WCPS state award

Representatives from Wayne County accepting a recent state award for effective communications included, from left, Ken Derksen and Steve Smith of Wayne County Public Schools; Selena Bennett, Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County executive director; Barbara Wilkins, success coach; and Gene Jackson, success coach.

A collaboration between Wayne County Public Schools and Communities Supporting Schools spotlighting school success resulted in a state recognition.

During the annual meeting of the North Carolina School Public Relations Association, the district and CSS were presented with a Blue Ribbon Award for Effective Communications for a video titled “A Community of Support: From Failure to Firefighter.”

WCPS was one of 31 districts to receive the award at the Feb. 1 gathering of school public relations professionals from across the state.

The school system’s department of communications and public relations produced the video during the summer in partnership with Communities Supporting Schools. The product helped launch CSS of Wayne County among the top 22 national finalists in the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s “True Inspiration Awards” grant competition.

Steve Smith, the district’s video and digital marketing specialist, produced and edited the video and collaborated with Gene Jackson and Barbara Wilkins, both school successes in the CSS program, said Ken Derksen, communications and public relations officer for WCPS.

“This video captured the impact and success that the CSS of Wayne County’s success coach program and other wraparound services can have for WCPS students,” Smith said. “By telling the story about Travis, a Goldsboro High School graduate and now a city of Goldsboro firefighter and EMT, those watching the video were able to see firsthand how CSS of Wayne County support can dramatically turn a student’s life around.”

Through its partnership with Wayne County Public Schools, CSS has eight success coaches who provide one-on-one support to elementary, middle and high school students considered at risk of dropping out of school. CSS also operates three community-based programs, including Teen Court, a mediation program and a community service program. The programs focus on helping students stay in school and successfully graduate.

“While there are success stories of varying levels occurring every day in all of our schools, this award-winning video went further by elaborating on a significant success story, which could have only occurred through community partnerships,” Derksen said.

Selena Bennett, executive director of Communities Supporting Schools, echoed the sentiment.

“The fact that our organizations work so closely together to provide services for our students speaks volumes for how we can accomplish the best outcomes for the students that we serve in this community,” she said. “This video highlights each of the community partners who have worked extremely hard to reach our students by working together.

“We are very fortunate to have these relationships and are appreciative of Wayne County Public Schools for their support in helping produce an award-winning video to educate and increase awareness about our programs.”