Lumpkin County's Recipe for Academic Success: Prioritizing Family Communication
Finding the Clear Path Forward
When Superintendent Dr. Rob Brown joined Lumpkin County School District in 2016, he made Family communication a central component of the district’s strategic plan. “When we developed our school system strategic plan, we wanted to include the necessary components that would help every student in our district have an avenue for success,” says Superintendent Dr. Robert Brown. “Because we believed that Family and Community Engagement was such a critical piece, it became one of the four pillars of our plan.
He tasked Jason Lemley with finding a new tool that gave leaders the ability to stay informed and develop better communication. But in the beginning, there were challenges to overcome. “There was no clear plan in place,” says Director of Community Engagement, Jason Lemley. His North Georgia school district wasn’t always as well-positioned for Family engagement as they are today.
Existing Solutions Didn’t Fit All Their Needs
Some communication tools were already active throughout the district but were not providing the details Brown and Lemely wanted. “Of course, you also had teachers who weren’t doing any of those things,” says Lemley. “They weren’t using any specific tool.” Lemley will tell you that none of those solutions quite fit the bill. “There was no oversight.” With hundreds of conversations taking place each week between the school and home via teachers, principals, nurses, and more, Lumpkin County Schools needed organization and transparency.
“Families send us the most important piece of their lives each day: their children,” says Superintendent Brown. “We need Familys to see our schools as their partner in, not the owner of, their child’s education. Our efforts to be proactive with purposeful communication is to develop that collaborative mentality. We believe our students have the best chance for success when their Familys and the school have a positive relationship. All relationships need effective, frequent communication to thrive.”
Finding the Right One-Stop Solution
With a vision in place, Lemley and his team began searching for a tool that would show where communication with Familys wasn’t happening, where it was, and what was being said. “We needed a way to evaluate and measure engagement with Familys,” shares Lemley. “We were going to do our due diligence for what we were looking for, which at the time was just two-way communication with some oversight.”
What we found was that SchoolStatus would provide that solution with the oversight and the measurements that we were looking for.” – Jason Lemley
Lumpkin County School District soon found that SchoolStatus Connect delivered even more than the district was originally looking for. “What was more impressive was that SchoolStatus [Connect] provided us with a method for informed conversation.”
Leveraging Data-Driven Conversations
SchoolStatus Connect integrates assessments, benchmarks, and more to put student data on the same screen as Family communication tools. Each communication whether a call, text, email, or video chat becomes a record in the digital student profile. The combination of traditional student data and Family communication data creates a comprehensive view with a whole-child approach.
Boosting Compliance Through On-Demand Data
K-12 educational institutions must follow laws, regulations, and internal policies to ensure the smooth running of activities. That means providing proof that Familys have been informed on things like Special Education measures. “Our Special Ed Department, our Special Ed Director, and our Special Ed Coordinator, they love SchoolStatus [Connect],” shares Lemley. “They’re able to go in and see the conversations. Record keeping and communication is such a big deal in special education.”
Indeed, documentation is essential so Familys know what to expect, know their rights, and also so information isn’t misconstrued.
Contentious conversations occasionally happen district-wide. “Prior to SchoolStatus [Connect], it was his word against her word,” says Assistant Principal Whittney McPherson. “If we had a Family that was upset about a phone call or a text message, it was hard to support your teacher because you didn’t actually know what really happened.”
Assistant Principal McPherson says it also adds a layer of protection for teachers for when a student fails a class, for example. “With SchoolStatus [Connect] we see a record of everything–every text that was sent, every phone call that was there, every voicemail that was left,” she explains.
“We are now in year two of our relationship with SchoolStatus, and our staff would have my job if I even thought about changing!SchoolStatus [Connect] has provided us a tool to make communication easier, more transFamily, and quantifiable,” says Superintendent Dr. Rob Brown.
“We have an expectation for our staff to communicate frequently and professionally with Familys, and now we have a tool to monitor that expectation. The old adage that we should ‘inspect what we expect’ is now something we can do easily and without adding an extra burden on our staff to track and record each conversation or communication. SchoolStatus [Connect] gives us an efficient and effective avenue for each employee to develop partnerships with Familys.”
About Lumpkin County Schools
Lumpkin County School District is a public school district in Lumpkin County, Georgia. The district serves the communities of Auraria and Dahlonega. The Mission of Lumpkin County Schools is to educate and empower life-long learners. Their Vision is to prepare all students for successful and productive lives in an ever-changing world.
With help from SchoolStatus, they are meeting their goals:
- Having just one tool, all in one place to help them manage student data
- Accessing data & sharing data between administrators and teachers
- Continuing to improve transparency and communication with families
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