Reserve Academy

Using Technology to Keep a Boarding School Community Connected
Western Reserve Academy logo
While it can not take the place of being there physically, we can create areas of community, where people can interact and engage together.

Matthew Gerber

Chief Innovation Officer, Western Reserve Academy
Western Reserve Academy is a coed boarding and day school for grades 9-12 located in Hudson, Ohio. This top-ranked college preparatory school immerses students in a supportive community.
But, while that community feeling has been consistent for nearly 200 years, they are always looking for new ways to enrich and support their students and staff—and to keep everyone connected.
Using RingCentral for their communications platform, Western Reserve Academy has been able to keep faculty communicating on the same platform that they use to text updates to students.
Plus, they were even able to make the shift to online learning in a way that kept every one of their students connected when schools closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Flexible communications with an all-in-one tool

Western Reserve Academy found RingCentral when they were looking for a new communications solution, and went with the platform because of the flexibility and different communication options available, from excellent call quality to SMS messaging.
Knowing their student body, they liked the idea of communicating with them where they’re already comfortable, on their phones. Chief Innovation Officer Matt Gerber said, “When we look at how our students communicate, it’s through text. We liked the ability to communicate with them using SMS.”
Another draw was the flexibility available within one platform. Instead of using one software for calling, another for web conferencing, and so on, they are able to keep everything in one place, making it user-friendly for teachers and students alike.
Plus, they’re able to automatically keep a record of communications through RingCentral, an important consideration in a school setting. “That protection for our students and for our faculty was important,” Matt said.
Hudson, Ohio
65 faculty, 500+ community

Using RingCentral for distance learning during COVID-19

Western Reserve Academy’s usage of RingCentral ramped up in March of 2020, when, like schools around the world, they were required to transition to distance learning in response to COVID-19. The decision to send students home came quickly and could have fostered a time of tension and confusion, but the leaders at the school stayed focused on their students.
“We did practice meetings in classrooms with students where we showed them how it was going to appear and what to do, and the students very quickly adapted to that and so did their teachers,” Matt said.
Teachers are able to utilize one platform for all kinds of communication—from one-to-one meetings to remote classes, and integrate RingCentral with Canvas to provide all of the resources students need in one place.
Teachers even hosted meetings solo as a way to record video lessons for students. That same recording functionality came in handy for students around the world, so they could attend classes in their own time zone.
Most of all, having the right communication platform kept the Western Reserve Academy community connected during an overwhelming time.
As Matt said, “While it can not take the place of being there physically, we can create areas of community, where people can interact and engage together.”
When we look at how our students communicate, it’s through text. We liked the ability to communicate with them using SMS.

Matthew Gerber

Chief Innovation Officer, Western Reserve Academy

A platform that works where others cannot

Just as the COVID-19 situation was unexpected, so were some of the benefits of their choice to use RingCentral for school communications. As it turned out, RingCentral was the perfect choice for a school looking to stay connected to their global student base.
For instance, the platform allowed Western Reserve Academy to keep all of their students engaged—including the 10-15% of students who returned home to China and wouldn’t be able to utilize some commonly used platforms that are restricted there.
Furthermore, the school psychiatrists were also able to communicate with students over RingCentral, thanks to HIPAA compliance. During a stressful time, students were still able to get the support they needed, digitally, using RingCentral Meetings.
While the leadership of Western Reserve Academy couldn’t have predicted these needs, the right software allowed them to keep moving forward seamlessly and be sure all of their students could stay connected to their school community.
As Matt said, “it was a huge help for us. In just one day, we had our plan to move forward. The amount of stress that it took off was quite a bit.”

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