Russ Davis of SchoolStatus

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Russ Davis (founder and CEO) of SchoolStatus, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of SchoolStatus – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

When I was growing up, my mother taught in the school district that I attended.
Even though she worked in the district, she still wasn’t fully aware of my performance. It was only after she met one of my teachers in a grocery store did she learn I wasn’t doing well. This was an incredibly fortunate encounter that changed the trajectory of my life. Once my mother got engaged in my day-to-day school work, two-way communication kept me on track and helped me as a student.

Most students don’t have a parent or guardian who works within their school district. We wanted to find a way for those kids to get that consistent level of parental involvement that was so important for me. That desire to help students by better connecting their school and home support systems was a main driver for founding SchoolStatus. We’re working to make school-home communication easier and more meaningful for teachers and parents. Our product is a game-changer for teachers, parents, and the students who gain extra support and encouragement in school. With a click of a button, educators can send a text message or make a phone call to follow up with parents and base those conversations on easily accessible data. Data-informed communication strengthens school-home relationships and helps improve academic outcomes for students.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

I encountered my biggest hurdles early in my education journey. As a high school student, I struggled to stay on track. Parental involvement with my school helped get me across the finish line and allowed me to go on and achieve my goals. The most rewarding part of my work at SchoolStatus is knowing that we’re helping to make it easier for educators to have meaningful, two-way communication with parents and guardians that can really have a lifelong impact on students and their ability to succeed. When a student is helped to get back on track, it opens up more possibilities for their future.

What does the future hold for SchoolStatus?

We’re excited about the future of SchoolStatus and the opportunities to expand the ways we can help and support the work of K-12 educators and leaders.

We’re growing and adding to our capabilities with new product offerings and features to support frictionless school-home communication that is informed by data. Recently, we acquired both Operoo and TeachBoost.

Operoo supports schools, clubs, and associations around the world to automate, manage, and track operational tasks from a single cloud-based platform. Operoo offers digital workflows for a range of routine processes, which are often manual, disconnected, and paper-based, including distributing and collecting parental consent, payments, medical and emergency information, student registration, staff onboarding, policy management, incident reporting, activity and group management, paperless school trips, and more.

By integrating Operoo’s operations and productivity technology into our comprehensive communications platform, we are taking another step toward creating a frictionless environment between school and home and enabling K-12 districts to provide an even better experience for their parent community and educator stakeholders.

The acquisition of Operoo comes at a pivotal time in the K-12 sector, amid surging demand to streamline and automate operational school tasks and processes and enhance communication. By further expanding the capabilities of our leading data and communications platform, SchoolStatus is well-positioned to transform the interactions between school and home.

TeachBoost supports educator observations, evaluations, and coaching to personalize professional development and support student success. The addition of TeachBoost enables SchoolStatus to offer our district partners a leading solution for every step of the K12 teacher development process, from evaluation and compliance to personalized coaching that drives educator growth. It’s an excellent complement to our leading data and communications platform, as it will help strengthen communications between educators, administrators, and coaches, ultimately leading to greater student success.

We’re also looking at ways we can share great educational resources and professional learning opportunities with districts. This year, TeachBoost release its 2022 Coaching Impact Report, which looked at what’s working, what’s not, and what’s needed to make teacher coaching programs even stronger. At SchoolStatus, we’re hosting regular webinars for educators so that our customers can learn about new ways to use the products to get the most value.

Our team is also growing, which I’m excited about. We recently hired Phil Charland, our first Chief Revenue Officer, and expanded our sales team.

We believe Phil’s extensive experience in sales and marketing strategy and his track record of driving business growth for education technology companies make him an ideal candidate to help us continue to accelerate our growth trajectory.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Mississippi?

When people think of locations for technology startups, they might not always consider Mississippi first. However, there are a lot of innovative companies in the area. In fact, Mississippi led the nation in the number of business startups during the pandemic. I love to hear about tech startups from Mississippi and how they’re using technology to improve experiences in a variety of fields.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice for entrepreneurs is to focus on building a strong team that you can rely on and listen to your team’s input. As an entrepreneur, you’re not going to be able to do everything yourself as your company grows. We’ve had a lot of former teachers join SchoolStatus and the perspectives they bring from that classroom experience really make us stronger as a company. You need to know you have a team that you can count on and trust. I’m proud of the team we’ve built at SchoolStatus and we’re continuing to grow that team.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series