Strengthening the home-school connection in St. Louis

Saint Louis Public Schools Executive Director of Communications Patrick Wallace believes it's essential to the home-school connection for teachers to be able to create and maintain interactive, up- to-date websites. Additionally, tools for creating websites should be easy for teachers with any level of computer sophistication to master. For these reasons, the St Louis school district has implemented the Schoolwires Centricity strategic website and community management platform.

"The teacher web pages will be a great tool for parents to stay informed about what is taking place in their child's classroom," explained Wallace. "We expect that these web pages will create a stronger connection between parents and the school, and result in added involvement from parents. We are very excited about the application."

Tools offered by Schoolwires Centricity are similar to those found in Microsoft Word and email so that computer novices are able to adopt the application with very little training. At the same time, the software also provides more sophisticated tools like 'round-trip' editing to satisfy power users. In addition to providing static information about homework assignments and contact information, teachers can also make use of interactive tools like RSS feeds and blogs to engage with students and their parents further.

The ability for any authorized staff member to populate the district website with information, resources and interactive tools will also help the district better communicate its strengths in student achievement and teacher quality, said Wallace. "We are facing increased competition from charter, private and parochial schools so it is very important that our website reflects the positive strengths of the district to potential parents, students and staff, as well as our existing community members."

The district will also implement Synergy, a digital file-sharing solution from Schoolwires that provides administrators, staff and educators a web-based, centralized and secure solution for creating, editing, and sharing content such as documents, files and presentations. The Synergy application is accessible to users from within the Centricity platform without an additional login.