Friday, February 26, 2010

David and Dawn - The Ohio Tour!

Two districts were trained in the new BoardDocs in the same week! First one up...Groveport Madison School District which is just southeast of downtown Columbus.

David and I wrestled the weather the first day of training. I flew into Columbus Ohio on the tail end of yet ANOTHER winter storm. David's plane never even made it to Columbus. He landed in Detroit and that is where Delta Airlines wanted him to stay....for 2 more days!

David of course would have none of that nonsense. He and another stranded soul rented a car and drove through the storm together to Columbus. Rental car companies didn't have a wide array of choices that night, so he drove an economy car through the storm. YIKES!!!! (My jetski has more horsepower than the car he drove.)

He made it safely to Columbus ready to implement Groveport Madison School District. There was just on tiny little problem, the document publisher was snow bound at home. In fact, the only two people at the district were the superintendent and the business manager. We rolled up our sleeves, took off our boots and went to work showing them their site. Oh, did I mention that the training for the board was first evening also. All showed, All loved it!

Next up? Middletown Ohio...the same week!

We traveled for about 2 hours from Columbus. Middletown School District is located, well, midway between Dayton and Cincinnati. Guess that's how they got their name.

The mascot for Middletown is a "Middie". Cute huh?

Friday, February 5, 2010

West Mifflin Area..Yep, that's in Pittsburgh!

I'm always surprised at Pittsburgh..home of the Steelers, the's a big metropolitan city. Did you know it's a very hilly city...never knew that before visiting there.

45 minutes south of the Pittsburgh airport is West Mifflin, PA, home of West Mifflin School District. David and I traveled there on a cold February day. The district is housed in the same building as the city government, sharing resources which is a great idea. They use the same room for the Board of Directors and the City Council meetings.

The district is very excited with all the BoardDocs features, saving time and money for district staff and board members.

The first evening after training concluded David and I went to Amels for dinner. Amels Restaurant was highly recommended by Judy, the document publisher. Boy, she was right! What a great dinner that night and very reasonable too. If you love Syrian food, this is your place. Just look for the neon genie!

Then next day, after the feast at Amels, David wanted to eat a light salad for lunch....but what a salad he had. French fries on sandwiches are a trademark of Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh but french fries on a SALAD? Yep, only in Pittsburgh!

The Best Laid Plans - Fairfax Regional Training Sessions

Plan your work, work your plan. We've been planning, planning, planning for the regional training sessions to convert everyone to the new BoardDocs. We held the first regional training session at the Fairfax County Public Schools Plum Center for Lifelong Learning in Fairfax, Virginia this week. Apparently, though, I forgot to ask for NO SNOW!

First, so many thanks to Fairfax County Public Schools for allowing us to use their wonderful facility for our training sessions. Pam Goddard worked with me over a few months to get dates scheduled and confirmed. Clif Wade helped make sure that technically everything was good to go.

I am so grateful for all of their patience and assistance, I certainly couldn't have done this on my own.

The first Document Publisher session had 14 attendees from surrounding school districts; Fairfax County Schools, Loudoun County Schools, Howard County Schools, ERFC, and Fall Church City Schools. After some initial discussion, we dove into training.

I'd say everyone was most excited about dragging and dropping agenda items and categories within a meeting and having them automatically renumber. You might even say they were giddy.

A snowstorm loomed on the horizon for Wednesday, and the cancellations started rolling in by email and phone. But you know, better safe than sorry, and we want everyone safe. I ended up with one lucky document publisher from Charles County Government in Maryland. Born in Ohio, Denise Ferguson scoffs at the snow. She drove up to my hotel where we proceeded to a restaurant with wi-fi and ate lunch and had document publisher training. Training went well, and we both had fabulous salads - in spite of the snow.

Two board training sessions later, I was ready to get the heck out of Dodge (well, Virginia actually) because the storm of the century was headed to that very area. The airport was crazy busy, full of people who wanted one thing: TO GET HOME.

So I'm home safe and sound today. Armed with the experience of the first round of regional trainings, we are tweaking our process to provide the best possible experience for everyone. Have I mentioned how awesome the new BoardDocs is? The new BoardDocs is AWESOME!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Washington State School Directors' Association Begins Going Paperless with BoardDocs

If you've read my earlier post in this blog, I love to travel to Washington State. So I was excited to return to Washington and train WSSDA, the Washington State School Directors' Association. WSSDA serves 1,477 locally elected school board members.

The board members live all over the state of Washington which presents its own set of challenges. Getting board packets distributed to all board members wasn't an easy or pleasant task. Now, with BoardDocs board members simply login to their secure website giving them instant access to their board meeting, board policies and a host of new library items. Think of it as an eGovernance headquarters for all the Washington State School Director's Association Board.

Terri is the document publisher at WSSDA. She is absolutely thrilled with her new found tool to help her prepare board meeting agendas, weekly updates, polices and much more!

They are well on their way to go paperless. It was my pleasure to help.

Next up for me??? West Mifflin PA - just outside of Pittsburg.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chandler AZ - Storm of the Century

Is it mere coincidence that the storm of the century in Phoenix, Arizona took place during Chandler Unified School District's conversion to the all new BoardDocs? I think not. Mother nature was aligned with us as we swept in and changed the face of agenda creation once again. Ok, flew in, which rhymes with blew in, which is exactly what the wind did.

