Parent University and Community Partnerships
A Tale of Two Opportunities
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’ department of Community Partnerships and Family Engagement provides a variety of tools, resources and support to help families and schools work together for the benefit of students.
One such tool is Parent University, a program that offers classes to help parents more meaningfully participate in their children’s education. However, the program was difficult to manage and maintain because it was largely implemented through printed media.
For example, every course had to be recreated from scratch despite the fact that the same courses were offered on multiple occasions. CMS wanted a way for registration and administration of courses to be automated and digital.
At the same time, they wanted to streamline the way the department managed their relationships with CMS Partner organizations.
Coordinators needed to be able to efficiently track partner giving, better communicate with each other, and more effectively match specific school needs to partnership resources.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools hired RevenFlo to build a custom web application that would help capitalize on both of these opportunities.
System Architecture & Design
We chose to build the application in Microsoft’s ASP.NET framework with an MVC architecture. One reason for this choice was the elegant, “code-first” way that .NET handles the database side of things. This allowed us to adapt and change the database structure to meet the needs of our clients as we continued to refine their functional requirements.
We also began prototyping the look and feel, using a tool called ProtoShare. It allowed us to not only build wireframes and screen layouts, but also create functional designs which model the potential behavior of the user interface.
Because this web tool needed to be easy for users to access on their phones, we designed the mobile experience first, knowing it would be easier to adapt for larger screens later.
A Professional, Customizable Web Tool
We named the application we built EngageCMS. It has two interconnected pieces:
One side is a public-facing course-registration system for Parent University. It allows parents to register for courses online, get email reminders, and give course feedback from almost any connected device.
Principals or school liaisons can request courses and take attendance for their school. Administrators can easily add sessions of existing courses, create new ones, and track data about attendance.
The second piece allows Partnership Coordinators to manage their workflow through a virtual rolodex of contacts, a database of Partners, and customizable plans a coordinator can build around the individual needs of each school. In addition to tracking and managing these partnerships, administrators can use this data to show how (and how well) specific donations of time, talent, and money are being matched to identified needs.
The connection between the two pieces in the system is the School. Viewing a school’s page in the system shows an administrator both the Parent University activity and the Coordinator’s progress toward getting needs met through partnerships.
Success Ahead with EngageCMS
As Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools begins the 2014-15 school year, it has a new tool that will help parents, education professionals, and other community members engage more effectively with student learning and growth.
RevenFlo is pleased and honored to have helped play a role in this.