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Meet FACTS President Scott Spethman

March seems like such a long time ago, doesn’t it?
It was a month filled with fear, doubt, and (in case you haven’t heard this word often enough) uncertainty. But I remember feeling one thing in particular: Confidence. I felt confident that the world of education would rise to the challenge and adapt – and that my team would do the same.
I’m incredibly happy to report that my confidence wasn’t unfounded.

Maintaining Communication no Matter What
This was a year of change for education and educators alike. FACTS associates have been working from home since March. Like many others, we’re constantly on video calls and working remotely to support our schools. Our communication channels may have changed, but I’m proud of our associates for stepping up to maintain our level of service for our partner schools. Even though we miss visiting campuses and chatting with clients at conferences and events, we’ve made do. It was our goal to be there for our clients – a constant, comforting presence whenever they needed us.

Addressing Trends and Concerns from the Independent School Community
The education industry shifted drastically in early 2020. FACTS shifted as well. We put an emphasis on helping schools prepare to offer more personalized education. We focused on 1:1 learning, more flexible school models, parent communication – we even built out a COVID-19 resource center that our independent school partners could use throughout the year. Another big focus for us has been addressing the social-emotional needs of students. We’ve reevaluated the ways we (and schools) can communicate with students and families. And we’re doing everything we can to make the process smoother for everyone – like improving our Family App.

FACTS' COVID-19 Resource Center
The Future of FACTS
We’re well-positioned to support the 11,500 schools and three million families we work with, regardless of the status of COVID-19. I’m particularly excited about the enhancements we have planned for our SIS. It’s already very sophisticated, but we’re planning to build it out even more over the next year. On top of that, we’ll be enhancing our Application & Enrollment product, and introducing our new open API to continue supporting the goals of our partner schools. The confidence I had back in March hasn’t wavered – it’s actually gotten stronger. We’ll be ready to help our partners move forward in 2021.

Looking Forward to the Post-COVID Era
Selfishly, I can’t wait to travel back to Chicago for a Portillo’s Italian Beef. (If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it.) But on a more serious note, I miss having contact with the team and our customers on a regular basis. Human connection is something we all crave – and I’m no exception. Over the past 33 years, much of my career has been spent on the road. For the first time in a long while, I’ve been at home for eight straight months. When it’s safe to do so, I look forward to spending time relaxing with friends, sharing meals with clients, and making new connections.

9 Tips To Develop A School Software RFP

Evaluating software solutions for your school can be a daunting task. What are requirements versus nice-to-haves? Who should be involved? Where should I begin? Developing an RFP (Request for Proposal) can help provide structure for the process. Below are 9 suggestions based on our experience responding to customer RFPs.

1. You may not need an RFP

Some schools submit 100-page RFPs but don’t have a process established for vetting proposals once they are received. Other schools do not use an RFP but have a process that is organized, efficient, and managed well. The most important thing is to know what your school needs and ensure that vendors meet those needs. If you do decide to use an RFP, the format doesn’t matter—just clearly articulate your needs, timeline, and requirements for the vendor. Speaking of which...

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5 Reasons Why Now Is the Time to Evaluate Your Information Systems

In Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi, Piscine Molitor, or “Pi” survives for months in a lifeboat with a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and Bengal tiger. When Pi drifts ashore and tells his story, he’s confronted by doubters. How could a boy survive out at sea with wild animals? Pi’s response is simple – just because you’ve never seen a boy survive in a raft with a Bengal tiger doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Although Life of Pi is a work of fiction, many schools are currently operating in this paradigm – just because we’ve never done something before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

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ATLIS Virtual Town Hall 11 November 2020: Like No Other School Year

Late in the fall season, technology leaders have hit a stride, adjusting to the ever-changing circumstances around school during a pandemic. In this reflective town hall, leaders discussed what has worked well and needs to continue beyond this school year, along with what needs to be adjusted. Special guest Pamela Livingston Gaudet, author of 'Like No Other School Year' joined us to share her insights.  

Quick Links

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Protect Your School From Cyberattacks During Remote Learning

Whether your school is in person and planning for potential remote/hybrid scenarios, or if your students are currently virtual, learning from home introduces new cybersecurity risks to your community. We’ve listed 6 low-cost, high-impact things you can do today to improve the security at your school.

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ATLIS 2025: Equipped for the Future

Just 5 minutes of your time can help shape ATLIS’s post-pandemic path 

Most of our mental bandwidth is dedicated to the immediate fires. There is no time to ask strategic questions. We’re too busy to evaluate our long-term goals. Which is exactly why we MUST do it now.