Ari, Dawn, David and I went to Arizona to work with our Friend Donna Nigh - Document Publisher. Wait, David? Who is this David you ask? David Adkins is our newest BoardDocs Implementation Specialist. David joined the team officially on January 18th. He has hit the ground running, as they say, and is picking up the BoardDocs universe at a blazingly fast pace. David has a great background and brings so much to our team. Hopefully you will all get to meet him at the workshop in Atlanta this September (please note, make plans to attend workshop in September in Atlanta).

So, Chandler is a large district with plenty of agenda item submitters and approvers. The new system was well received by all, especially the board members. They really like the all new interface and ease of navigation the new BoardDocs offers.

Dawn did an awesome job of presenting the information to Donna and Mary Lou. Ari was there to make sure any technical issues or questions were quickly addressed and put to rest. He's the best.

Most notable during our visit to Phoenix was the wind - incredible wind, the likes of which I've only seen during tornadoes and hurricanes. It was scary. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people in the Phoenix area that were impacted by the horrible weather.

The food note for this trip was grapefruit from Donna's house!

They were fabulous, juicy, sweet, tart, perfect! That's David Adkins in the photo, our newest Implementation Specialist!

On to the next destinations. For me that means Fairfax, Virginia for the first regional conversion training session!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Roanoke City School District Loves BoardDocs!

Roanoke City Schools had their first meeting in BoardDocs. I received a wonderful note from Cindy the document publisher. She had a change to an agenda item 1 hour prior to the board meeting and was able to make the change very quickly and easily. She just loves it!

Such wonderful people at their district. Everyone was so concerned since I was driving for a few hours at night after training. Just the "hint" of snow shuts down the town. It's so cute.


It's pretty cold in January. People in the southern U.S. don't exactly handle the cold very well. No fault of theirs, they are just warm weather people.

I found out that airlines don't handle the cold weather all that well either.

Today's pop quiz: How many boarding passes does it take to fly from Greensboro N.C. to St. Louis on a frigid January day? Evidently 8! It took 9 hours to fly home. I had canceled flights, delayed flights, and an "almost didn't make it" flight.

I can't wait until the spring; maybe I'll only need 2 boarding passes to get home :-)

Next up: Chandler Arizona's conversion!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meet me in St. Louis, Louie

... meet me at the fair. Ah, Judy Garland sang about the St. Louis World Fair in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis. Dawn and I were in St. Louis this week, but sadly, Ms. Garland was not. Actually, Dawn is there all the time, because SHE lives there. But I digress... Ritenour School District in metropolitan St. Louis became the first school district to convert to the all new BoardDocs.

Michelle Clover is the document publisher at Ritenour; she's been using BoardDocs for about 2 1/2 years now. Dr. Cheryl Compton, the Superintendent at Ritenour, was willing to let Ritenour go ahead and move to the new system, and for that, we are very thankful.

You see, we needed a district that fit a certain profile to be the first convertee (is that a word?). We needed the district to be using most of the features of BoardDocs including online submission of agenda items. It was also important that there not be too many years of data in their database for ease of converting their information to the new format.

They fit all of the criteria. Imagine that!

Training went well, and Michelle was very excited about all of the new functionality. Heck, with the easy new features like drag and drop and auto-renumbering, what's not to like?

Now, when you travel a lot, it really is all about the food. I am happy to report that I expanded my culinary horizons this trip by having world famous St. Louis toasted Ravioli, meaning: fried ravioli. It was delish, but really, you could fry cardboard and serve it with some sauce and it would taste pretty good.

Their data has been converted now, and they are on their way. 1 down!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Arctic Blast

On Tuesday I was speaking with the folks at Mason County Public Schools, WV checking on final details for their BoardDocs training scheduled to start Wednesday. Their schools were closed Tuesday, due to snow, but as usual, administrators will come in anyway. As I wrapped up the conversation, I thought to myself, you know, I better just give them my cell number in case some weird weather thing is really going to happen tomorrow; so I did just that.

I woke up bright and early to get ready to go on Wednesday. I will not say I was bright eyed and bushy tailed as that would be a lie; I am not a morning person. At all. I came downstairs to get my coffee and noticed the message light blinking on my cell phone.

Sure enough, I had two messages from the folks at Mason County Public Schools that schools were closed Wednesday and would probably be closed Thursday. After looking at Friday's weather for that part of the country, it is a pretty good bet they'll be continuing their January vacation on Friday as well.

I was disappointed not to be going to West Virginia to do the implementation. The newest things that have been released during the beta testing process are so great! I was looking forward to wowing them with the all new BoardDocs.

Then I looked at the weather forecast for Atlanta (my home town) for Thursday and Friday. We are predicted to get snow too. This rarely ever happens here in the south, and many times its predicted but never happens. But all signs are pointing to a snow event here tomorrow. My kids can hardly stand themselves. Many school districts are closing early tomorrow as the snow is predicted to show up in the afternoon. Add that to the incredible arctic air we've been having (really it DOES get cold in Atlanta), and Friday is shaping up to be a day where nothing will melt off.

So when you look at all of the factors, I guess I just wasn't supposed to go to West Virginia this week. Had I gone, and all of the snow planets had aligned, I probably would not have been able to get home on Friday.

Believe me, I have plenty to do instead of training, like documentation and quick reference materials. But I must admit that if we get our predicted 1 to 2 inches of snow, I'll be outside with my kids enjoying a southern rarity.