The Police Officer Rocco Laurie Intermediate School: From stalled implementation to success story

Customer Spotlight:
Driving Operoo Adoption

Rocco Laurie Intermediate (IS 72)

Located in Heartland Village, Staten Island, The Police Officer Rocco Laurie Intermediate School 72 (IS 72) was ready for change. Its school processes and parent communications were manual, paper-based, and ripe for modernization.

IS 72 Principal, Jessica Jackson, knew there was a more efficient way to distribute and collect information, permissions and approvals throughout the school’s 231 staff and 1,326 year six, seven and eight students.

But, after deciding to digitize and automate its school workflows with Operoo, IS 72’s path to success was delayed by its own hesitation. Assistant Principal, Gregory Rocco, explains how they got things back on track.

We distributed all our critical forms and requests for information for all incoming and returning students through Operoo — parents simply had to activate their Operoo accounts in order to provide the data we needed.

Gregory Rocco, Assist. Principal
Rocco Laurie IS 72

A nervous start

“Before partnering with Operoo, we had been very ‘old school’ in how we distributed and requested information — we really relied very heavily on people and paper,” said Rocco. “We were also nervous about the rollout and adoption aspects of transitioning to digital forms, record keeping and school communications. Simply put, we were fearful of the ‘what ifs’.

“How would we ensure all of our parents registered students for the platform? Who might miss out? How would we chase-down slow adopters?”

With the onset of COVID-19, IS 72 were quickly thrown into a position where traditional paper-based methods of information distribution and collection were untenable.

“The pandemic pushed us into action,” said Rocco. “Either IS 72 directly, or the school district, provided all our students with laptops amidst a very swift move to digital operations and remote schooling. So, we went with it.

“The irony of coronavirus throwing us straight into virtual education was that it put paid to all our Operoo implementation concerns. It really showed us that with the right structure and persistence, making Operoo a success was actually much easier than we originally thought. My only regret is that we didn’t push to roll-out the platform sooner.”

Getting back on track: 5 factors for success

Whilst Operoo deployment may have originally stalled at IS 72, Jackson, Rocco and their team made enormous strides, making-up for lost time across May and June.

“Ironically, the diversion from our best intentions regarding Operoo stopped once the pandemic started,” said Rocco. “Over the past eight weeks in particular, we’ve made some fantastic progress.”

Whilst IS 72’s renewed and uncompromising focus to go digital drove its Operoo roll-out, Rocco pinpointed five key factors that underpinned the school’s ultimate success, including:

1. Assigning a specific school leader to own the Operoo rollout — from start to finish

2. Deploying a multi-channel campaign to drive Operoo registration (social media, email, letters, phone calls)

3. Utilizing Operoo implementation and support resourceshandbook and teams

4. Consulting with other Operoo schools to benefit from lessons learned

5. Using Operoo as the only means to distribute and receive important all forms — especially start-of-year forms (to drive adoption amongst the school community)

“In hindsight, I wish we’d chosen one person to lead our Operoo rollout from the beginning,” said Rocco. “Initially, we all tried to own a piece of it. While this made sense at the time, from a collaborative perspective, it ultimately made the rollout harder to manage.”

Things really started moving when Jessica Jackson, IS 72 Principal, delegated responsibility for Operoo deployment, registration and adoption to Rocco.

“Once the responsibility was placed on my shoulders, I had the mandate to really push forward, execute the Principal’s vision, and make Operoo work for our school community,” said Rocco. “Fellow Operoo schools, such as Staten Island Tech and IS 7, provided some great advice for using Operoo early-on and establishing buy-in from parents. Dina Testa, the Assistant Principal at Elias Bernstein IS 7, has been extremely supportive in particular. She’s really helped lead the Operoo charge in NYC.”

After speaking with IS 7 and others, Rocco knew that preparing his school community for the transition to Operoo would be critical when it came to ensuring early adoption and ongoing success.

“We knew that getting the word out, through multiple channels, was going to be important,” said Rocco. “We started with a social media campaign to create awareness and then push sign-up, coupled with emails to prepare and pre-warn our parents. This set the scene for successful adoption. In fact, we had parents calling the school asking when we were distributing invitations to activate their Operoo accounts.”

