Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment, an ECE-grade 5 school in Denver Public Schools, won $10,000 in funding during the first design challenge in January 2015. With one of the most diverse student populations in the district, they have 465 students enrolled and more than 22 languages spoken at home. This presents difficulty when teachers and staff need to communicate with parents both during school events and to support student achievement. In an effort to remedy their frus-trations, a small team of teachers and the school leader devised a concept for an app that could translate school communications efficiently and quickly in order to reach more families. Eight months after winning, Montclair unveiled their app, Montclair Post, during back to school to events, and between parent training sessions and a strong system for marketing the tool to families, they have made considerable strides towards overcoming communication and language barriers at the school.
Although the Montclair Post app does not translate all languages spoken at Montclair, it does translate about 15 of them, an improvement from the 2 to 3 languages that were translated before. The app also reduced staff hours in compiling the weekly newsletter and cut down in paper costs. Furthermore, the app provides a number of other features that have increased parent involvement and engagement, such as pop-up notifications, reminding everyone (staff and families) about upcoming field trips and activities. A major lesson was that most families do not have computers or internet at home, and therefore, smartphones are truly the best technology solution for direct communication with parents.