By Shirley Hawkins
LEIMERT PARK — With the internet virtually impacting all strata of society, the Los Angeles Unified School District is trying to meet the challenge with a variety of cutting-edge online technology that will make it easier for parents to access their child’s grades, check on class assignments and monitor student progress through a keyboard or a mobile device.
At a town hall meeting held Sept. 22 at Audubon Middle School, school board member George McKenna III, who represents Board District 1, urged attendees to attend the seven sessions available that would explain the array of online tools the district has to offer.
“Sometimes parents are too busy to come to school to check on their child’s academic progress,” McKenna said. “You might hear, ‘I don’t have time. I can’t come.’ Our challenge is that we’re trying to educate parents and to communicate with our community. If you can reach the parent, then you can reach the child.
McKenna’s mission is to urge more parents in his district, which includes the Crenshaw corridor, West Athens, View Park, Baldwin Hills, Northern Gardena, Chesterfield Square and Palms, to log online and to access technology for public education.
The town hall began with the introduction of an internet lounge where parents could set up an email and portal account that would allow them to communicate with their child’s school.
In another session, coordinator Antonio Hernandez introduced innovative software that allows parents to log onto a child’s account to view their grades, check when they have a quiz or assignment coming up, be updated when the principal sends out a school-wide announcement or receive school notifications through the parents’ computer or mobile app.
“Schoology has been around for about seven years and has 50 million users worldwide,” Hernandez said. “It’s very much like Facebook.”
Varouj Seuylemezian, who hosted a pilot program session called TECH app, explained that the new technology is a parent portal that parents will be able to access on their cell phone.
“More people use the phone today than any other device,” said. “This technology will go to all parent portal users via their phone.
“They will be able to see all of their student’s assignments and the due dates and check on student’s grades and attendance,” said Seuylemezian, who created the app. “This will reduce unnecessary school attendance for parents and eliminate papers that get lost in transit.
“The TECH app will be rolling out in October to about 700 schools,” said Seuylemezian, adding that he is looking forward to the launch. “Basically, the TECH app will be a one-stop shop.”
Naviance software, based out of Arlington, Virginia, is a web-based college and career readiness platform that helps middle school and high school students gain college awareness, explore college majors, learn about admission requirements and serves as an information portal for postsecondary education.
A number of Dorsey High School students attended the session and excitedly clicked on laptops provided by the school district to explore the many options provided by the software.
“Naviance is currently being used in 185 high schools and 116 middle schools in the Los Angeles school district,” said Donovan Goode, director of enterprise partnerships for the web-based software. “Our goal is to close the opportunity and achievement gap as the students leave high school and go on to post-secondary success.”
McKenna, who said that he is a “dinosaur” when it comes to technology and still uses his flip phone, also participated in the hands-on training sessions.
He revealed that education has always been a passion.
“I’m the descendant of slaves, I came from the segregated south — born in Louisiana,” McKenna said. “We were not supposed to be educated, but I know how powerful education is. Education is how you change the world, change lives and shape the future.”
Pausing, he added, “It’s so important for parents and students to utilize this digital Information that is being offered because education is the new weapon in the 21st century.”