This year marks the 10th anniversary of the FACTS Elevate conference (formerly the RenWeb Power Conference). At the conference, schools have been able to meet with FACTS experts, learn about industry best practices, and — perhaps most importantly — connect with peers.
In celebration of this anniversary, we sat down with Jeremy Penner, director of K-12 product strategy, who has been an integral part of the annual user group conference from the start. Here’s some highlights from our conversation.
What’s it like working at FACTS?
FACTS is a great place to work. I like working with the people and get to work with fun and exciting software. It’s also important to me that we build products for schools. I attended a private school, my mom was a principal there, my sister has been a teacher now for 25 years. Education is an important part of my family and my work.
What does your job entail?
I oversee all of our product development — Tuition Management, Grant & Aid Assessment, our Student Information System (SIS), and all the solutions that branch off of those main three. I look for what gaps we need to fill in the market, what enhancements are coming, and make sure that as schools’ processes change we’re able to adapt to their needs.
What are the challenges facing K-12 private education today?
Integrating technology. Schools have a lot of systems that they use between enrollment management, tuition, and countless teacher applications for presenting material or making it more engaging.
There’s so much technology, and schools see all these tech-savy younger parents and know they have to meet those expectations. But when they try to implement multiple tech companies, they can end up requiring parents and teachers to log into 10 different sites. They have to figure out a way to integrate to create a seamless customer and teacher experience.
Taming data. How do you avoid dual entry of student data? And keep the data safe and remain compliant? And keep users from having to use multiple logins? There’s not a lot of schools that have solved those problems. At FACTS, we have products that serve every department at the school. Our goal is to help you have the best experience possible, so we integrate everything to avoid dual entry. If a school uses our tuition and SIS system, parents have one single-sign on.
Competition. The way private schools can defend against growing public and charter school competition is to focus on the parent experience — mission-driven, community-based, small classroom learning experience.
We’re constantly thinking, “How can we improve the parent experience?” At FACTS, that means simplifying the technology so parents log on to do everything in one portal — view grades, see school lunch, pay tuition, etc. We look for the potential pain points for our schools’ parents.
What do you enjoy most about FACTS Elevate?
I enjoy meeting as many users as possible. You see familiar people every year and also meet new attendees. It’s an opportunity to hear about the challenges teachers are facing and make sure we’re continually working on the right solutions.
Why should a user come to the conference?
The amount of training we provide in a short amount of time is a great way to boost your knowledge in a couple of days. You get to learn about all the things you didn’t know that we offer, and the exciting enhancements coming up.
The most valuable part of the conference is talking with other users. Our FACTS reps can tell you all day about our products and features, but you’ll gain more insight and value talking to another school administrator who had the same problem and figured out how to solve it. The conference is a great way to get information you wouldn’t get otherwise.
What will we hear there?
We’re excited to announce some highly anticipated third-party integrations, training for teachers in our software itself, and highlight our newest product FACTS Giving — which has had a very positive response from school fundraising teams (see an on-demand webinar here).
For specific details, you’ll have to come to FACTS Elevate to hear for yourself!