Charter School Soars to Success by Tracking Parent Service Hours | Track It Forward

Charter School Soars to Success by Tracking Parent Service Hours

Check-In Kiosk

Parent volunteers can check in and out for shifts onsite

Milestones Tracking

Track progress toward annual service requirements

Mobile App

Easy-to-use app for entering hours anytime, anyplace

Charter School Soars to Success by Tracking Parent Service Hours

North Star Academy is a public school of choice located in Parker, Colorado. It opened its doors in 2006 and has been providing quality education within a culture of excellence ever since. One of the key components of North Star Academy’s success is the parent volunteering program. “Volunteering is a part of our culture at this school,” says volunteer coordinator Dawn D'Amato. “It’s who we are and we take it pretty seriously.”

Dawn’s project management expertise lent itself well to the role of volunteer coordinator at North Star Academy, a role she’s held almost since the school’s opening. Her past experience came from corporate America, where she worked for industry giants such as Equifax and Siemens. After moving to Colorado in 2005 she became a stay-at-home mother but soon found herself looking for more. “I was in and out of the school, suggesting things to the principal since my strong suit is organizing people and bringing them together. [The principal] just tapped me on the shoulder when the first [coordinator] left and asked me to help out.”

Finding a User-Friendly Solution

Parent holding arm of a child while volunteering for traffic duty

As soon as Dawn became the coordinator, she quickly realized that some type of software system was necessary to manage their extensive volunteer program. “It started off being a manual process; we just had a giant binder and every family had a piece of paper and hours were recorded when they came in…it was just a really cumbersome process,” Dawn explains. And so the search for a new time tracking system began. Over the years, they went through several different time tracking softwares that could not keep up with their demand in the end.

“A lot of other schools just do a small number of [volunteer] events per year…We have volunteers that come in every single day. I needed something that could accommodate that front end piece for the volunteer and the reporting piece that we needed to do on the back end to be able to track progress and relate that information back to the district and our board of directors,” she says. Eventually, she found Track it Forward. One of the biggest appeals for Dawn is how easy it is for parent volunteers to use. “They can sit in the car and [log hours] on their phone while waiting in the carpool, and can use the check-in kiosk [onsite],” Dawn explains. “The most important piece for me was making it easy as possible…for volunteers to use so they would be encouraged, not discouraged, from coming in and logging their hours.”

The Importance of Tracking Parent Service Hours

It’s important for North Star Academy to track volunteer hours for several reasons. First and foremost, all families whose children attend the charter school are required to complete a minimum number of volunteer hours. “We have a 40 hour per family, per school year volunteer requirement…but for single parents we do allow for a 20 hour requirement,” Dawn explains. These hours are recorded in order to show which families have met the requirement.

They can track hourly progress using the Milestones feature in Track it Forward. At North Star Academy, they call this their Volunteer Rewards. They run a regular report in Track it Forward to see who has hit their requirement and become part of the ‘40 Hour Club’. 40 Hour Club Members are also listed on the North Star Academy website for recognition. In addition, the school also reports volunteer hours to the district and their board of directors.

Example of Check In Kiosk on Mobile Device

In addition to milestones, North Star Academy makes extensive use of the Check-In Kiosk feature. They have two kiosks set up within the school where parents can just walk in and check-in for their volunteer shift, and check-out when they are finished. The hours are logged and automatically sent for supervisor approval within the Track it Forward system. “As a charter school, we don’t have bussing…so traffic duty for families is a requirement,” Dawn says. “In years past we had a folder that we called our Traffic Log, and [our traffic aide] would take that sheet at the end of the week and manually log hours, so I know for her [Track it Forward] is a dream!”

"Every day without fail, someone is doing something with Track it Forward."

Another important aspect for Dawn’s work is customer service. If there are any issues or if she has feature requests, the Track it Forward support team is available. “For the little things, you all have been awesome to me…you really have,” Dawn shares. “Things that I have seen as a potential issue, [customer service] has been able to come up with quick fixes for me. We are in [the system] every single day. Every day without fail, someone is doing something with Track it Forward.”

North Star Academy has an extensive and involved parent volunteer program, for which they needed a time tracking software with reporting capabilities that was also easy for volunteers to use. “We have to have the systems behind us to make not only our jobs easier…but easier for the volunteers, so [we] do anything we can to make that happen,” Dawn says. With the help of  software like Track it Forward, North Star Academy’s strong culture of volunteerism can continue to thrive.

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