SWBOCES school PR Team sets new mark with 22 national awards

Video Service, launched in 2022, takes four 1st-place awards for 2nd straight year

NSPRA logo

For the third straight year, the Southern Westchester BOCES School Communications team has bested its own record in the National School Public Relations Association's 2024 Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards, taking home 22 awards overall, including 11 first-place honors.

Public Relations Specialists Natalia Baage and Anthony DiNoto led the way for the SWBOCES team. Ms. Baage won the most awards on the team with five, while Mr. DiNoto won the most first-place Awards of Excellence with four. In 2023, the team combined to win 19 NSPRA awards, in 2022 they won 14, and in 2021, the number was 11.

The award winners were announced June 21 and will be recognized in person at the NSPRA annual conference in Seattle inJuly. All contest entries were judged against those from similar organizations from across the country on their overall excellence and comparative quality.

"I continue to be proud and amazed at the quality of work by our growing communications team," Director of Communications Brian Howard said. "For our peers in the field of School P.R. to continually recognize us this way is deeply gratifying, as is the recognition by school districts in our region that Southern Westchester BOCES is the place to go for communications expertise, experience and passion for storytelling."  

The 22 awards came in nine distinct categories. A newly created Video Production service was launched a year ago, securing four NSPRA awards for the second straight year. 

Natalia Baage portraitPublic Relations Specialist Natalia Baage won two first-place Awards of Excellence, one in the Excellence in Writing category for Girl Power: Greeley Athletes Thrive Thanks to Friendships and one in the Social Media category for  Greeley Sports Instagram 2023-24: Creating Connection and Care by Championing our Chappaqua Athletes. Her two second-place Awards of Merit came in the Social Media category for Applauding Their Legacy: Celebrating our 12th-Grade Athletes’ Final Lap with “Senior Spotlights” and in the Website category for Valhalla Schools Website Redesign: Revamping Our Digital Hub for Improved Connection and Navigation. Ms Baage also won a third-place Honorable Mention for Social Media for Increasing Transparency and Sharing Our Viking Spirit through Valhalla’s Facebook Page.

Anthony DiNotoPublic Relations Specialist Anthony DiNoto won two of his four first-place Awards of Excellence in the Video category for Redefining Success: A Portrait of Greenburgh-Graham School DistrictandInside Pocantico Hills: Fall 2023 Quarterly Update, which he produced in collaboration with Ms. Smith. His other two first-place awards were in the Marketing Material category for Celebrating Thomas Cong's Achievement in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2024 and in the Newsletter category for O-News: News, Honors & Achievements from Inside the Ossining School District

alicia smith

Public Relations Specialist Alicia Smith took two first-place Awards of Excellence, one for her collaboration on the Pocantico Hills Spotlight quarterly video newsletter and another for her photo of the Elmsford Wreaths Across America flag ceremony. She also received a third-place Honorable Mention for Excellence in Writing for her piece for the Blind Brook School District, A whale of an event at BMPRSS.

Jeff BraunGraphic Illustrator Jeffry Braun won a first-place Award of Excellence in the Special Purpose Publications category for the 2023 Tech Expo Program. Mr. Braun also won two second-place Awards of Merit, one in the Handbook/Guide category for the Ossining Employee Handbook and another in the Newsletter category for the UFSD of the Tarrytowns Newsletter

brian howardDirector of Communications Brian Howard received a first-place Award of Excellence for Excellence in Writing for his piece, Retiree Spotlight: CTE instructor retires, one more time. He won two Photography awards for images of SWBOCES Special Services programs, a second-place Award of Merit for Student gardens provide a unique learning opportunity during summer program and a third-place Honorable Mention for Special education student enjoys work-based learning experience at a nearby eyeglass shop. He also was awarded a third-place Honorable Mention in the Websites category for the Southern Westchester BOCES website redesign.

Cara tomao portrait Public Relations Specialist Cara Tomao took two first-place Awards of Excellence for her Photography for image of SWBOCES Culinary Arts students, Baked with Love, and a scene from a Tarrytown classroom, A Pledge to Kindness and Inclusion. Ms. Tomao won a second-place Award of Merit for her Tarrytown News Release, Washington Irving embarks on a virtual meet-up journey through the esteemed Global Connections Program by One World. She also won a third-place Honorable Mention for Excellence in Writing for Students in the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns Spread Kindness.

NSPRA is the leader in school communication with a mission to advance education through responsible communication. NSPRA’s Publications and Digital Media Awards recognize outstanding education publications and marketing/informational materials (print and electronic), video/TV/radio programs, social media and websites. The submissions are adjudicated by veteran educational communications professionals across the country who have long-standing expertise in the categories they judge.