Building a Bridge to Anchor Success: A collaboration between Elementary and Junior High Parents

This is a guest post written by Penny Presley. Penny Presley currently serves as the Executive Director of the East Learning Community in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system, where she is responsible for providing leadership coaching and support to 28 schools. Prior to serving as a Learning Community Executive Director, Mrs. Presley was principal at Francis Bradley Middle School and Winding Springs Elementary in CMS. Mrs. Presley has also served as a classroom teacher, Dean of Students, and Assistant Principal, and has worked in the field of education for 22 years.

The transition between schools can be an overwhelming time for both students and parents. As students transition from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school, there are a lot of mixed emotions from nervousness to excitement. This transition affects young adolescents' in many ways including their academic experiences, which is why often times, parents are highly involved during the transition.

There’s a lot of participation from parents in the elementary level and as their kids transition into middle school, they have a lot of schools to choose from so it’s important for schools to think of marketing and branding strategies to help make the transition into a new school as smooth as possible.

As a middle school, we wanted to create a common connection between elementary and middle schools so that parents felt comfortable with something, and that something was ParentSquare for us. They were already using ParentSquare at the elementary level so it just made sense for us to bring it on as well. It paved the way for parents and made it very comfortable for parents to communicate with us.

We began communicating with incoming 6th-grade parents during the summer. Because many parents already had the app, they found it very welcoming. It was a great way for us to let them know what was happening in the first couple of weeks. Feedback from parents during the initial Open House visit was extremely positive. Comments included, “Thank you! The ParentSquare notifications helped ease my worries about what was going to happen. We were worried. It made my fear, this big life transition, that much better. Thank you for keeping us in the loop.” And as a principal, when you have even just one parent commenting on the communication, you know it’s worth it.

Prior to the ParentSquare notifications, we were utilizing the district Blackboard calling system and a variety of other web or email tools. While these certainly support communication and outreach, they aren’t as “grabby” as app notifications. Now, our parents can instantly send a direct message to any administrator or teacher. And best of all, they can see and engage with everything involving their child via the app. The social media like format makes it easy for anyone to use -- even low tech-savvy users! ParentSquare has proven to be a beneficial communication tool for both building and maintaining open lines of communication between school and families.

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