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Posted: June 7, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Education app needs funding

Covington mom launches parent-teacher communication app, Kickstarter campaign

A Covington business owner and single mother of four felt a disconnect between parents and teachers when her children kept bringing home notes covered in mud or not at all, so she took matters into her own hands.

Leslie Haugen launched a crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter to allow her to develop TAPP: Teacher and Parent Portal, a parent-teacher communication mobile phone application she designed. The Kickstarter campaign has a goal to receive $25,000 by June 28 for the app to launch before the 2014-2015 school year.

“As a mother of four, I’ve struggled with sending notes to school and ensuring they actually get there,” Haugen said on the Kickstarter site. “I’ve also been completely surprised to learn of events we’d missed, homework that was not turned in and correspondences the teachers had sent home with my little angels assuming they would reach me.

“I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and create a more streamlined process for sending my communications to teachers.”

Haugen, a website developer and graphic designer who sends her children to East Newton Elementary School, created the app to allow parents and teachers to communicate directly, whether about homework and project due-dates, sick days or real-time notifications when messages are read.

Teachers can post homework and send notifications about parent-teacher conferences and field trips to everyone or contact a single parent.

“(My children) used to change the wording on notes so I would think I was signing something I wasn’t,” Haugen said.
The app also cuts down on paper-waste and gives teachers a more confidential and effective way to send home sensitive messages.

“My plan is to create the application and distribute it with an easy-to-follow online guide to set it up for teachers and schools and charge a nominal usage fee of $1.99 to parents as they download the application, which would help with updating the software in the long term.”

TAPP will be free to educators and available to download on both the iPhone and Android. And while parents will be asked to pay for a download, they only have to pay once and can manage any number of children through the same portal.

However, messages and notifications are not the only aspect of TAPP that Haugen wants to incorporate if she gets the necessary funding.

“I also had been stricken many times with empathy for those who experienced emergency situations in the classroom that we hear about far too frequently,” Haugen said. “I feel if teachers had a one-stop, easy ‘panic button’ type of safety measure, that the safety of them and their students in their care would be much greater.”

She included a panic button in the app that can be accessed with a tap and slide to enter a code that would notify administration or security of an emergency situation requiring assistance in the classroom.

Many classrooms have such buttons built into either walls, desks or telephones, Haugen said, but what happens when the emergency occurs and the teacher is with students at recess or not close enough to those built in emergency contacts in the classroom? Cell phones are usually kept in a pocket and can be reached wherever the teacher is, which may potentially be somewhere in hiding during an emergency.

“If the teacher isn’t in that area of the room at the time and can’t move around, it’s really a useless feature,” Haugen said. “Most people, in general, have their phones on them or within arms’ reach at all times.”

Haugen must receive the funding she asked for before June 28 to be able to develop the app. Kickstarter campaigns usually offer incentives for donations as a thank you, which are listed on the site according to the level of funding each person gives.

Visit Haugen’s campaign at kickstarter.com/projects/285984019/tapp-is-a-parent-teacher-communication-innovation or her business website at lesliehaugen.com.

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