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Couple receives award for contributions to Joliet high schools

INSPRA recognized J.D. and Helen Ross during the Distinguished Service Awards.
INSPRA recognized J.D. and Helen Ross during the Distinguished Service Awards.

BOLINGBROOK – The Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA) honored J.D. and Helen Ross among 35 public education individuals and teams for their outstanding communications work at INSPRA’s annual Distinguished Service Awards luncheon at the Bolingbrook Golf Club.

Receiving an Award of Excellence in the “Community Member” category, J.D. and Helen received recognition for their contributions to Joliet Township High Schools. The Rosses are key communicators who foster cooperative partnerships between JTHS and the community, strengthening the support of education among all stakeholders.

In 2015, Helen included JTHS students in achieving the Joliet Zonta Club’s mission of improving the status of women worldwide by establishing a Charter Club for female students at Joliet Central High School. Helen worked with Superintendent Cheryl McCarthy to secure approval from the Zonta membership comprised of over 100 women leaders.

Helen’s leadership resulted in the formation of the Fearless Females Z Club, which provides opportunities such as visits to ExxonMobil refinery, where students meet with the plant manager and female employees from various departments. The Z Club also participates in highly visible projects and events where they meet elected officials and prominent community members.

Just as Helen is quick to support District 204, so is her husband, former Joliet Junior College President J.D. Ross. In August of 2016, the district’s strategic planning team wrote a new strategy to address concerns regarding hiring practices and staff diversity. This sensitive topic called for the establishment of an action team comprised of diverse stakeholders. JTHS called upon J.D. to co-facilitate this team on a volunteer basis.

J.D. co-facilitated the largest action planning team in the district’s history with over 40 members who met once a week for three months. The work was difficult and candid, but J.D.’s leadership resulted in quality action plans that the board, the strategic planning team and the community endorsed.

For more information, visit www.inspra.org.

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