communication has been a consistent priority since I came to Buford last year.”
Congratulations to Dr. Downs for this recognition!