The Kenston School District is in Geauga County, Ohio and it is a diverse, educational community. As Superintendent Nancy Santilli states, the Kenston staff is dedicated to the “whole” child, meaning that no matter the student’s learning style, interest, or passion, they will find fulfillment at Kenston. The website that our Company 119 team would create for Kenston had to be able to accommodate those diverse interest and needs, not just for the 2,600 students enrolled in the district, but also their parents as well as over 250 staff members. Today’s school district website needs to be a conduit that ignites participation through technology. It needs to make information accessible and be a real-time source for updates and news. Most of all, it needs to capture the culture, because for many visitors this will be the introductory touchpoint that they have with a district. Keeping that in mind, we set out to make a “bomb” website for the Kenston School District Bombers!
The site that we created was custom built from the ground up. We started with a very simple content management system that would provide a powerful framework that could be updated easily, while still handling the custom development tools that we were putting in place. To make updating the site easy for faculty and staff, the traditional log-in system that we would normally use was replaced by the Google single sign-in platform, so the same log-in used for Gmail and the Google product Suite can be used to log into the site. We could all use one less log-in in our lives, anyways!
One of the biggest challenges was making content easy to find. We helped mitigate this issue by using icon buttons on a “speed dial” menu on the page. This put the most important content pages, like Staff Directory, Lunch Menu, Athletics Calendars, and more, easy to find without going into submenus. These icons and options can be changed at any time if there are new pages or seasonal pages that become a higher priority at some point.
The site was full of custom features that made information easy to find. One of the most innovative features was an Alert Bar that was integrated with Twitter. The school is very active on their social media accounts, and now with a simple hashtag, their Twitter alerts can be updated to the Alert Bar in real-time. This saves steps and simplifies the process in cases of emergencies or school closings.
The content on the site was able to be filtered so that it was distributed to the correct schools without having to rewrite or repost the content multiple times. This applied to the teacher microsites as well. With that one Google login, each teacher could access their respective school’s updates, but they could also add their own videos, pictures, and lessons whenever they wanted to. Custom calendars were built into the main platform as well, so one person could update a master Google calendar and it would update the site automatically.
We succeeded in creating a site that is fast when uploading on mobile devices, offers real-time update capabilities, and is easy to use for teachers, students, and staff. It matches the branding that the Bombers hold near and dear to their hearts, and uses technology to turn this school district’s website into an information platform that everyone associated with the schools can use!