Cape School District communications director wants to inform community

Monday, January 20, 2014
Dana Saverino, the new communications director of the Cape Girardeau School District, poses in her office Thursday. (Fred Lynch)

In her new job as communications director of the Cape Girardeau School District, Dana Saverino combines her passion for children, organizational skills and her yen to be creative.

"I'm all about working as a team, and so, with that in mind, I tried to see what I could do to bring it all together. And if I went into PR and advertising, I could work with children, but also help guide different things [and] also enjoy doing the creative side as well," Saverino said.

In her new position, which she started Jan. 6, she'll be working toward a number of different objectives: better communication within the district, more parental involvement, networking with teachers and principals, plus regular postings on Facebook and the district's website.

All of it is aimed at getting the word out about activities and achievements at the campuses and district.

"One of the things I am really excited to do is create a really strong community atmosphere within the district. I want to make sure our staff and teachers know what's going on and build that internal communication, and then, once the internal communication [is in place], I'm ready and excited to build out the community involvement so parents and our community leaders all know exactly what the Cape Girardeau District means and what they represent," Saverino said.

Getting to know principals and teachers also enables her to spread the word about what schools are up to and their accomplishments and get the information out online and to media outlets. She also wants to work with coaches to let people know about events taking place so they can support their teams and athletes.

Recently, she went live with a Twitter account, @capetigers, where she plans to report information on athletic events going on, or linking to something on the website that's just been posted. She also plans to repost items from United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters to attract more community involvement.

There's also CGJungle, the student fan base, run by students, from which Saverino wants to retweet items.

"Besides the social media," Saverino said in an interview Thursday, "I've also worked on their website. Kris Oliveria, who is in their IT department, he actually is the main person behind that website. He did a fantastic job.

"I just work side by side with him, at this time, to keep it updated and keep it fresh. I'm in the process of ... taking that on. On day 9, still learning things [on the website]."

So far, Saverino said, she's enjoying herself and has had a chance to tour several campuses.

"It's been a wonderful adventure since the beginning," she said, adding she appreciated being able to sit down with superintendent James Welker, assistant superintendent for academic services Sherry Copeland, assistant superintendent of support services Neil Glass and director of special services Deena Ring to get a good idea of their expectations and goals to set.

Copeland, along with the superintendent, assistant superintendents, the special education director and a representative from the technology department, were involved in hiring Saverino. The tech department has a close relationship with the communications director because part of the job is highly technology based, she said.

A variety of factors made Saverino an attractive candidate for the district, Copeland said.

"Her education, her previous experience, her expertise, and honestly, her personality," she said. "It was a good fit for Cape Public Schools."

Steve Robertson, who retired as communications director last fall, had been full time at different points, but wound up as part time. The position was meant as full time, Copeland said.

"In this day and age and with a district our size, we definitely need a full-time person and I think the gap from when Steve left to when Dana came on, it really highlighted the fact that we needed a full-time communications director because everything kind of shut down from a marketing side, from an information side of disseminating information. ... We all have big jobs and we didn't have time to do her job and our job ..." Copeland said.

" ... I couldn't believe how much I actually relied on him [Robertson] until he wasn't there," she added. " ... I was so happy when she [Saverino] started."

Saverino holds a bachelor's degree in public relations and advertising from Southeast Missouri State University. Previously, she was advertising manager at Isle Casino Cape Girardeau; did public relations and was sales director at the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau; and worked at the Crystal City Business Improvement District in Virginia, where she did its social media and many of its events.

Born in Landstuhl, Germany, Saverino is married to Nate, who is assistant athletic director for external affairs at Southeast. Saverino's father, Gary Gordon, worked for the government managing or running various nonmilitary activities -- such as golf courses and youth programs -- at different Air Force bases. Now her father and mother, Debra, live in Belleville, Ill., where he is a substitute teacher and her mother is a speech pathologist at the school district.

rcampbell@semissourian.com

388-3639

Pertinent address:

301 N. Clark St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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