Mr. Justin Gatling, Assistant Principal of El Dorado High School, in Placerville, CA
Hi Justin, can you introduce yourself?
"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."