Irving ISD, a district serving approximately 35,000 students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, began using LivingTree in November 2014. The district has earned a number of accolades, including being named the 2015 national Advanced Placement District of the Year; an “amazing CTE program” in the U.S.; and having its high schools recognized among the top 10% of high schools nationwide by U.S. News and World Report. The district was looking for ways to share those success stories and continue its parent engagement efforts after opening Parent Centers in each of its schools. Like many school districts across the state, Irving ISD serves a diverse student population and wanted a way to reach ALL families, regardless of home language (54 languages are spoken in Irving ISD), the parent’s education level or socioeconomic status.
Irving ISD has strong belief in the benefits of parent and community engagement, and has a stated district goal of enabling and ensuring community engagement and collaboration. Based on the results of district wide surveys of teachers, parents, and students in spring 2014, Irving ISD sought to establish digital two-way dialogue accessible via mobile application. That’s when Irving ISD decided to implement LivingTree to meet their two-way dialogue, translation, mobile, and privacy needs. “In Irving ISD we started out with 13 campuses as early adopters of LivingTree. The feedback we received from parents, principals and teachers has been incredible. It’s helped solidify parents’ trust in our schools,” says Lesley Weaver, Irving ISD’s Director of Communications. In the spring of 2015, Irving ISD rolled out LivingTree for the entire district to realize their goal of an engaged and empowered community. In the 2015-16 school year alone, Irving ISD has experienced 30,689 total content shares. This includes almost 10,000 photos (virtual windows) shared with the community and a fully engaged network shown by 1,378 comments and 15,485 likes on content. Parents, students and staff have a single, private place to engage and share conversation.
“Using the LivingTree platform, our school was able to build a much tighter community and meaningful engagement with our families. It has truly changed our level of transparency with parents and how we converse, share, and coordinate in the context of educating our children. – Eden Hinds, Briargrove Elementary Principal, Houston ISD
Briargrove Elementary serves ~910 students in the Houston School District. Nearly half the school’s population is Latino and Asian-Pacific, and 23% of students are in ESL programs. Prior to LivingTree, the school relied heavily on room parents and the PTO to relay information and volunteer opportunities to parents. Despite the combined use of fliers, email blasts, and newsletters, parents felt uninformed. Results from a 2011-2012 survey showed parents felt excluded and disconnected from the school.
In the fall of 2012, Briargrove turned to LivingTree to streamline communication and create safe, two-way engagement between teachers and parents. PTO president Ellecia Knolle explained LivingTree’s two-way engagement platform enabled admin and teachers to communicate: “for the first time, parents were equally informed.” At the end of their first year with LivingTree, parents readily voiced their renewed trust in the school.
Activity in Briargrove’s network has steadily increased with each year: Between August 1st, 2015 and March 2016, nearly 1,000 calendar events and 5,000 posts of messages, photos, and files between and across classes were shared. With over 2,500 comments, and 20,000 ‘likes,’ the school knows they’re reaching parents. As of Fall 2015, 100% of classrooms were engaged on LivingTree and fully 50% of network members were contributing content, commentary, or appreciation! Briargrove has successfully resolved the disconnect parents originally felt with the school.