Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Chief Communications Officer Toni Konz Tatman was awarded the 2023 O.V. Jones Memorial Award from the Kentucky School Public Relations Association (KSPRA) at its spring conference March 24 in Owensboro.
The award, which is the top honor for school public relations in Kentucky, is named for O.V. Jones, a former superintendent of Grant County Schools and the first superintendent to join the KYSPRA. It is presented annually to a KYSPRA member for outstanding service to the organization and school public relations overall.
Tatman has been with KDE since January 2020. Prior to that, she was a communications coordinator for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and a journalist covering education in Kentucky and two other states for over 16 years.
Frank Shelton, the communications director for Knox County Public Schools, nominated Tatman.
“I nominated Toni Konz Tatman in recognition of her exceptional performance during COVID-19 and the positive changes in KDE communications since then,” Shelton said. “Toni rose to the challenge and demonstrated exceptional leadership, communication skills and professionalism during a worldwide pandemic.”
Shelton said Tatman “worked tirelessly to keep school employees, families and the Commonwealth updated about the latest developments” and her leadership has allowed KDE to grow its communications efforts and strategies.
“There is more information coming from the department than ever before, with the focus being Kentucky’s outstanding students and school staff,” Shelton said. “As a district-level communicator, I feel that I can reach out to Toni and her team any time and promptly receive an answer every time.”
Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass said Tatman is an “incredible communications professional, storyteller and person.”
“Her love and passion for education are evident in all she does,” Glass said. “We could not be more proud of her, nor could we imagine anyone more deserving of this award.”
Under her leadership, KDE’s Division of Communications oversees social media and graphic design efforts; publishes the department’s flagship publication, Kentucky Teacher; assists with the development of innovative online tools; serves the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council; and oversees all statewide student and teacher recognition programs, including the Teacher of the Year, Milken Award and U.S. Senate Youth Program.
Tatman said she was “humbled” to receive the award.
“I would not be here without my incredible team at KDE – they are always willing to try new things and come up with different ways to highlight the work of the agency, as well as tell the stories of our students, school employees and school leaders,” Tatman said. “Now more than ever, it is so important to be highlighting the great work taking place in Kentucky’s public schools.”
KYSPRA has 130 active members and is the Kentucky affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA).