Detroit Public Schools to improve parent and community communications

Detroit Public Schools is slated to vastly improve its communications outreach to parents and the community by increasing usage of its social media tools and ramping up broadcasts about school news and sports via social media and live-streamed video.

Being launched immediately are a new Twitter feed – twitter.com/DPSschoolnews — which will be used to inform the community, parents and alumni of the great things happening in the Detroit Public Schools – and an official district Facebook fan page, where the school system will post regular news, photos and calendar items about Detroit Public Schools.

The new Official Detroit Public Schools Fan Page can be found on Facebook.com.
Fans of Detroit Public School League athletics can stay abreast of the latest happenings involving our outstanding teams by becoming a fan of “Detroit Public School League” on Facebook.com.

The district also plans to begin live-streaming press conferences and will hold regular community updates via live-streamed video by Emergency Financial Manager Robert C. Bobb, Chief Academic and Accountability Auditor Barbara Byrd-Bennett and others.

The communications office has also added two communications experts, Kisha Verdusco, a former Assistant City Editor of the Detroit News, and Chuck Johnson, a former sports reporter at USA TODAY. Both will serve as program supervisors for media and new media, with Johnson specializing in sports and Verdusco specializing in areas ranging from finances to school news. They will immediately work to expand the schools’ and the district’s use of communications vehicles such as Twitter, Facebook, live-streamed video and others.

As an Assistant City Editor at The Detroit News, Verdusco oversaw coverage of Detroit Public Schools and Higher Education in Michigan, among other topics. Prior to that she was a Local News Editor at the Ocala Star-Banner in Ocala, Fla., where she supervised business and local reporters and served as Special Sections Editor and as Managing Editor of the award-winning M magazine, a project of the Ocala Star-Banner. She also was a copy editor and page designer.

Verdusco holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Central Florida and is a past fellow of the Maynard Institute Media Academy at Northwestern University as well as other leadership training programs. She is a co-founder and past president of The Sircle Inc., a non-profit cultural organization based in Ocala, Fla. and was a recruiter for New York Times Regional Newspaper group. Verdusco also served on the faculty of New York Times Journalism Institute.

Johnson, a distinguished sports journalist who formerly covered major league baseball and boxing for USA TODAY, is also a featured boxing columnist for HBO.com.

Within DPS, Johnson’s role will be to create and implement a comprehensive media strategy to promote the city’s Public School League athletics through New Media tools and techniques. He will also be working with new Athletic Administrator Alvin Ward to improve participation in sports and at sporting events.

A proud Detroit native, graduate of Michigan State University and former DPS PSL athlete, Johnson has also reported on the National Football League and National Basketball Association. Prior to joining USA TODAY in February 1988, he was a sports writer and columnist for nearly 13 years at the Flint (Mich.) Journal where he was the Detroit Pistons and NBA beat writer for Booth Newspapers.

He also covered the Thomas Hearns-Sugar Ray Leonard welterweight showdown in 1981 among other major fights during Detroit’s renaissance as a boxing hotbed in the 80s.

Johnson covered major league baseball for 18 of his 20 years at USA TODAY, highlighted by frequent exclusive interviews with some of the game’s most controversial and least accessible stars, including Barry Bonds, Albert Belle and Jose Canseco. He is a Hall of Fame-voting member of both the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Johnson is the founding president of the former Mid-Michigan Association of Black Journalists and is a long-time active member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

His body of work earned him recognition as the 2000 Sports Journalist of the Year by the NABJ Sports Task Force, of which he has served multiple terms on the board as parliamentarian and sergeant at arms. He also served as vice president of NABJ’s Washington DC chapter.

Johnson made his movie debut in 2006, portraying himself as a boxing writer in Rocky Balboa.

In 2008, he was inducted into the State News Alumni Association Hall of Fame in honor of his illustrious career since he was a staff writer for Michigan State University’s student newspaper.
The district is also increasing its programming with two new shows with time slots to be announced on the district-owned WRCJ 90.9 FM radio station.

Every Sunday night, listeners can tune in for the Centers of Excellence Program produced by the students of Golightly Career and Technical Center. This program will feature news and interviews about DPS newsmakers, athletics, academics and parental community information — all produced, recorded and presented by the students of Golightly.

A second student-produced monthly program will feature news, information and the talented work of Detroit Public School students in the fine arts programs found throughout the district. Each month, a different DPS fine arts program will be highlighted, showcasing the individual and group work on that program. Where possible, DPS students will also feature interviews with newsmakers and guests from Metro Detroit’s cultural community.

These two new programs are in addition to the monthly program – the Detroit Public Schools Radio Program — which airs at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month.

In the past year, Detroit Public Schools has vastly expanded its communications outreach through a Web site redesign that is designed to inform parents and the community of DPS news and events. The district also has its own Twitter account – www.twitter.com/detroitk12. Bobb, the emergency financial manager, has a Facebook fan page and Twitter account – www.twitter.com/RobertCBobb

Contact: Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542 or Jennifer Mrozowski at 313-873-8401

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