Featured School - St. Paul's Lutheran School in Glen Burnie, MD

Our entire school community relies on FastDirect for communication. It is our standby for in-house communication and for keeping in touch with parents. Whether computer savvy or deathly afraid of computers, all teachers are not only using it, but rely on it. One frequently hears, 'Just FastDirect me,'

That is how principal and leader Mrs. Ruth C. responded when asked to summarize how her staff incorporates best practices. St. Paul's Lutheran School shines as an exemplary school that utilizes FastDirect to incorporate Best Practices into their everyday life and to strengthen their school community. We spoke with St. Paul's dedicated leader and staff and we're excited to be able to share their wisdom with you.

St. Paul's Shares Best Practices

Meet Cheryl, Office Manager

On Distribution of Forms: A Time and Paper Saver:

"What if FastDirect went away? What would you miss most?" we asked. Cheryl replied, "The ability to download forms and links for the parents. Forms have a tendency to be misplaced and then new copies need to be sent home. With FastDirect the parents simply check under Links and print themselves a new form. We are also thinking of using Links to publish our Parent Newsletter. It will not only save paper, but our hope is that since more and more parents spend a great deal of time at their computer the newsletter will actually be read!"

On Effective Communication

"I use FastDirect almost exclusively to communicate with staff and parents on a daily basis. I am also responsible for posting information on the login page of FastDirect, however this is not necessarily a daily process. By using the Login page to post important information we are able to communicate to parents when school, after school care, events or after school sports are cancelled or postponed. This greatly cuts down on the phone calls to the office to ask whether or not an activity is cancelled."

On Essential Record-keeping

"I also use the Nurse's Log on a daily basis logging in the students' health issues."

Meet Donna, School Finance:

On Using One System:

"If FastDirect went away I would panic! I like the ease of all student data being available in one place, rather than having to search in multiple files or paper files."

On Accurate and Timely Record-keeping

"my main responsibility is school finances. Over the last several years the upgrades to FastDirect have made my daily processing of billing and payments so much easier. Additionally, adding new applicants is a simple process. Other processes I use daily are the nurse's log and grade book."

On Effective Communication:

"Communication between colleagues and parents is greatly improved with FastDirect's messaging. Again, having everything there in one place saves us time from looking up an email address to send a message — one click on compose message and it is done. Phone numbers and addresses are also just a click away. Use of bulletin boards is also a great way for teachers to communicate with parents. (Just think of all the paper we save by not having to print weekly classroom newsletters.)"

On Utilizing FastDirect Support:

"While I am working my way through the processes of FastDirect it is nice to know that help is just a phone call away."

On the Parent/Teacher/School:

"On a personal note..., I also use FastDirect as a Parent of St. Paul's. Can I just say it makes being a parent a bit less stressful. The teachers are also able to post work, so when my child forgets his spelling list at school, FastDirect saves the day. We forget what the Hot Lunch item of the day is, we just go to FastDirect. We need a friend's phone number, we can check the buzzbook. And most of all — Mom & Dad can keep a close watch on those grades!"

Meet Katie, 3rd Grade Teacher

On Effective Communication with Parents:

"I write parents updates once per week and send the letter through FastDirect messaging. I also use the Bulletin Board to post memory verses, schedules, and assignments. I post all assignments by Sunday so my parents know what will be due in the coming week. Parents love it and check FastDirect every day for messages and updates... they also love to check grades online. They can easily send me a message through FastDirect if they have a question."

On Convenience and Organization:

"I love that I can access FastDirect from home and that I can communicate with parents so easily. I also love that it's paperless and that the system works smoothly."

Meet Margo, 4th Grade Teacher

On Professional Development and Tackling a New System:

"I started using FastDirect with feelings of intimidation and panic! I was afraid that I would break it! But, I love it! If FastDirect went away I would miss... Everything! It's a part of our life and culture here."

On Starting the Day Off Right:

"Teachers take attendance and check lunch orders. If a student isn't sure if they ordered or what they ordered then I can see it."

On Communication with the Whole Community

"I can easily communicate with colleagues, administrators, and parents alike. We love the fact that it's web-based! We can access it from home or anywhere and parents can message from anywhere. They'll even send a message if their child is out sick."

Tracking Academic Success:

"I post homework assignments on my Bulletin Board and on the Assignments Calendar in the grade section. The public and private view on Bulletin Board is helpful and a good benefit.

"I also post all grades for parents to view online. When parents see the scores, there are no surprises. It helps with an intervention if a student needs help and report card conferences are easy. I always ask my parents to let me know if a score looks out of line and they can easily do so with messaging.

"I also use the GradeBook to track improvement. I'll start the quarter with a pop quiz and record the grade as deletable so I can remind myself what the baseline is."

On Student Involvement:

"Students also like seeing their grades online when their parents show them. They like that their parents can remind them if an assignment is missing and they'll even ask their parents to check FastDirect for new messages."

Meet Michelle, 1st Grade Teacher

On Communication with Parents:

"I love GradeBook and keep it updated for parents to view online. Parents actually print the GradeBook Report and bring it to conferences. I also love the bulletin board! I post important dates, reminders, assignments, and my memory verses on it. Also, parents check FastDirect daily, so sending a message ("FastDirect" a parent) is easy and effective.

"We print 1st and 4th quarter report cards for parents, but 2nd and 3rd quarter report cards are only posted on FastDirect. This way parents can view them online and print them at home if needed."

On the Convenience of One System:

"Everything is in one place: I can update Bulletin Board, "FastDirect" a parent (send a message), and update Gradebook. It's so convenient!"

We thank St. Paul's for sharing their Best Practices with us and other school communities. FastDirect believes that an important part of supporting schools is by helping them share knowledge.