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Measuring Up: ATLIS Launches New Compensation Benchmark Report

ATLIS teamed up with Ed Tech Recruiting to launch a new benchmark report focusing on what technology leaders earn in the way of salaries and benefits in their roles at independent schools. The in-depth analysis looks at compensation through a wide variety of lenses, giving tech leaders ample opportunity to have meaningful conversations around compensation. [10-minute read]


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ATLIS Solidarity Statement

ATLIS Solidarity Statement 

Dear ATLIS Community,

Last week, across the nation and the globe, we witnessed communities coming together to

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June 3 ATLIS Town Hall School Reopening, Wellness, Communication


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Don’t forget about bandwidth in your remote and hybrid learning plans

There is a lot of talk about what school is going to look like in September and a lot of questions that have come with it. Will we open online? What will our schedule look like? Will we have some kids or teachers in the building and some at home? Blended? Hybrid? Synchronous? Asynchronous? The questions go on and on…

Cross-posted from the blog of William Stites, Technology Director at Montclair Kimberley Academy and ATLIS Pillar Award Winner

One clear thing is that we will be using some form of technology to connect people that are in one place to those in another. With this, there are many hardware pieces to consider and how they will fit a school’s unique learning plan.

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Mount Tamalpais School Member Spotlight #ATLISLife

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Blue Ridge School Member Spotlight #ATLISLife

ATLIS Life Logo

Blue Ridge School Photos

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E-Sports Live Chat

Opening summary

Hubert introduced the idea of using e-Sports as a framework for the curriculum.

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'Wait… you want to do what?' Live Chat

How to navigate the various conversations internally within your school and externally with your SIS vendor when your school wants to do something within the SIS that is risky or may introduce too much complexity. Conversation leaders Anne Sena, of St. David’s School in Raleigh, NC and Bill Stites, of Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair, NJ, will share details of how they navigated the political, technical and human aspects of these type of discussions in a way that preserved, if not strengthened, their relationships with everyone involved while reducing risk, maintaining a supportable architecture and working to enable the ideas their schools had to differentiate and evolve.


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Laurel School Member Spotlight #ATLISLife

#ATLISlife Laurel School Feature

Laurel School, ATLIS members since 2016

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Who’s in Charge? You Are.

We’re taking steps that allow you to customize your conference experience. 

Executive Director Christina Lewellen shares a new annual conference planning process that puts you in charge. [10-minute read]

Let’s talk about how much I love Starbucks. I was an early adopter (and defender) of the chain because 1) I can get exactly what I want, and 2) I know I’m going to get exactly what I expect for my $5. Whether you’re a fan of Starbucks’ lattes or not, the company certainly kicked off a culture of customization that has transcended many industries.

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Board Announces Dues, Cap Increase to Continue Membership Benefits Expansion

July 1, 2019 (San Carlos, Calif.)—The Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools (ATLIS) has announced the association will increase its dues rate to $3.75 per enrolled student with a cap of $3,750 per school, effective July 1, 2019. This increase, approved by the ATLIS Board of Directors, will allow the association to maintain the momentum it has built in its first four years as an organization as it continues to expand and improve its vast membership offerings.

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Photosharing at the ATLIS 2019 Annual Conference

Cross-posted from Vidigami

4 Things to Look Out for at ATLIS 2019 Annual Conference

Team Vidigami is excited to return to the annual ATLIS conference. Held this year in Dallas from April 14-17, ATLIS focuses on the independent school technology community, and will bring together more than 500 independent school technology professionals, including more than 30 vendors across 35 states and 3 countries to learn, connect, and share knowledge.

Along with fellow Platinum Sponsors; Veracross and LearnPlatform, Vidigami will participate as Media Management Partner, bringing back its private social platform as ATLIS’s dedicated portal for sharing event highlights, candids, keynotes, and more. As part of the 3-day conference, Vidigami’s roaming photographer will be on-the-go capturing great moments, from keynote speeches, sessions, and networking breaks, to activities and workshops. Photos and videos will be professionally captured and centralized in Vidigami, then made available exclusively to attendees through a personalized feed.

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Another Day, Another PHISHING Attempt

Earlier this fall, William Stites, Director of Technology at Montclair-Kimberley Academy (NJ) shared this post about his school's experiences with and responses to several phishing attempts. The post confirms how frequent such attempts can be and how they have unfortunately become part of daily life at schools. Stites, who is also one of the co-hosts for the ATLIS Information Systems User Group, describes how phishing attempts provide an opportunity for training and education. -- SD

[15 min. read]

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