June 29, 2021 | News
As schools plan a return to in-person learning, a new software is helping them rebuild connections to their community
For more than a year, schooling in America has occurred in a vacuum. With remote learning, teachers and students were often separated and isolated from each other. Even when there was in-person learning, class sizes were reduced and contact limited. That also included contact with the community beyond the school walls. Volunteers, mentors, classroom helpers, guest speakers — groups and individuals vital to community-based education — were on the sideline during the pandemic.
But with teachers and students returning to the classroom this coming fall, schools will also be looking to re-engage with their community partners. A new software company, SchoolSquare, is hoping to help schools do just that, while also making the process easier and more efficient.
SchoolSquare is a newly launched outreach and management software for community-based schools. Created by Simon Williams, an educator and volunteer advocate, it’s a cross between a social network and project management tool. Volunteers (from parents to community-partners to organizations) can create profiles, while teachers can post volunteer opportunities they need filled — including requests for guest speakers, mentors, tutors, internships, classroom helpers and more — for volunteers to see and sign up for.
“I’m passionate about volunteering, and I know firsthand the positive impact that community-partners can have on students and the quality of their education,” explained Williams on his motive behind creating SchoolSquare. “And as an educator, I also know how challenging the process of engaging and managing those community-partners can be.”
Williams explained how most schools manage their volunteer programs in a very analog way — often with paper forms and phone calls. Even the more digitally-advanced schools who use shared online documents and email chains find the process clunky and time-consuming, which just adds to teachers’ and school administrators’ already heavy workloads. By creating one streamlined, sustainable network, SchoolSquare supports schools, teachers, students and the community.
“Everyone benefits,” said Williams. “Teachers have less work and better lesson plans. Schools reduce their administrative burden, as SchoolSquare takes care of the paperwork and can even handle the background checks. Community partners have a simpler, more direct way to access opportunities.” Of course, for Williams and the schools he’s partnering with, the ultimate benefit is for the students. “That’s what this is all about. The students. Giving them educational opportunities, improving their outcomes and really setting them up so they can go out and improve our communities.”
SchoolSquare is school outreach and management software that helps schools easily connect with parent and community partners. SchoolSquare was created by Simon Williams, a volunteer advocate and educator in the Portland (Maine) Public Schools, and helps schools focus on developing relationships with the community and developing programs that support their students’ success.
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