NHPS Announces Smartphone App for Parents

March 21, 2014
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Mayor Toni N. Harp and Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries joined parents Friday at East Rock Community Magnet School to announce new efforts to strengthen communication and improve “customer service” to parents, including a new smartphone app, expanded Welcome Team and improvements to the website for parents.
Strong communication with parents is a top priority for the district and the new tools announced Friday give parents more ways to engage with the district and their school. It is all part of the district’s broader strategy to foster deeper parent engagement through improved communications and more welcoming atmospheres at Central Office and schools throughout the district.
The following new communications and engagement tools were announced Friday:
-          The New Haven Public Schools smartphone app will allow parents to receive district notifications about snow days, upcoming events and important parent information. Parents can download events from the district calendar directly to their phone calendar. There is also a feature called Idea Box that allows parents to submit ideas for improvement and suggestions for celebrating students, teachers, parents or staff who make a difference in their school. “Celebrations” may be posted on the website or Facebook, or pitched to the media for coverage. “Suggestions for Improvement” will be compiled by the district, distributed to schools, and reported on periodically at Board of Education meetings. The app also features links to the Power School parent portal, New Haven Promise, Parent University, school lunch menus, district news and the NHPS Facebook and Twitter pages. Parents can easily switch the language of the app in the settings mode. Eventually, parents will be able to follow their own school on the app and receive notifications directly from their child’s school.
-          Back by popular demand, the Welcome Team will return this year in an expanded role and can be dispatched as needed to help parents navigate Central Office during busy times like registration, the School Choice lottery and Back to School week. The Welcome Team is a collaboration among departments to help answer parent questions about school enrollment, early childhood, bilingual education, special education services, transportation, wraparound services and more. The Welcome Team will be activated for the School Choice lottery on April 9 until April 24 in Central Office at 54 Meadow St.
-          The Citywide Parent Leadership Team launched a parent website at www.nhpsparents.net. The website offers important information for parents including upcoming events and workshops, parent resources, and materials from CPLT meetings. The CPLT is collaborating with Title I and the Grandparents on the Move to offer a wide array of resources. Also, the district website, www.nhps.net, has a new Parent Resource Corner that offers upcoming events, information and resources, and ways for parents to get more involved.
-          The district is announcing a shortened email address for all district staff. All staff can now be reached @nhboe.net in addition to @new-haven.k12.ct.us. So Abbe Smith is now at abbe.smith@nhboe.net. The change is meant to give parents, staff and partners an easier way to reach district staff.
“It is my sense that students respond favorably when loved ones keep current with activities and events at school – it increases participation in those activities and provides concrete evidence that the whole family is engaged in the student’s education,” Mayor Harp said. “I embrace this application of new technology to that end and encourage family members to help students by making use of these new communications tools.”
“Throughout my Listening Tour, I heard parents ask for more ways to get information and better support when navigating the complexities of school enrollment and other district processes. Most of our parents have smartphones, so the new app provides a unique and innovative way for parents to get useful information. And the Citywide Parent Leadership Team website offers more ways for parents to get involved,” said Superintendent Harries.
Superintendent Harries also highlighted the Welcome Team as an ongoing strategy to help make Central Office a more welcoming place and processes here easier to navigate.
“Our Welcome Team helped more than 100 students a day for 10 days during the start of school last year. Sometimes a helping hand and a person who listens can make a world of difference for a parent experience. We are bringing that philosophy and that support to our next busy parent time – the School Choice lottery and registration period.”