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How this top charter school organization used RingCentral MVP with video for remote learning and even graduation ceremonies

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3 min read

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A charter high school with a 100% college-acceptance success rate

The founders of Ascend Charter Schools started with a bold mission: to develop a scalable solution to the underachievement of economically disadvantaged children. Just a little more than a decade after its first school began teaching kindergarten through second grade, the Brooklyn-based Ascend organization—now 15 schools strong, educating K-12—has proven repeatedly that its approach works.

On virtually every key measurement, Ascend’s students outperform their public-school counterparts throughout New York City and across the state. In 2019, for example, Ascend’s students in every school, every grade, and every subject demonstrated higher proficiency rates than their district peers.

In that same academic year, Ascend’s economically disadvantaged students outperformed their non-economically disadvantaged peers statewide in math. And 100% of Ascend high school graduates were accepted to college.

The increasing demand from families across New York City for a spot in an Ascend school has led to rapid growth. Already educating 6,000 students across its 15-campus network, the organization is building new schools as quickly as it can. But with its outdated phone system, Ascend found this growth placing a strain on its staff’s ability to communicate.

From successful RingCentral test to organization-wide rollout

Emeka Ibekweh, Ascend’s Managing Director of Technology, explains that his team tried out the RingCentral cloud phone solution with the staff at two of Ascend’s newer schools. “That worked so well, and the staff who used the system liked it so much, we implemented RingCentral across all of Ascend’s schools and offices,” he says.

How this school leveraged RingCentral MVP to deliver A+ education

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Giving the staff more flexibility and mobility

As Emeka points out, employees across the Ascend organization—teachers as well as operations personnel—began finding ways to improve their workflows and productivity with the RingCentral phone system on their laptops and smartphones.

“For our teachers, we had a physical phone in their office and one in the classroom. But we were limiting their ability to be connected and accessible when they weren’t in one of those places. With RingCentral, now they had their school phone right on their laptop, so they could communicate with coworkers or parents from wherever they were.”

The anywhere, any-device mobility of RingCentral also helped Ascend’s operations department improve its workflows. “One big benefit we found with the RingCentral mobile app was that our operations teams—facilities managers, maintenance managers—were now reachable on their business number even as they moved around the school. So, we were able to get rid of their desk phones.”

Thriving through the lockdowns with RingCentral Video

But the most significant benefit Ascend found with its RingCentral unified communications platform was the built-in video conferencing solution—which, as Emeka notes, Ascend used throughout the pandemic as a virtual gathering place for key school events.

“Our teachers used RingCentral Video for remote instruction every day. We used the video platform for staff events like holiday parties. We even used RingCentral to hold virtual graduation ceremonies and science fairs.”

And when noticed that employees’ video conferencing usage was increasing exponentially—even on the weekends—Emeka discovered something interesting. “Our staff told me they were using RingCentral Video with family and friends they couldn’t see in person.”

“It was great to know we were helping our teams stay connected to people they cared about during the shutdown. And RingCentral was helping us do it—by charging us the same amount for 1 minute or 1 million minutes of video time.”

Originally published Sep 23, 2021

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