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Our school district, in the town of Dover, is part of a small community about 90 miles north of New York City. We have always been proud of the students in our district and on November 10, 2011, they once again gave us a reason to sing their praises.
On the weekend of October 29, 2011, the northeast experienced a major snowstorm that left residents in some areas without power for up to two weeks. Our school district itself was closed for 3 days due to not having power. Throughout the storm many families and businesses pulled together sharing whatever resources they had. Of course we used the SchoolReach system to notify as many people as we could about the school closing. With not many people having power, those who received the message had to send word to those who did not have power. Finally the town got power back and school re-opened; life resumed as normal. Everywhere you turned you heard stories of the storm: no power, no heat, whole freezers of meat being lost, hour-long lines at the one working gas station. It was quite an experience that seemed to bring our community closer together.
That sense of community closeness was displayed once again when the school district learned that the local food pantry's food supplies were depleted and that all of the meat in the freezers was lost. With the holidays just around the corner and no food for the needy in our community, we asked ourselves, "What can do we as a school to help?"
We decided to hold a district-wide food drive entitled "Dover Helping Dover." Students were asked to bring in $1 or one non-perishable food item. We wanted to have the shelves and freezers stocked before the holidays, which left us short on time. We decided that using SchoolReach would help us get the word out for our one-day "super drive". We sent the message out Wednesday night for our Thursday morning drive. The response was more than we could have ever imagined.
For starters, the downfall in the economy has hit our little community pretty hard. Forty one percent of our student population is classified as poverty level, and with the holidays coming, we didn't know how much "extra" people would have to give. But none of that seemed to matter once we saw the over-flowing boxes of food being brought in that morning and the students coming with not only a food items, but dollars to give as well.
Our district has approximately 1,500 students enrolled and we were able to collect 1,371 non-perishable food items and $880.49 to restock the food pantry. Student volunteers collected the food at all four of our buildings and delivered it to the food pantry, bringing tears to the director's eyes.
If it weren't for SchoolReach helping us get the word out quickly and efficiently, we wouldn't have had the success that we did. We, as a school district and a community, thank you.
Registrar / Data Administrator
Dover Union Free School District
As a new principal, one of my goals was to improve communication between home and school. One of my very involved parents put me in touch with the School Reach Program. This year we are seeing the best attendance rates at several of our programs EVER because I am able to remind parents through a phone blast, e-blast, text blast, or combination of all three.
Additionally, parents and teachers love the filtering capability so that I can send information to a specific grade level about an event that only pertains to their grade. 7th grade parents love it because I can send out information relating to service projects that our students need to complete as a Confirmation requirement. 2nd grade teachers like the ability to remind parents about meetings related to First Communion. 5th grade teachers use it to inform and remind parents about DARE graduation. We use it to remind parents about fundraisers, deadlines, and our new tuition program.
At our August 3rd Orientation and fee day, we experienced one of our largest turnouts, according to my secretary, who has been here for a number of years. We feel that it was attributable to the reminder blasts we sent through School Reach. On a more serious note, there was an incident in the community recently of an attempted child abduction. The office received a flier walked in by a representative of the police department. Because it was in an area near many of our students' homes, I immediately scanned it and sent out an e-blast with the information so parents could discuss the incident with their children. Several parents came into the office wanting to know why they didn't get that blast, only to find out that we had not received their School Reach information form and didn't have their information in the system.
Parents are talking about it, they are happy to know what is going on in real time, and it has greatly improved the interface between the school and the parents. And, since my "little" elementary school serves over 450 families, this is really important. We love School Reach, and now everyone from the School Board to the Parents Club to the faculty will come to me with the words, "Can we send out a blast about ...?" Communication through School Reach is a beautiful thing!
Mary Frances Porod
St. Daniel the Prophet School
It was a warm April afternoon in the Cameron County School District. The high school was quickly wrapping up what appeared to be a very normal day. The fire alarm rang, and it was quickly discovered that this was NOT a drill. A small electrical fire had broken out in the ceiling of our gymnasium. Everyone in the building was safely evacuated and accounted for within a matter of minutes. The fire drill process we rehearse time and time again was executed flawlessly.
Emergency responders from across our community immediately responded to the scene. Knowing there would be a rush of panic and fear throughout our rural community as parents received word of a fire, it was critical to get the message out that everyone was safe. Superintendent, Kevin O'Donnell and Assistant Superintendent, Lynn Hummel worked together to send out a SchoolReach message. This message was crucial in providing accurate information about what had happened, informed our parents that their children were safe and accounted for, and relayed to everyone that we were awaiting clearance from the fire department before re-entering the building. The SchoolReach call was a tremendous success!
In numerous meetings and dialogues with Emergency Responders, Board members, and others throughout the community the SchoolReach system and call was credited time and time again with being effective and a key tool in dealing with our emergency situation. As you walk the halls of our school today, we are reminded by t-shirts students and faculty wear which read "I survived the CCHS gym fire of 2011". When seeing the shirt we are reminded of how lucky we were to all remain safe, have fantastic emergency responders, and for SchoolReach!
Cameron County School District
St. Paul Elementary is a small private school in the North East corner of Arkansas. Since St. Paul is a private school it relies on donations from a variety of sources to help fund the school. The PTO at St. Paul's is very active and raised quite a bit of money over the last few years.
