APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy Receives National Communications Award

Superintendent Dr. Pat MurphyArlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick K. Murphy was selected to receive the 2019 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award, given by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and sponsored by West (SchoolMessenger solutions). Murphy will receive the award and be honored during the NSPRA National Seminar Tuesday, July 16, in Washington, D.C.

Since beginning his superintendency at APS in July 2009, Murphy has been on a mission to “build a community of communicators” in order to highlight student success, engage the community and underscore the importance of communications as a tool for learning and life.

Murphy was an early adopter on Twitter, and his presence on the platform had a ripple effect in his community. He connected with students, families and staff and encouraged district leadership to create their own accounts to expand their reach. There are now more than 750 Twitter accounts associated with APS, and more than 4,000 people follow his account @SuptPKM.

Over the past decade, he expanded the School and Communications Relations Department by adding new positions to boost leadership. He expanded the use of video to highlight instructional programs and instituted a practice that a communications plan must accompany each new program introduced or launched in the division, which allows for transparent communication among staff and the school community.

“The judges were particularly impressed with Dr. Murphy’s leadership in embedding strategic communication across the district. He worked with his team to develop a comprehensive 2017-18 Strategic Communications Plan, the first of its kind in the division’s history, which served as a roadmap for the communication efforts supported by the superintendent’s office. This in turn led to the 2018-2020 Superintendent and Executive Leadership Team Strategic Communications Plan, which guides the division’s work around employee engagement, grassroots communications and customer service management,” said NSPRA Executive Director Rich Bagin, APR.

Another APS accomplishment under Murphy’s leadership is the establishment of the communications hub Engage with APS!, where new initiatives, the division’s strategic plan process, capital projects and policy revisions can be found for timely community input. As a result, community engagement has become a central focus of the division and an expectation from families and staff. It was clear from the nomination that Dr. Murphy has been fortunate to have the full support and engagement of the School Board to elevate communications in the division.

“I have rarely met and come to know an individual like Dr. Patrick K. Murphy who understands and demonstrates the importance of communications as an integral component of an organization’s success,” said APS Chief of Staff Julia Burgos. “Throughout his tenure, Dr. Murphy’s consistent focus on expanding and strengthening the APS communications function, his modeling of the use of social media to share the school division’s narrative, and his grassroots approach to connecting with staff and the community are some of the key reasons that I was proud to nominate him for the Bob Grossman Leadership in Communications Award.” She further stated that, “Dr. Murphy attributes the effectiveness of these communications efforts to the work of the APS team as a whole, particularly school leaders and School and Community Relations staff who have carried out this work under his leadership.”

The Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award is given annually to a superintendent or CEO of a school district, education agency, service center or intermediate unit for outstanding leadership in school public relations and communications. It is named for Robert L. Grossman, APR, who was an NSPRA past president known and respected for his creative and strategic public relations practices and for his belief that the support and commitment of education leaders to effective school communications is vital to student and school success.

Learn more about the annual award and view past winners at https://www.nspra.org/awards/recognition_awards/grossman.