This is the first from what will be a series of blogs from a new user of REACH who has offered to write about his experience with implementing and using REACH.
Chris Spann is the Head of Boarding at Peace Lutheran College, a mid-sized boarding school in the northern suburbs of Cairns catering up to 110 students across Australia and PNG. This is Chris’ description of his experience with REACH.
For a number of years I’ve heard about the need to go electronic, to get with the times and how once set up it would change the way in which we do business, as well as saving us time (Every House Parents dream).
After the 2014 Boarding conference, I made the decision that it was well and truly time for boarding to move forward. I decided on REACH due to the fact it was the system that was being talked about with the most vigor and how it gave staff more time to spend with their students and not doing the endless paperwork.
A couple of short emails and phone calls to Steven Montgomery from Touchline and I was all set to go on a Terms Trial. I thought initially that electronic roll marking would be all that I would be doing for the first year and that it take that long to train my staff in the system.
I had decided to trial REACH on only one of our Boarding Houses to see how the system would work “in the real world”. Along with running the REACH software, we also intended to continue our old paper trail processes “just to be sure”.
I spent the first two days playing with the system, looking at how it all connected together and adding some dummy data into a test student to see how it all played out.
REACH is an extremely configurable system. With a few mouse clicks, I could add custom locations (say a classroom for homework), add students to the group and mark the roll with any electronic device.
After the first week I decided that using the software just to mark the roll, was going to be a waste of an extremely powerful tool to our boarding community. Having the ability for any of my boarding staff to have instantaneous and up-to-date access to a student’s location was an essential ability to have.
The amount of positive interest that I received from staff has been an outstanding surprise to me. Showing the system working on an iPad Mini in Kiosk View, being able to show them exactly where each of my boarders are currently located, just by the colour around their picture brought more than one “well isn’t that clever” comment.
My boarders have also shown a surprising amount of interest. I have had a couple of students apply for leave online. When talking to them about the process they thought it was easier for them, partially because they could do it whenever they wanted, and that they didn’t always have to find they hosts details.