Introducing Kristin Burt, principal of LUCHA Elementary, a title 1 school in East San Jose that’s been distinguished as a 2016 California Gold Ribbon School. Mrs. Burt talks about how LUCHA has been using the Sangha app, powered by Edlio, to improve communication between the school and parents. As part of attending LUCHA, parents commit to volunteering 30 hours for the school year so school-parent communication is crucial. Hear what she has to say about the impact of Sangha on her school’s community.
On what makes Sangha stand out
Q: Any parting comments to share with other principals?
I would say that Sangha’s an incredible tool for helping to make your job easier, I feel like you can go around in circles trying to communicate with parents, but with this tool you really get an all-in-one stop shop. You can send out your newsletters via Sangha, you can message people directly about specific individual concerns, you can send out quick reminders to parents, and everything’s organized and easy. Teachers really find it as a useful tool for parent communication as well. And as a principal, I love that I can see all of the communication happening across the school so that when a parent comes up and has had a private conversation with a teacher, I have the context to understand what they’re referring to if they want to talk further about it or I can refer back to fliers that parents have received from teachers. And so having that ability to really, in a more organized way, see the communication at your school, is a great tool.
On life before Sangha/On problems LUCHA faced before using Sangha
Q: How were you communicating with parents before you started using Sangha?
We sent out weekly newsletters, we made sure that they got put in weekly communication folders to our students, we posted things to our website, but things get lost in students’ backpacks, things never make it to the parents. And so even though we were really diligent about sending the message out, we never truly knew if it was getting to the intended audience member and not just stuffed at the bottom of a backpack.
On how/why LUCHA decided to use Sangha
Q: How did you come to know about Sangha and why did you go with them?
We had been exploring a number of different options, but when we saw the layout and design of Sangha, I felt like to put it in the layout of a calendar just made so much more sense. I think that’s one of our takeaways from how we do our newsletters, when you see so much text and you’re just looking for those key details, you miss so much information. But if you’re seeing the layout in a calendar form, you’re getting pop-ups on the day of the event, the communication is so much more streamlined.
On how LUCHA optimized parent engagement using Sangha
Q: You are reaching 82% of your students’ parents, 60% via the Sangha mobile app , and the rest through email digest. How did you sign up so many parents in your first year?
The true piece that I think that got the majority of parents signed up, was when there was actually something that they needed to sign up for. I would say our biggest lever was parent-teacher conferences, or for us we do home visits at the beginning of the year. So all of our teachers go out and visit the students at their homes to establish those positive relationships. Our teachers scheduled these visits on Sangha.
On the support Sangha offers
Q: What’s your feedback on the app so far?
They’re always sending that information back to me as the principal, and saying “Oh yeah, here’s your principal, we’re cc’ing her in the loop making sure that she can help you get setup.” That strong response every time somebody reaches out to Sangha has been amazing, it’s a great feature, otherwise people can get frustrated and give up easily. But when you’re getting immediate feedback like that it really makes you continue to pursue and get onboard and get the issue worked out.
On how they plan on using Sangha going forward
Q: How are you planning on using your parents engagement more?
We could do even better about the field trip permission forms. We’re still going with the paper forms for now because it was harder to do the half and half management, but I think that’s a great asset to have for our students. Parents sign consent forms for students via Sangha.