California is no stranger to wildfires. In October 2007, a series of fires ravaged the hills of southern California, from Santa Barbara County to the U.S/Mexico border. A state of emergency was declared in seven southern California counties where more than 1,500 homes were destroyed and over a half-million acres burned.
As the fires flamed, Kathleen Mock, the principal at St. Michael's School in Poway, CA knew she needed a quick way to communicate with school families. The witch Creek Fire, burning in northern San Diego, was getting uncomfortably close to the St. Michael's campus
Earlier that year, St. Michael's signed on with SchoolReach. When Poway residents received an evacuation order, Kathleen Mock knew it was time to set the SchoolReach system into action.
Prior to the wildfires, St. Michael's had never used their SchoolReach system. After the evacuation order was issued, Mock went to school and sent her very SchoolReach message."SchoolReach was a fantastic tool for me. I had never initiated a trial run for calling, so Sunday evening when I rushed to school to send my first message to cancel school, I had no idea how it would work."
SchoolReach instantly broadcasted Mock's message to parents, letting them know that school was canceled. Because SchoolReach is able to send messages to home, work and cell phone numbers, Mock felt secure that she communicated with parents, Mock felt secure that she communicated with parents, regardless of where they were. After the message was sent, SchoolReach also provided message delivery statistics for the principal to review.
As the week went on and the fires burned, Mock used her cell phone to keep parents updated on the school's status.
Unfortunately, three of St. Michael's families lost their homes to the fires. The St. Michael's campus, though was spared from any damage. In the end, this time-sensitive situation made a SchoolReach believer out of Kathleen Mock. "I have been singing the praises of SchoolReach to the entire diocese," said Mock. "This program has truly been a real God-send for us."