Less than two years into leading the Lewisville Independent School District, Dr. Lori Rapp’s focus on better ways to communicate with students, parents, and the communities LISD serves has received national recognition.
She was among 25 people nationwide announced in December as 2023 Superintendents to Watch by the National School Public Relations Association. The honor is for superintendents with less than five years of experience who employ innovative and effective applications of technology to engage and inform their school community.
“It’s nice recognition, and I appreciate that they thought the communications work that we are doing in the district was worth recognizing,” said Dr. Rapp, who has been a part of LISD for 28 years and was named 2023 Superintendent of the Year by the Texas PTA.
Since taking over for the retired Dr. Kevin Rogers in February 2022, she has spearheaded various communication programs including monthly newsletters, video updates, social media posts, and the LISD mobile application. In 2022, she initiated the Recognize SomeONE online platform promoting extraordinary staff efforts. She also introduced advisory committees including Brand Ambassadors, Key Communications, and Student Advisory.
“Having been in the district as long as I had been, one of the things I was able to see was a need for people wanting a regular cadence of communication from the superintendent, from the district,” she said. “So, it really presented an opportunity to get the superintendent role, thinking how to go about doing superintendent communications differently.
“I was very passionate about working with our communications team on my social media presence, along with the newsletters that we send to the families in the community regularly, and with the staff communications. And then we recently launched our district app.
“One of the things I think is really important — as large as our district is — is that people know they are going to hear from the superintendent and have the opportunity to be informed about initiatives and important issues and challenges that the school district is facing.”
Since the 2015-16 school year, NSPRA has recognized 152 school district leaders with a record 70+ nominations received this year. Dr. Rapp will join other honorees at the NSPRA 2024 National Seminar in Seattle/Bellevue, Washington, in July.
“I had the opportunity with everything we’ve been through during the pandemic to watch how communications channels were being utilized to keep people updated, whether it be email or in our case phone calls to families,” she said. “There was the opportunity to set up and keep that regular communication going.
“I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from families, a lot of appreciation from staff for the regular communication, and a lot of good feedback on social media about all the great things happening in our school district and happening in public education to serve as an advocate for public education and how it brings the community together.”
Dr. Rapp said the communications strategy is among her proudest achievements so far.
“Yes, our communications strategy is one of the things that I’m very proud of, but what I’m most proud of is how our community is coming together to support our schools and our staff,” she said. “Coming out of the pandemic, we’re facing a statewide and a nationwide educator shortage. I talk with our community members about the importance of ‘we’re all going to have to be part of the solution’ to keep our schools staffed with high-quality educators to provide for our kids.”
To combat the perception that people don’t care about teachers and staff, we’ve received more than 4,000 Recognize SomeONE submissions during the fall semester.
“One of the things I think makes public education so special is our community schools,” she said. “We live in a wonderful county in Denton County. We span 127 square miles of wonderful communities, so the more we can stay together as a local community to support our schools, the better. I believe our children are the future of our society and communities.
“I’m proud that our communications approach is one of the things that’s bringing our community together because when you are in a district this large, it can be challenging for people to feel a part of it. I think what we’re doing is bringing people together as Lewisville ISD.”