Case Study: Memphis Scholars Join With Inspiroz
On Charter School Network’s IT
Planning to open one school the first year, followed by two more schools the second year, Nick Patterson, the former executive director of Memphis Scholars, was faced with a unique opportunity.
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The new location was a turnaround school, so it came with a number of assets but they would need to create a new network and move all the technology over to it. Not only that, but they also needed to retrofit the building, building out computer labs, adding five to eight computers in each classroom and then setting up student computers – all on a short timeline.
Creating A Strategic Partnership
Memphis Scholars started working with Inspiroz on the planning of their first Memphis school. Milan Patel, CEO and co-founder of Inspiroz, worked closely with Patterson to determine what the new school would need to be successful.
“Milan was great. He walked the buildings with us, asking if we planned to do things like blended learning and what other projects we had planned for each year,” Patterson said.
Several Inspiroz employees joined the project, working to separate the school from its former IT network and setting up an entirely new one for the charter school. They performed an extensive inventory of every single asset, outlining the device’s age, how many years were left on the warranty and when it should be replaced.
With the school’s inherited assets, the inventory was a bit more complex than planned, Patterson said.
“Initially I was excited because we had all these computers, but we found that two-thirds of them didn’t work or wouldn’t run the software we wanted to use in the new charter school,” Patterson said.
Defining A Path Forward
Once the initial inventory was done, the Inspiroz team worked with the Memphis Scholars administration to determine what technology they needed for the new school.
After completing a comprehensive future-state analysis, the Inspiroz team presented it to Patterson.
“They’ve been really good about helping us prioritize. In order to get everything, it’ll cost $180,000. But that’s not in our budget and they’re great about saying ‘This is the most important thing. As an example, this server is required and it should be your top priority,’ ” Patterson said.
“They’ll talk us through their plan and outline the most important things. They have the knowledge and expertise and will tell us, ‘This is what it will cost.’ It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with that big number and instead they break it down and then focus on the top projects.”
Partnering With Other Vendors
In addition to their work on the school’s IT infrastructure, the Inspiroz team also helped with the school’s other vendors. They consulted with their E-Rate partner, gathering all the information they needed for their proposal.
“It was great. We just connected them to our partner and they were able to keep the project moving,” Patterson said.
Building A Strong, Strategic Relationship
As Memphis Scholars moved from the initial startup phase of their new schools, Inspiroz took on more of an ongoing support role.
Working with an account director provided Memphis Scholars a point person for all of their project questions.
“We have someone we can go to for anything,” Patterson said. “He’s always able to listen to what we need and then work with the Inspiroz technical team to get everything figured out.”
Working with Inspiroz was the right choice for the growing network, Patterson said. They were a key partner in getting the new Memphis network up and running, providing critical advice and support for each stage of the expansion.
“They let us know what we had and what we needed to go forward at each stage. We could ask them questions about whatever we needed and they’ve been very good to us, offering strategic advice and identifying the most beneficial projects to focus on.”
Share Your Experiences:
Have you ever worked on a turnaround school? What were the key obstacles you faced? When opening a new school, what were your biggest technology challenges?
- Memphis Scholars opened three schools in two years
- All three locations were turnaround schools, presenting some unique technology challenges
- Inspiroz worked closely with Memphis Scholars to create its IT infrastructure
- They also provided ongoing support and strategic planning as the charter school network expanded