Rocco also used the ‘divide and conquer’ method, rolling-out separate sign-up campaigns for incoming sixth graders and returning students moving into years seven or eight.

“I was able to leverage the enthusiasm of incoming students and their families as well as the help from Operoo’s Head of Customer Success, Sam Banks,” said Rocco. “Sam helped us perform a manual upload of incoming sixth graders, we sourced their Gmail accounts and paired that with social media campaigns to increase preparedness. They were all really in-tune with the digital platforms we have and so were excited to get started with Operoo.

“Our returning seventh and eighth graders required an extra nudge, but we simply used Operoo’s auto-reminders feature to give them the push needed.”

Rocco emphasized that using Operoo as the sole method to distribute important start-of-year forms was a decision that helped the school drive registration and adoption.

“If you expect your community to embrace the platform, the school itself has to as well,” said Rocco. “So we distributed all our critical forms and requests for information for all incoming and returning students through Operoo — parents simply had to activate their Operoo accounts in order to provide the data we needed.”

To both gather information IS 72 required for the 2020 – 2021 school year, as well as commence its Operoo on-boarding process, Rocco began with three specific forms.

“We pinpointed Emergency Contact Cards, Parent Media Consent Forms and our IS 72 Clothing Store Policy as important documents that had to be signed by parents,” said Rocco. “Distributing these forms to parents through Operoo, from the outset, meant that we were able to generate strong sign-ups and set a precedent for how we expected to distribute and receive communications on an ongoing basis. We were creating a one-stop-shop for our parents and a single source of truth for the school.”

Consolidating progress over Summer Break

Buoyed by his success, Rocco has put in place plans to ensure momentum is maintained over the Summer Break.

“We need to ensure everyone’s onboard and fully committed to our Operoo-centric communications strategy for September,” said Rocco. “Nobody knows exactly what the new school year will bring, or whether we’ll even be in the classroom yet. Operoo will be a monumental way for us to effectively communicate with our parents and the whole school community.”

Rocco’s Operoo Summer Plan includes:

1. Using Operoo to build a report of all parents who are yet to activate their accounts

2. Sending bulk emails to those parents, through Operoo, to prompt them to register

3. Having school aides call-down non-respondent parents to get them on-board

4. Distributing a range of forms to parents over the Summer Break, via Operoo, to increase readiness for whatever challenges September brings

5. Rolling out Operoo to staff members for IS 72’s staff forms too (including 408 Staff Sign Off, Staff Emergency Contact Cards, Personal Time Off Requests, Teacher’s Choice, Request for Reimbursement and more)

“Over the summer, we’ll be sending a range of forms to parents we’re prepared for either face-to-face or remote learning,” said Rocco. “We’re going to use it for all our staff needs too.”

Rocco and his team are using Operoo over the summer to distribute:

  • Its Parent – Student Handbook, which includes a section on remote learning
  • An updated Teacher Handbook, which contains discipline codes and policies
  • Schedules to students regarding blended learning timetabling
  • A revised cell phone policy to continue minimizing cell phone use on campus
  • Mobile device contracts, surveys and requirements to support digital learning
  • Device Distribution Tracking
  • Lists and instructions for purchasing school supplies
  • Summer assignments
  • Chancellor’s Regulations for teachers to sign
  • Senior Dues and Activity Collections
  • Gym Uniforms

Building a Operoo community: “Other schools should reach out to me”

“Aside from the massive efficiency gains, given that our school secretaries are working remotely due to COVID-19, I’m not even sure how we would have prepared for the new year without Operoo — period,” said Rocco. “The onset of this pandemic, combined with a new school year, forced us to act and really proved just how invaluable digitizing our paper processes is for our school.”

Rocco said that taking the plunge, and learning from others, were the two pieces of advice he’d give other schools deploying Operoo.

“The bottom line is, it takes effort to get the onboarding right at the start,” said Rocco. “But, once your parents have activated their Operoo accounts, it’s an amazing platform for communication.

“If any schools — and those in NYC in particular — need some additional support to get their Operoo implementations moving, they shouldn’t hesitate to contact Sam or me directly.”

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