January 21, 2014 at 2:28 PM
SUMMIT, NJ - Parents at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS) are taking advantage of a new PTO-provided web-based and mobile directory, made available to them last September. What's more, MobileArq is the brainchild of Summit resident Niru Mallavarupu, a parent at LCJSMS, and it is changing the way parents contact each other.
“MobileArq allows parents to be better organized, and helps them become more engaged in the school community,” Mallavarupu said. “The mobile and online apps allow parents to communicate more easily with each other and with the school.” Gone are the days, she said, where parents have trouble locating the elusive directory and have to purchase extra copies for the car.
In September, instead of receiving a traditional directory, parents were told to sign up for the online tool. Although 650 families have registered, some are not actively using the application. Instead, Mallavarupu said, they are carrying around an old outdated printed directory, sometimes forgetting about the new service. She would like parents to be more aware of the benefits of the web-based app.
Parents use MobileArq when they need to pick up their child at a friend’s house and don’t know the address, or need to email or call a teacher immediately when they are out on the road, accessing the data easily with their phones. Mallavarupu reports that the analytics show that parents are using the app from other states as well, with 10 users logging in from Florida during the winter break.
LCJSMS Principal Matt Block says that the on line version of the directory is very user friendly. Block says one of the best features of MobileArq is all the ways parents can search for information. For example, LCJSMS students are divided into three “teams” per grade level and, through MobileArq, all members of a team are visible, which can help parents find a “Study Buddy” for their children or locate information for whom to call for assignment questions.
With a background in web-based technology, Mallavarupu developed a secure, easy-to-use private mobile school directory that gives parents access to all the directory information on their phones, computers and mobile devices. “Phone calls, texts and emails can be sent directly through the application,” she said. “Parents can update the information when necessary, as in when new families move into the district or there is an address or email change. With the old book, you had to wait until the next September for the change to show up.”
“Keeping track of school-aged children and managing their lives is tough, especially for working parents,” Mallavarupu said. ““We spend much time dropping the kids off at school, going to work, picking them up from practices, taking them to other activities, and running errands. If you are running late and need to contact someone -- maybe another parent, or maybe a teacher -- and don’t have a school directory with you, you can be stuck. MobileArq, she says, was initially designed to “fulfill a basic and totally intuitive function: creating a permanent, easily accessible, impossible-to-lose format for school directories.”
“That was all I had in mind at first -- it was just about filling a need. But as I started developing the app, I realized how many other uses the technology had. It just makes sense on so many levels.”
LCJSMS parent Christine Cartisser says that the online SMS Directory is just like using 411.com. “I have the link as a bookmark in my browser and use it when I need to get an address or phone number. Logging on is no more difficult than logging into Power School,” she said. She adds that having the teacher’s email addresses and “team” info for the students readily accessible is an added improvement from the printed directory.
Parents at LCJSMS who have not yet signed up for the service can obtain a user name and password by registering at https://lcjsms.mobilearq.com/parent_register.html. MobileArq serves schools in New Jersey, Connecticut, and as far away as Texas, with over 20,000 registered users. It is a smart, green alternative to directory printing. For more information on getting a mobile directory in your school, contact MobileArq at 908 / 273-3458, or visit www.mobilearq.com/.