The PTO purchased the School Reach phone system last year and it was a hit! Parents were notified of weather closing and cancellations. The town was unfortunately one of the many towns caught up in the devastating floods that wreaked havoc over much of the Southern U.S. The phone system allowed the principal to keep parents and students aware of when school would be back in session. This system also served as a way of letting people know the school was safe and still standing.
The PTO was approached and asked once again to provide the phone system and without hesitation an agreement was reached. This year the PTO had planned a Fall Festival and live auction for their one and only fundraiser.
Our small school relies on fundraisers to provide "extras" for our teachers and their classrooms. The PTO is a 501C3 organization comprised of parents and teachers. We work together to raise money for the school, but we mostly want to raise awareness. We want our children to see how important their school is, and we also want the community to know that we do have an outstanding school with some very amazing and talented young people.
The PTO advertized the festival, and auction in many ways; banners, fliers around the school, letters to parents etc. Finally on the day before the event, a call was made to all of the parents reminding them of the festival that was set for the next day. The turn out was overwhelming. We netted over $4000.00 for our small school. This is an amazing feat considering we usually only net $1500.00-$2000.00 with our fundraisers.
The PTO firmly believes it was that call from the School Reach Program that helped to promote the event and served as an instant reminder. We are excited and plan to carry on using the automated system for EVERYTHING!
There is a canned food drive beginning this week, and we have a Christmas Bazaar planned for December. It is so nice to be able to place one call and the work is done for us. In these busy days the instant reminder is the key to the success for events, fundraisers, and important notices.
Thank you for this service and for the opportunity to help the parents at St. Paul Elementary stay informed and "in the loop." Parents can rest assured that if school is cancelled or any other issues arise they will be notified in a timely manner. The immediate reminders have helped the PTO earn more money than imaginable and given parents peach of mind. Thanks again School Reach!
St. Paul Elementary
It is the first day of school and 500 students arrive to campus on school buses from local districts that we have no information for. North Dayton School of Discovery is a charter school in Dayton, Ohio. Our school does not provide transportation for the students; instead, we must rely on the local districts to transport our students. While our little school tried to be proactive and meet with the districts prior to the start of school, the districts lack of follow through left us with a transportation nightmare! We had no bus information for any of our students. We had only been asking for this information for 3 weeks. We called the district, but kept receiving a dreaded recorded message that all circuits were busy. A tremendous feeling of dread overcame me as I envisioned 500 angry parents arriving to the school to pick up their children.
It was 5 minutes until dismissal and buses started arriving. The school had no idea which students to put on what bus. Now, all of the teachers were calling the local district. Parents were arriving to pick up their students very upset they had not received any information about busing. I raced for my office and shut the door. I took a deep breath and hit my computer. I logged into SchoolReach and launched a message to our parents regarding buses. I used all three of the features available in order to reach my parents fast! I explained to parents that dismissal would not be running as smoothly as we would have hoped for and I would highly recommend they pick-up their child. I continued to launch messages as buses showed up. Parents appreciated the communication even if they were upset. Two hours after dismissal, the last student left our building. Exhausted by the experience, what staff remained sat in the front office. RING! It is our fax machine, low, and behold it the missing bus routes. Better late than never!
I sent the staff home and my secretary and I went to work. We created a bus distribution list in school reach for each bus that was scheduled to transport for my school. I sent home a message explaining what happened with the buses and the contact numbers for the bus compounds. I could only apologize for the disorganization caused by transportation services not under my control. I also let parents know to contact our front office as we received a fax of bus routes 2 hours after dismissal.
My story does not end here, as the transportation nightmare continues. However, by utilizing SchoolReach, I created pre-recorded messages that we are able to launch when the buses do not show up, are arriving late, or have substitute numbers. The parents know they will receive a call, text, and email from me at 3:45 pm if there is a bus issue. The parents appreciate the communication and know that the transportation issue is out of the school's control. The happy ending to my story is the new phone app feature SchoolReach has launched. I am able to communicate any transportation issues with my parents from my phone even if I am out of the building. I honestly do believe that if it were not for SchoolReach, I would have a terrible situation on my hands. I know our NDSD thanks you for giving us the ability to communicate with our families and ensure the safe transportation of our children home.
North Dayton School of Discovery
St. Louis City Public School District made innovative use of their SchoolReach school notification system to help encourage and increase attendance on the first day of school. St. Louis City school officials reached out to Steven Jackson, running back for the St. Louis Rams, to record a message that was broadcast to all school families and parents over the weekend prior to the first day of school.
As with many urban school systems, first day attendance can be challenging. Reaching parents with timely information about the start of school and the importance of first-day attendance is a significant challenge. Mailed information does not always reach parents in time, and those letters that do can often be misplaced or forgotten. The timely phone call reminder from a well-known sports figure and role model for many St. Louis City students was the perfect solution.
St. Louis City Public Schools has been a SchoolReach user for many years and have used the service in the past for first-day reminders, but this was the first time a local celebrity was used to encourage first-day attendance. "We decided to enhance our first-day reminder program with a celebrity voice to increase the program's effectiveness," said Patrick Wallace, Executive Director of Communications. "SchoolReach was the perfect solution because it enabled us to deliver the power of a credible voice with compelling information literally hours before the start of school."
The results are in...through the use of the SchoolReach system, targeted first-day attendance numbers were achieved.
Executive Director, Information Technology
St. Louis Public Schools