Editor's Note: I asked Stephen Alexander of Wilson International to explain how out-sourcing a boarding program works. ~Rob Kennedy
1. Tell us about Wilson International, its history and the services it provides for schools.
Wilson International aims to be on the forefront of global trends in private preparatory school education, providing a housing solution to schools who recognize the value of increased diversity and academic caliber of their prospective students. The company was founded just this year, specifically for our first program in Roanoke, Virginia. Beyond providing a much-needed housing solution to our affiliate schools, Wilson cherishes the opportunity to help nurture thoughtful and competent global citizens, within the framework of our affiliate schools' mission statements. Here in Roanoke, Wilson provides 16 rooms and a total of 48 beds to its affiliates in a recently restored historical building in the heart of downtown. The building is completely updated with a fully secured access control program, designated fiber optic internet service, laundry facilities, and a full-time chef. In addition to room and board, Wilson provides a residential life program for its students and is also creating a recruiting branch of the company to assist day schools that need a jump-start in their international admission goals.
Both schools had engaged in specific and strategic initiatives to increase the diversity and caliber of their prospective students in the last seven years. Because
Disclaimer: I am writing this article about IT infrastructure with small private schools in mind. I am basing my suggestions on my more than thirty years working as an IT professional in private schools and selling technology equipment and services to them. It is my hope that these talking points will save you some money and give you and your staff some peace of mind so that you can focus on the important job you have, namely, teaching your students. ~Rob Kennedy, MCT, CSE
Most medium to large-sized schools will have professional IT staff on their payroll. But, while small schools need professional IT advice just as much, if not more, than the larger schools do, finding the money to pay for the needed expertise is always a major challenge in a small school. Here then are some practical, low-cost solutions to keep your important data secure.
1. Put all your applications and data in the cloud.
This is probably the least expensive way for a small school to deal with securing your important data. For purposes of this essay, I define important data as the confidential personal and academic information which your families and students have entrusted to you. Important data also includes the school's financials and business correspondence.
Ten or fifteen years ago you would have been told that you have to have a server and a complicated network infrastructure to keep everything secure. Nowadays you can keep everything secure in the cloud. Yes, literally there is an app for that.
As you begin thinking about private schools, you will add schools from various sources to your initial list of potential schools. That’s fine. Accept all suggestions and advice in the early stages of your search for the right school or schools. Friends will suggest schools which their children attend. Family will mention schools that your uncle or aunt attended. And so on. Finally, you will explore on your own. Private School Review is a great place to start because the site is devoted to private K-12 schools. The following screenshot gives you an idea of number of schools within a fifty mile radius of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. (I selected that area because I am familiar with it as I have family there. Also itt is not a major urban area.)
After exploring schools and including all the other suggestions you will receive, you will most likely end up with a list of 5-10 schools. Now, this is where the private school search process becomes tricky. Why is that? Simply because you have to whittle that long list of potential schools down to a more manageable list of 2-3 schools. Selecting a school is not like buying a watch on Amazon. It’s a lot like buying a house. And just as with buying a house, you have to really like the house.