What I Did This Summer

What did you do this summer?

It’s the question we ask of all our returning students we haven’t seen since June.

It’s been a bit of a crazy summer for me.

Well, more than a bit, really.

Our Middle School technically let out June 14. That following Monday, I boarded a plane with our new (and awesome) Communications Director, Kelly Andrews bound for Connecticut and FinalSiteU.

Finalsite is the company that has been hosting our website for the last few years and we were attending to learn more about the platform and what we could do in the way of customizations, mobile implementations, social media connections etc.

We spent the next three days outside of Hartford learning more about FinalSite’s platform, specifically what it could do for us and what it couldn’t do for us. Being a programmer (amateur, of course, but I still have a few chops) and someone who doesn’t do well being told that the trade off of flexibility is worth a lock-in, I was chaffed.

It didn’t take us long at the conference to hatch a pipe-dream plan to (completely re-)build the Carolina Day website ourselves before school started back (which it did this week for faculty) over the course of 2 months. We literally started this project with a cocktail napkin drawing and more idealism than time.

Tom Trigg, our Head Master, gave us a skeptical but supportive greenlight to see what we could do (if only more teachers in our country believed in their students the way he believes in his faculty, we could change the world overnight).

However, here we are… we’ve done it.

We’ve completely rebuilt the Carolina Day website on top of an open source and extensively flexible (and more authentic) WordPress.org hosted site, thrown in some of my SEO know-how and we now have a site that reflects the true daring, inventiveness and awesomeness of our school.

On top of that, we’ve created “Centrals” for each division and our Athletics programs on top of Google Sites (we’re a Google Apps school that treasures the collaborative features of the platform and the “Share” metaphor extends into our sinews and across the traditional divisional boundaries).

We’re really proud of these Centrals. They’re magical.

You can see them at the awesome urls of:

http://lowerschoolcentral.com
http://middleschoolcentral.com
http://upperschoolcentral.com
http://keyschoolcentral.com

These Centrals will transfrom how we communicate with parents and our community, how we do work in (and outside of) our classes with students and how we as a school continue to grow, adapt and ultimately become better because of the evolving nature of the web.

Not only that, but the Centrals bring together our school in ways not possible before. Even though we’ve seperated them out from a main site, we’ve created unique and dynamic communications and expectations of engagements across the board. So even though each division has it’s own Central, each division is participating in something awe-inspiring and ultimately jaw-dropping when you consider the scope of our learning community.

It’s been an amazing summer of growth, frustration, patience, elation, disappointment and tears (good and bad) for me. I expect nothing less from my 7th grade students, so I feel as if I’ve come out of this experience a better teacher and a better learner and a better communicator.

These are exciting times for Carolina Day.

These are exciting times for me.

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