Monday, August 5, 2013
As an educator, I have had many long nights calling parents. Sometimes I call multiple times because I am left without an answer, students or siblings intercepting the call, or with the message that a parent is busy at work. Other nights I am up thinking about a call or conference that I had with a parent. I send home the letters. I make the calls. How come they were not aware that their child was struggling in school, missing class, or that field trip money was due Friday? The fact of the matter is, paper trails with students never work. Kids lose things. Honestly, I lose things. Also, we can never really be sure that the person on the other end of the phone really is the parent of our children. This got me thinking. I would say to myself, "there has to be a better way." Then the idea came to me. The 21st century has made it possible for new ways to successfully communicate. Just about everyone is connected. Parents and students all have cell phones. Do you know how many cell phones I have taken away because a student was "checking the time"? I'm not really sure, but if I had a nickel for every one, I would have a lot of nickels. At least four bucks. So there I was, with an idea. An idea for an app that will help increase parental involvement in schools.
Time went on, and I was still only stuck with an idea. I consider myself some sort of a techie, but I do not know how to build an app. What was my next step? How could I get this app created? It led to more sleepless nights, but I knew a good idea was there, and determined it would become a reality. You never know what time will bring. One night, during a random conversation with my brother-in-law, and fellow Southern NJ resident (Brian Murphy), I spoke about the idea. He loved it! I saw that his passion was there, and I know he saw my passion in return. The following day, he was contacting app developers, making phone calls, and exploring options for financing. His hard work caught my attention. This is really happening! Over the next few days we had a proposal from an app developer. Our next speed bump was the price tag that goes along with the many features that our app required in order to be successful. We don't have that kind of money, but our determination guided us. There was no way we were stopping now. Over the next month, we scrounged together as much money as we could, and added some great investors that we will forever be indebted to. In addition to the investors, we added fellow educator and South NJ native Michael Murphy to the team. And that was that. Our app was being developed. Each step was amazing. From seeing the design, to adding new features. It all seemed unreal, but we never let that lose our focus.
Fast-forward to today, and Teacher App & Grade Book is now on the Android & Apple markets, and now in the hands of many teachers, parents, and students. The final product has many amazing features. Each user has their own interface. Teachers can quickly send individual, and/or group messages to parents and students in a matter of seconds. Teachers have the option to send pre-set custom messages, or to send personalized messages as well. Teachers can also attach files, monitor attendance, send events through the interactive calendar, and also add student grades and quickly send them all to parents. As the parents log in, they can instantly see that they have a message from a teacher. Parents and students can view their individual data, and constantly be aware of student performance, grades, and attendance. Another great feature is that parents can send official password protected absence notes straight through the app, which will hopefully decrease the number of unexcused absences that teachers face every school year.
We are confident that Teacher App & Grade Book will help keep parents informed, and allow students to take ownership of their academic performance. It may not be completely certain exactly what parental involvement is, but we feel that our app will at least give parents some additional feedback that will help them understand exactly how their children are doing in school without the possible surprises at parent teacher conferences. We hope to see Teacher App & Grade Book by Academically InformED in the hands of many school districts throughout NJ, and around the world. As a new company, it is hard to get our name out there, but we are confident that the product will speak for itself if you check it out. Visit our website at www.academicallyinformed.com for more information, or download us in your app store to give us a try.