The West Side Montessori School (WSMS) has been offering a Montessori program for early learners since 1963. The school has grown from fifteen students to over one hundred and they also offer a teacher education program (WSMS-TEP) for adult learners training to become Montessori teachers. Based on the Upper West Side of New York City, they also have locations in New Jersey and Beijing China. In 2015, they renovated part of the children’s gymnasium into an adult learning space for their WSMS-TEP students. Needless to say, growth and development are important to the founders, faculty and students, both young and young at heart. And so we knew a Workplace Innovation Platform, like FileMaker, would facilitate that growth.
WSMS had an old, flat FileMaker database that was developed without the use of typical relational database modeling techniques that we see in modern databases. As you can imagine, their database was pretty clunky and cumbersome to use and manage. Oftentimes, users had to manually enter data multiple times in different areas of the system. For example, if the same student happened to apply to the program twice, TEP staff would have to enter all of the student information twice as opposed to referring to a single student record for all information regarding that student.
After an initial free consultation and some additional discovery to discuss specific requirements and functions of their custom application, The Support Group collaborated with WSMS-TEP to create what we would consider a pretty standard, but robust FileMaker application. The ultimate goal of the app was to reduce redundancies, minimize administration time and maximize user autonomy, which are fundamental attributes of the FileMaker Platform. We developed an education enrollment database that is able to track the lifecycle of their teacher students such as:
- Tuition payments
- Academic cohorts
- Certification reports
- Supporting documentation
The administrators of the TEP program are the main users of the app. And they agree that the new system has successfully streamlined their workflow and made it much easier for them to track their current and prospective student enrollment.
Working with The Support Group from initial discovery through design and implementation was not just efficient, but enjoyable! They kept track of our estimated budget and helped us make decisions to achieve our goals. They provided suggestions and explanations to help us determine next steps and have been responsive to requests throughout the process. We are thrilled with the outcome!
— Lisanne Pinciotti, Program Director and EC Level Coordinator
The app has also made the certification process for each student more efficient. All of the forms which are required for teacher certification are stored in the new app. Previously, the staff would have to hand enter the course hours for each student individually and now the information is transferred to the appropriate forms according to the student’s records. So what was a disorganized process is now automatically and digitally managed within a nice looking FileMaker interface.
The new application was strategically built to be flexible and scalable so that the users can add new TEP programs and curricula themselves. They do not have to enlist the help of a developer to manage simple system changes. This was an important requirement because the organization expects to expand over the next few years.
Another important functional component of the app is its ability to update tuition rates and fees. The Support Group arranged it such that basic financial changes are dynamically reflected on invoices and within the transaction logs for each student. Previously, rates and fees were hardcoded and that made them difficult to change. Now the TEP staff can systematically add and update program costs on their own.
Leaps and Bounds
A true workplace innovation platform, WSMS’s custom management system has improved their workflows and remote accessibility. They are less reliant on hard-copy documentation and free to work wherever they want.
This enrollment management app is just the first module in an education operations management system. We are working on a comprehensive contacts module. This module will not only track the enrollment details of WSMS’s adult students but all of their operations contacts such as schools within their practicum course of study and their respective administrators, supervising teachers and those interested in ongoing professional development.
Want to learn more about how the FileMaker Platform can help your workflows? Read more customer success stories.