El Dorado High Achieves an All Time High, Reaching 99.7% of Their Families with ParentSquare

Mr. Justin Gatling, Assistant Principal of El Dorado High School, in Placerville, CA

Hi Justin, can you introduce yourself?

Justin Gatling Picture 2015.JPG

"Hi! Yes, My name is Justin Gatling and I am currently the assistant principal at El Dorado High. I have been in education for 17 years, serving my third year as the AP at El Dorado. Prior to this, I was a teacher and AP at Sacramento High for 12 years."

Can you tell me a little bit about the demographics of your school?

"We are a rural public high school serving 9th-12th grade located in Placerville, California. We currently have about 1200 students with a demographic breakdown of 75% Caucasian, 16% Hispanics, and 9% other. 4 out of every 10 students currently receive free or reduced lunch."

How were you communicating with parents before you started using ParentSquare?

"Prior to ParentSquare, we were using Blackboard to communicate with parents, but quickly found that families did not listen to voicemails and rarely ever read emails. Blackboard connect is very similar to PS, but it wasn’t as user-friendly and didn't have a free app."

"With ParentSquare, we can send updates from the school going out weekly to communicate with our families. Parents are notified each day at 10:30 am and 4:30 pm of students who are tardy or absent from class; parents know every day exactly what is happening with their kids."

Why did you decide to go with ParentSquare?

"We decided to go with ParentSquare because it is far more user friendly for not only our administrators but also our teachers and parents. The app is very clean and has been a great success in helping increase our parent engagement via pictures, invites, and event RSVPs."

 Were you evaluating other tools?

"Yes, we were evaluating several other tools including Remind. Remind looked like a great tool for teachers to use for classroom management, but it didn’t have all the features ParentSquare has like: conferences, sign-ups, volunteers, polls, calendar, RSVPs, etc. Plus, it didn’t have visibility for administrators at the school or district level. We needed a tool that was user-friendly, keeping up with the current times, and visually appealing and professional on the receiving end for parents. We also wanted to reach more families and we wanted to partner with a company that provided excellent customer service. With those on-site presentations we saw, ParentSquare was the perfect fit for what we were looking for."

You are reaching 99.7% of your students' families via ParentSquare. How did you sign up so many parents in your first year?

"With ParentSquare, parents don’t NEED to sign up, parents receive messages without being registered. Since ParentSquare integrates with most SIS, all family contacts are pulled and messages are automatically sent out to parents. Best of all, ParentSquare has provided us with reports with our bad data so our staff can reach out to immediately make adjustments to those bad emails and phone numbers."

How would you describe ParentSquare to a friend or colleague? 

“It’s a communication tool, Facebook like, with parents and schools. Administrators can send information and parents can respond to posts.”

What’s your feedback on ParentSquare so far?

"It’s been great. It’s user friendly so its easy on my end and on the receiving end. Parents come up to me and tell me how much they enjoy the app because they can setup their preferences on how they want to receive messages."

Would you recommend ParentSquare to others?

"Absolutely! It’s been amazing for us. We get great feedback from parents. The attendance piece alone has be phenomenal. Parents get a text and email twice a day about their child’s absence and they can respond right away with a note back to the school, something we’ve never seen in any other platform."

"ParentSquare offers us the reality of up to date information and connections to our school family, with special file links created to handle calendar information, emails and applications." 

Hola! ParentSquare Just Released Smart Two-Way Translation

Recent increases in English Language Learners (ELLs) enrollment suggests educators should be more prepared to work with ELL students and their families. ELLs can benefit greatly from parental involvement, but often as an educator, communicating with non-English speaking families can be difficult. Also, families may feel intimidated to get involved because of their limited English skills.

What if as educators, you were able to communicate to ELL families in their native language?

Now, with ParentSquare’s Smart Two-Way Translation, every direct message you send goes out in the family’s preferred language AND when parents write back in their native language, the message gets translated right back into English. See it live here:

ParentSquare Makes Life Easy For Parents And Teachers

Valerie Galindo is a teacher at La Cumbre Junior High School, who has children and step-children in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Her two youngest children are enrolled in First Presbyterian Preschool, her middle-school child attends Adams School and her eldest is a student at La Cumbre Junior High School. Being the concierge for a blended family of kids, as well as addressing the needs of students in her own classroom looks like a major fete, but Valerie credits much of her success in managing it all to the benefits of the ParentSquare program.

Prior to working with ParentSquare her only way to communicate with her students or the teachers of her own children was with hand-outs, fliers and individual emails or phone messages. Three years ago Mrs. Galindo was introduced to ParentSquare by the Adams school, and later in 2016 La Cumbre Junior High began using ParentSquare. Today all of the schools her children attend, including the preschool at First Presbyterian Church, are all using the ParentSquare communication technology that has become so valuable to teachers and parents.

“This time management tool is priceless to blended families, it is an easy to use program that provides real-time communication for parents on everything from school event coordination, student progress, volunteer data, and social activities instantly,” says Mrs. Galindo. A vitally important help to families using the ParentSquare technology are notifications sent when a student is falling behind in a class, giving parents advance notice to find a solution before the situation leads to a potential failure.

As a busy teacher and mother Mrs. Galindo views ParentSquare as a proven method for creating instant ongoing paperless communication that connects the whole family, including grandparents who are interested in their grandchild’s progress and activities. Not unlike Facebook parents can make comments that only those in their group can see. According to Mrs. Galindo “If grandparents sign up they can see photos of their grandchildren participating in special projects with their classmates.”

For families where both parents are working she considers it to be awesome. Not only does it provide a safe place to share parent comments, but it notifies every person on your list of important events, individual teacher messages, and emergency school alerts.  It saves time communicating needed information at a glance to both husband and wives who are trying to cover all the bases for their school children each day. “I so highly recommend ParentSquare and its positive impact on the relationship between teachers, students and parents using the system,” said Galindo.

eBook: 7 Habits for Building an Engaged Parent Community

eBook: 7 Habits for Building an Engaged Parent Community

Read this eBook to learn how Bob Bourgault, a leading principal has built a thriving school culture by practicing 7 effective habits for engaging students, staff and parents.

"If we think about students metaphorically as trees, for example, we know they need good soil in order to thrive. When educators and families fertilize these roots together, great kids will grow."

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