Tyler schools spokeswoman always on call

Communications Director for TISD, Dawn Parnell, Courtesy

Dawn Parnell doesn't get summers off like a lot of the Tyler Independent School District employees.

Before the end of the school year wraps up, she is planning for the next year. And although the summer out-of-school season might slow down a bit, she stays pretty busy year round.

Mrs. Parnell has been the communications director for TISD since November.

As the official spokeswoman for the district, she works with media relations, oversees the district's cable station Channel 19 and social media. She also oversees special events, such as the Teacher of the Year banquet and retirement celebrations, as well as any volunteers in the district.

Through the Partners in Education Program, she tries to get local businesses involved in the schools by becoming mentors, being a part of the reading buddy program, after- school program or any other type of involvement, she said.

Mrs. Parnell grew up in the Fort Worth area and studied at Tyler Junior College for two years before earning bachelor's and master's degree in communication and journalism from the University of North Texas.

"I had a passion for the communication field and nonprofit work," she said.

She worked for two years for the Lufkin Chamber of Commerce and 10 years for the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce. As vice president of the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau, she helped market and promote the city of Tyler to visitors.

Mrs. Parnell went on to work for seven years for Killeen ISD as director of its education foundation, a nonprofit organization that helped raise money for programs. She also worked for a few years in the Permian Basin district as executive director for Communities and Schools, a nonprofit that helped at-risk students get food, clothing, shelter and other necessities.

Mrs. Parnell said she wanted to get back to Tyler to be closer to her mother and extended family. In November, she took the job at TISD.

She said working in the education field is a "great merging of my two passions. I love communication and working with people … and what better way to do that then to help young people."

Mrs. Parnell said she works to make sure they communicate correctly to parents and students to help make sure they have what they need to be successful.

Mrs. Parnell and her husband of 19 years, Dennis, have a 12-year-old daughter, Natalie, who is in seventh grade at Hubbard Middle School.

In her off time, she likes to spend a lot of time with family, travel when she can and be involved in community activities, such as church. She also likes to read.

She said she wanted to take some time to settle into her new position at TISD, but one of her goals is to become involved with community nonprofit organizations – anything to do with education, animals and her daughter's school, she said.

On Thursday, Mrs. Parnell said the district was busy making final plans and preparations for the new school year. The convocation to welcome teachers back is set for Aug. 23.


If you know of a professional woman or business service in the Tyler area you think should be highlighted in this column, contact Business Editor Casey Murphy at cmurphy@tylerpaper.com or 903-596-6289.



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