Superintendent Melba Luciano of Osceola County Public Schools is this year’s “Outstanding Superintendent Communicator,” an honor handed out by the Sunshine State School Public Relations Association (SUNSPRA). Luciano accepted the award Thursday in Tampa at the 70th Annual Joint Conference of the Florida School Boards Association.
Having joined Osceola County Public Schools 29 years ago as a classroom assistant, Luciano rose through the ranks and was named superintendent in 2012. Under her leadership, the district’s volunteerism is at an all-time high, up 15 percent alone in just one year.
Luciano places such an emphasis on STEM programming (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) that the Osceola County Commission, city council, education foundation, and a local theme park all pledged over $1.4 million this year alone to grow more STEM classrooms. As well, Luciano’s district has the nation’s first mobile STEM lab.
Community leaders describe Luciano as a “fiscally-responsible public policy expert who focuses on student achievement and increased public and parental support, and builds bridges with virtually every aspect of the community.” One college president says Luciano’s “enthusiasm and passion are abundant when delivering good news, and she’s able to deliver bad news with compassion and care.”
Osceola County Public Schools, located in Central Florida, serves over 59,000 students, nearly 7,000 employees, and navigates an annual $454 million budget.
A committee of judges Accredited in Public Relations (APR) and Certified Public Relations Counselors (CPRC) scored this year’s entries. Judges included Chris Carroll, Donate Life Florida; Cheray Keyes-Shima, Florida Public Relations Association; Leah Lauderdale, Polk County Public Schools; and Jennifer Moss, Silverstein Institute.
Blackboard, a leader in school communication platforms, returned as the exclusive sponsor of this year’s award.