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 Local School Communicators Receive Top Statewide Honors

​Two San Diego County school communication officers were recognized with top honors by the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA) this week.

San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) Chief Communications Officer Music Watson, APR, received the Communicator of the Year award, and Poway Unified School District Director of Communications Christine Paik received the Emerging Communication Leader award.

The special recognition awards were presented at the annual CalSPRA Seminar held this year in Santa Rosa.Music Watson received the CalSPRA Communicator of the Year award

"I'm not often speechless, but I was that night," said Watson, who is the voice of SDCOE in the news media. "I am honored to be recognized with this award."

The CalSPRA Communicator of the Year award recognizes a school communication professional with five or more years of experience in school public relations, who has distinguished professional accomplishments, service to CalSPRA, and service to profession.

As the chief communications and public relations officer for the County Office, Watson is the architect of a comprehensive communications strategy for SDCOE which supports about 800 schools across 42 school districts serving more than 500,000 students and leads a team of five. She provides counseling and guidance to the county superintendent of schools, SDCOE leadership, school district superintendents, and school staff on existing and emerging issues impacting schools, as well as media relations and crisis communications.

In his letter of recommendation included in Watson's nomination, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold wrote: "In the past year alone, Music has seen our organization through a successful new logo and rebrand and the transition to an entirely new leadership team. We've seen the County Office grow stronger thanks to the strategic communication efforts she implemented."

Christine Paik pictured accepting her award from CalSPRA president.Poway Unified's chief spokesperson, Paik, began at the district in 2016 after 16 years as an on-air news reporter at ABC 30 News in Fresno. She hit the ground running and has grown a rich culture of communication among her schools and throughout her district. Using her experience, Paik maintains positive relationships with members of the news media and has incorporated video into communications campaigns aimed at growing student, family, and staff engagement.

"I am extremely honored and humbled by this award," Paik said. "School PR has been extremely challenging and rewarding; I am so blessed to have such incredibly supportive and talented colleagues."

The CalSPRA Emerging Communication Leader award recognizes a school communication professional with one to four years of experience, who already has demonstrably contributed to the profession and is expected to continue advancing the profession.