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EdTech Leader Teddy Gabbart of ParentSquare Talks Communications & School Social Media

By May 15, 20244 min read

Teddy Gabbart of ParentSquare

Social media presents some unique challenges and opportunities for school PR professionals and the districts they serve. Just ask edtech leader Teddy Gabbart. After founding Gabbart Communications in 2003, Teddy spent the better part of two decades building edtech solutions designed to help school administrators, teachers, and coaches improve their communications with students, families, and their local communities.

With ParentSquare’s 2023 acquisition of Gabbart Communications (which then served 600+ districts), Teddy joined the fast-growing company’s dynamic, founder-led leadership team as SVP of Strategic Growth. Today, he plays a key role in helping ParentSquare deliver its solutions to more than 24,000 schools. On the heels of a recently announced partnership between Class Intercom and ParentSquare, we sat down with Teddy to get his take on school communications and, specifically, school social media. Here’s what he had to say. 

CI: ParentSquare focuses on contextualizing communications and being intentional about them. Why is that important for schools?

TG: The real goal behind everything we do at ParentSquare is student success. We as a company take the approach that the more informed families are about what’s going in their child’s school and district, the more it becomes a partnership—one that works toward student success. So, we’re always working to keep parents informed and involved, and facilitating that however we can. That’s a core piece of why I felt like ParentSquare was a home for me personally, too. Same missions; same thought processes.

CI: Can you talk about the importance of school storytelling and the role of social media content?

TG: Every school has a story to tell. There are thousands of positive things happening across school districts every single day. With one public information officer or even two communications professionals in the district, there’s just no way to capture everything going on. So, it’s more important than ever for schools to share all of their successes and accomplishments because those stories rarely make the evening news. Social media becomes the perfect platform for schools and districts to share those positive stories consistently, and there’s so much that needs to be shared. What Class Intercom is doing—making it easy for schools to source those photos and videos and stories—makes it really feasible to promote those positive aspects of the district, and it’s just phenomenal.

CI: What do schools struggle with when it comes to social media communications?

TG: Parents and communities form many of their opinions based on what they hear about the district. When the message coming through social media—and across the board, really—is positive, that’s very powerful. It’s like building up a bank of positive comments, thoughts, and vibes; then when negative things happen, it becomes a withdrawal against all the positives. If schools aren’t telling their own story and sharing those positive things, then they’re in the negative. But, if you’ve done a good job on the front end of building up that brand and reputation and sentiment ahead of time, then those road bumps are taken more lightly, and schools have a lot of advocates and people in their corner.

CI: Can you talk a little bit about how ParentSquare is innovating?

TG: We’re focused on ensuring our technology meets and exceeds expectations when it comes to school communications. Partnerships like this one are certainly part of that. We’ve also been intentional about exploring and implementing AI. For example, one big headache for school districts is the need for alt text on photos and the time it takes to create that manually. We use AI to analyze photos being posted and automatically generate multiple alt text options for users to accept, modify, or write their own. It’s amazing how accurate it is! We’re also continuing to invest in language translation to ensure that we can communicate with every family.

CI: Anything else you’d like to add?

TG: We’re really excited to partner with Class Intercom. This is a great tool that is very aligned with our mission and our approach—and with a team of great people behind it. It’s much deeper than just being able to publish and update to a social media channel. The tool solves some really pressing problems schools are facing when it comes to sourcing photos, videos, and stories, and actively managing school social media. With our tools working together, it’s a one-two punch!  

Interested in learning more about how Class Intercom and ParentSquare are working together to serve schools and districts of all types and sizes? Follow the link below. 

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Class Intercom

The Class Intercom content team offers powerful perspective on social media content, technology, and management for schools and districts. Our approach is one of seamless collaboration, scheduling, moderation, and archival—all backed by powerful pedagogy.