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Ms. Kathleenann Cool’s background

Ms. Kathleenann Cool is principal of Lincoln Avenue Elementary School in Pearl River, NY.

Q: Hi Principal Cool! Can you introduce your school?

We are a Title 1 K-4 school with close to 220 students and we are a thirty minute drive north of Manhattan. This my sixth year as a principal at this school and my 24th year in education.

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The problem for us was that parents were receiving information from multiple sources. They would say: “I think the school sent an email or a message through one of the apps about this but I can’t find it!

Q: How were you communicating with parents before you started using Sangha?

Our communications were already mostly electronic. We had been using multiple tools to reach parents electronically. Only our PTA fundraising was still paper-based.

We were sending bulk emails that went out on Tuesdays and Thursdays which we called “coolblasts”.  We added Remind texting. Using Remind, we texted homework and special events. We were also using Signup Genius for events with signup requests, and our school website had flyers.

The problem for us was that parents were receiving information from multiple sources. Some parents were reading texts but not emails, or vice versa. They would say: “I think the school sent an email or a message through one of the apps about this but I can’t find it!’

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Q: How did you come to know about Sangha and why did you go with them?

We received an email from Sangha containing an interview with a principal in Illinois who was using Sangha. His school is a Title 1 school and so is mine. Sangha struck me as a good solution for us because we had already made a commitment to electronic communication with parents. It was clear right away that what Sangha did differently was to pull it all together into one tool instead of three or four different tools.

I also liked the fact that Sangha was created by parents, for parents and takes a holistic view of the problem instead of solving only a piece of the problem. That helped me sell the use of the app to parents when I told them that it was created by other parents. It reduced their apprehension to download the app.

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Q: You launched very quickly! Less than a week after our first meeting?

Yes! Less than a week after the demo! We saw the demo on November 2nd and we launched on November 5th.

We started sending out Sangha’s parent introduction emails before the launch introducing the new solution to parents and informing them that Sangha is coming and to make sure they knew to download the app and sign up… We told them that all our parent communications would be in one place and that they would love it...

We created a buzz by posting about Sangha on our Facebook and Twitter feeds and on our website and in our e-mail blast. And, we told our kids to tell their parents to sign up.

On November 5th, parents were looking for the invite and some emailed saying they hadn’t received it. It was probably in their spam folders! We directed them to check or to sign up through the self-serve option which we had posted on our website. We also told them that if they had any issues we would provide support during the parent conferences the following week.

At the time of the conferences, we hung signs over the front doors of the buildings where the parents needed to enter. In our office, we posted flyers on the windows and we had four laptops set up where we helped parents self-register and download the app.

88% of our parents signed up in the first 2 weeks!

We were using Remind, and I would have to remember to remind parents. That was a lot more work and with Sangha it happens like magic.

Q: What’s your feedback on the app so far?

I love it. It’s easy to use and everything is in one place. Parents are now saying: “I don’t have to remember.” We were using Remind, and I would have to remember to remind parents. That was a lot more work and with Sangha it happens like magic. Sangha allows me to setup and plan for today, this week, and months ahead, and parents have the same visibility and are automatically reminded. Parents particularly appreciate that all the information is in one place and that it’s pushed out to them through notifications with the details in the calendar app.

Sangha has been very supportive since the launch, and has supported me and our parents. They are quick to respond. That’s different from other tools where we haven’t had the same level support. We used Signup Genius for some tasks and it’s “go figure it out.”

It’s a whole-school solution for us and teachers see how much easier it makes their lives.

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Q: How are you and your teachers planning on using the app going forward?

Teachers have different levels of comfort. A few teachers are using Sangha a lot. Others are using it in bite-sized ways. As teachers see the benefits, they buy in. It’s a whole-school solution for us and teachers see how much easier it makes their lives.

Seriously, it’s so easy! You can really tell it’s created with parents in mind. With Sangha, both teachers and parents know what to do right away.

Q: Any parting comments to share with other principals?

Seriously, it’s so easy! You can really tell it’s created with parents in mind. If a technology product is difficult to use in the classroom, you can run teachers through professional development to help them use it. But you can’t do that with parents! With Sangha, both teachers and parents know what to do right away.

If anyone has any questions about my experience with Sangha and our launch process, I am more than happy to answer them!

 

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