App aids parent, teacher communication

Sioux Center Christian School launched the use of the Bloomz app as a way to enhance communication between teachers and parents this school year.

SIOUX CENTER—Sioux Center Christian School has implemented a new way to connect teachers and parents.

The school launched the use of the Bloomz app at the beginning of the school year in August.

Through the app, parents can find class updates, school calendar reminders, check out photos and videos of a child’s classroom, view some of their child’s school work and message their child’s teacher directly if they have questions.

“In any organization and any relationship, communication is really important,” said head of school Josh Bowar. “We really value and take seriously our partnership with parents. We believe parents are the child’s first teacher, they are the main educator and so we want to have a strong partnership between the home and the school. Good communication is a big part of that.”

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First-grade teacher Emily Penner works on scheduling a post for first-grade parents to see through the Bloomz app.

Before using the app, various departments would send out e-mails to parents.

“We were hearing from parents that some were getting five to six e-mails in a day be it from a classroom teacher, the office, a music teacher, the athletic director,” Bowar said. “It was becoming a bit of an overload. Parents asked us for a way of streamlining that communication. Bloomz helps us do that.”

A group of office individuals and teachers researched potential communication tools out there for schools to use with parents. After sifting through about 25 options, the group settled on Bloomz.

“We wanted to make sure there was something that could work for the whole school,” Bowar said. “We liked Bloomz a lot because it’s very similar to Facebook and Instagram. Before Bloomz, each classroom had its own private Facebook page through which teachers would post pictures and videos. And some parents and teachers didn’t feel comfortable with the Facebook Messenger feature so we wanted to get all the communication into one spot.”

One kindergarten and one sixth-grade class piloted the program last year. The positive student and teacher feedback received led discontinuing all the individual Facebook pages and launching the schoolwide use of the app this summer.

The transition has had some bumps, including getting parents connected with the app.

“Technology always gives us some curve balls but I think for the most part people have been very flexible,” Bowar said. “It’s something new and going to take time to get used to.”

The school plans to offer some troubleshooting time during parent-teacher conferences this fall for those who have questions or still having some issues.

“We’re all getting used to the same thing at the same time,” Bowar said. “The company has been good to work with in answering our questions. And our teachers are awesome.”

The app hasn’t been viewed as extra work.

“Our teachers just want to do what’s best for kids,” Bowar said. “While we’ve had some bumps and there’s been some frustrations along the way, they’ve had a great attitude about it. They want parents to know what their kids are doing and how their kids are doing.

“As a school, we want to keep inviting parents to experience what’s going on in the school,” Bowar continued. “We think that partnership is important. We’re working with parents to invite kids into God’s story and want to have them to have access to do that.”