In October, the District 91 Board of Education approved the hiring of Rebecca Latham as the district’s new public relations/communications manager.
Latham, who grew up in Wauconda and graduated in 2014 with a degree in public relations from the University of Illinois, said she hopes to bring the community more information about what students are up to in the district through her new role.
“I think the more information for the community the better,” Latham said.
In her six weeks on the job, Latham has already stepped up posts to the district’s social media accounts. Recent posts include photos of middle school students attending the 2015 Northern Illinois Model UN conference in Chicago, students trying out Google Cardboard and posting short bios of members of the board of education to coincide with a week of national recognition for their work.
Board President Mary Win Connor, who was elected to the seat in April but has served on the school board since 2007, said Latham’s hire addressed a need the district has had for some time – better communication.
“When I joined the board, Facebook was still mostly just college kids,” Connor said. “Communications has evolved so quickly. Now information moves instantly.”
Connor said the district needed one person in charge of all the communicating the district has to keep up with. Previously, monitoring and posting to the district’s social media pages was divided among staff members with other responsibilities. The district’s social media network includes a Facebook page for the district, a Facebook page for each school, as well as a Twitter account and Google Plus page. All of these accounts are now overseen by Latham, who works with liaisons at each school to keep up with the flow of information.
Additionally, Latham will be responsible for sending out press releases about the district, as well as monitoring and responding as needed to online chatter about the district, according to Connor.
“We wanted more consistency in the district,” Connor said in regard to its communications. “It’s now centralized in one place. Things can happen a lot faster.”
Latham was selected from a pool of more than 50 applicants, which were narrowed down by a committee of administrators, according to Superintendent Louis Cavallo. About a dozen were interviewed for the position, with Latham coming out on top, he said.
“We’re very excited to have her with us. She definitely stood out in our interviews,” Cavallo said. “We’ve always seemed to feel like we could be communicating better with the community. … [Latham’s experience] will help us toward that goal.”
Prior to applying for the position, Latham was living in California and worked briefly as a community manager for Relay for Life. Latham said she moved back to the Chicago area to be closer to friends and family. The job at D91, she said, appealed to her interest in working with students. In college, Latham said she worked as a public relations intern for the university’s career center. Working with students and faculty was something she wanted to do again.
“One thing I really enjoy about the position is that it was for a school,” she said. “I’m excited about all the great things going on here.”
One of Latham’s newest initiatives will be starting to blog on behalf of the district’s school through a forum provided by the Forest Park Review. She encourages parents follow her posts, as well as the district’s Facebook page and the Facebook page for the schools their students attend, to see what kids are up to. Application forms and more detailed information will continue to be posted on the district’s website.
Latham will receive an annual salary of $55,000, including benefits, according to Cavallo.