Chatting with the Executive Director of Technology, Safety & Security at Wenatchee Public Schools
by Nathan Resick, on Nov 17, 2023 12:15:16 PM
Recently, we sat down with Ron Brown, the Executive Director of Technology, Safety and Security for Wenatchee Public Schools in Wenatchee, Washington. Wenatchee Public Schools serve approximately 7,000 students with about 600 teaching staff, and their student population consists of roughly 51% Latino students, with the rest primarily Caucasian.
"Over my 30 years in education, I have witnessed the transition from the pre-Internet era to today's age of ubiquitous technology with cell phones. We have evolved from traditional means of communication, such as letters and mailings, to leveraging technology, including phone calls, robocalling, automatic messaging through the Internet, email, and text messaging. Throughout this journey, we have experienced various products, some free and some adopted over time, to provide consistency to parents, students, and staff. Last year, we adopted Bloomz as our comprehensive tool, aiming for a more encompassing and future-looking solution.
One of our main priorities was to support our multilingual learners and families, particularly our Spanish-speaking parents, who comprise about half of our parent population. Additionally, we wanted a platform that had a polished and personalized feel, similar to modern applications, rather than outdated websites or applications. We have previously utilized a web content management platform from a company called CampusSuite, as well as Remind and School Messenger. However, we encountered some challenges with our operational departments and the need for an overall messaging system that could incorporate emergency notifications and reach divisions beyond school buildings.
During our evaluation, we focused on ParentSquare, Bloomz, and Remind. We appreciated the interface of Bloomz, which felt up-to-date and intuitive, resembling the social media interfaces commonly used outside of school. We also found value in the additional features Bloomz offers, such as PBIS support and the ability to classify different types of notifications beyond just classes and schools.
We also love having the ability to classify groups as different types. One of the pain points we've had in the past was we wanted to do sports notifications, we wanted to do PTA notifications, and we wanted to do club notifications. But most other apps call everything a school, they call everything a class, etc. We appreciated the way Bloomz included more categories.
With Bloomz, I can have sports teams and coaches and players, I can have groups and members, I can have clubs and advisors - everything doesn't have to just be a "class." So just that terminology, I think, can help people appreciate user-friendliness because when a coach opens their team to communicate with the players and the parents, they do not want to be called a teacher; they do not want to be called a class because they're not. It might be semantics, but that was important to us when we were evaluating apps, and we thought it was a strength of the Bloomz platform.
After careful research, we found that Bloomz suited our needs well. It provided multilingual support, integrated PBIS tracking and reporting, and combined various communication methods into one efficient tool. By consolidating our tools and focusing on Bloomz, we have increased our staff's efficiency and proficiency in using the platform.
Overall, Bloomz is a powerful tool that can decrease the number of apps needed, improve efficiency, improve behavior, and increase academic performance."