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RingCentral Helps Historic School’s Teachers and Staff Communicate More Easily and Flexibly Than Ever

Private school’s faculty and staff became frustrated with their decades-old PBX phone system.
High costs, technical challenges, and lack of reliable service led the school to RingCentral.
They’ve cut costs, improved communication, and helped teachers be more accessible to parents.
Company profile
Company profile:
For over 130 years, the Ethical Culture Fieldston School has offered a world-class progressive education that develops students’ intellectual, artistic, and moral potential. Today, the school’s 350 full-time faculty and staff serve 1,700 pre-K through 12th grade students at two historic campuses in Manhattan and the Bronx.
Year founded:
350 employees
Bronx, NY

For decades, the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City has been one of the most sought-after institutions of progressive education for students from pre-K through high school. But as its staff grew in recent years to meet the needs of an expanding student population—and the need for teachers and administrators to travel between the school’s two historic campuses—ECFS faced a growing technology challenge.

The school’s on-premises PBX phone systems were beyond their capacity: The staff found it difficult to stay connected as they moved from campus to campus; teachers weren’t able to be as responsive to parents as they wanted; and adding or switching phone lines was extremely costly and disruptive. After a thorough search for a new solution, ECFS chose RingCentral Office®.

Finally retiring a phone system that had become “a nightmare”

“I’m still stinging from our pre-RingCentral phone system,” says Jeannie Crowley, Director of Technology for ECFS. “A lot of the faculty and staff feel the same way. It was that bad.”

“There were so many problems. It’s hard to know where to start,” Crowley continues. “For our school to run effectively, our teachers and staff often need to move between our Manhattan and Bronx campuses and sometimes relocate permanently from one campus to the other. Because we were tied to landline phones, our staff had difficulty staying connected to each other and to students’ parents during the day unless they were at their desks.”

“As for moving someone’s phone to a new location permanently, that 

was a huge undertaking. We’d need to run copper wire, which meant someone had to go into the tunnels of our century-old building to deal with these huge bundles of phone cables.”

“And at some point, it was no longer just difficult to add a new phone—it was impossible. Our building didn’t have enough wire to support more lines, which stopped us from growing as quickly as we wanted because we couldn’t give new people phones.”

“Essentially, we were constantly trying to retrofit the school from a telecommunications standpoint. When we decided we’d had enough, I started an intensive research project to find a new solution. RingCentral won that contest for several reasons.”

RingCentral Office offers the best solution for the school’s specific needs

“One great thing I saw in RingCentral from my very first demo was how easy it would be to manage using the web interface,” Crowley explains. “When someone switched offices, I could just say, ‘Pick up your phone and move it.’ That was it. No one had to crawl through a tunnel.”

“Also, RingCentral had all of the features we needed, like softphone capability and voicemail by email.  A lot of the solutions I investigated seemed geared toward businesses and sales organizations, but

RingCentral was clearly customizable to work for an educational institution like ours.”

“And finally, I took a lot of comfort knowing the team at RingCentral would handle all of the heavy lifting in getting us set up. Some other solutions I researched expected me to drive the process. We don’t have much phone system expertise in house, so I really appreciated RingCentral managing the migration for us.” 

ECFS’s entire faculty and staff now enjoy a “frictionless” phone solution

Since rolling the solution out schoolwide, Crowley says the teachers and administrative staff at Ethical Culture Fieldston School are finding many benefits to using RingCentral Office.

"One of the biggest benefits of deploying RingCentral is that it's helped us remain accessible and responsive to students, parents, and the ECFS community. It's added new ways for us to connect with families (such as texting) that are preferred by a lot of students and families," says Crowley.

“During our legacy phone days, we primarily communicated with parents by email, but those parents clearly wanted other ways of contacting us. Thanks to the RingCentral app, our teachers can now communicate with parents from their own mobile phones, whether by phone call or even text message, using their school phone numbers. Giving our staff the RingCentral app has been a great way to open up communication with

our school’s community without forcing teachers to give out their personal mobile numbers.”

“Also, a lot of our staff travel between the two campuses a lot, and the RingCentral app and softphone capability make it much easier to stay connected during those visits.”

“Plus, we’re now seeing a massive amount of savings in time and labor because we’re no longer dealing with copper wires and the whole telecom process to move or add phone lines. For example, we just had a bunch of moves recently, and from a phone standpoint it took no time at all. Literally—no time. For us, RingCentral has been completely frictionless. I cannot overstate how little effort it takes to maintain the RingCentral solution—and how different that is from our pre-RingCentral phone days.”

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