What to do when you are new to the area and are looking for child care or private schools for your children?
Trevor Waddington of Olney, who has worked in the education field for 15 years, including 10 in admissions, said he has heard from many parents embarking on that search, not knowing where to even begin.
While there are various education and day-care websites out there, many list schools and facilities that pay to be included. Waddington’s goal was to create an all-encompassing site that listed as many home child-care providers, day-care centers and schools he could find in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
That website, DCschoolHUB.com, went live May 1, after months of researching day-care centers, preschools, private schools and independent schools.
“It’s really going to change the way people search the Web for schools,” he said.
Waddington said website is going after millennials and what is important to them.
“The look, feel and navigation are state-of-the-art, which is important to the generation, and the information provided by my team and the care centers and schools themselves provides answers to questions millennials have about education and what’s important to them,” he said.
One of the site’s most appealing features, Waddington said, is the section that answers one of the most important questions — Who’s Got Spots? Parents can easily see which schools or child-care centers have openings or will have in the near future, without having to waste time making dozens of phone calls.
There also are forums, serving a “meeting place” for parents and school administrators. School officials can set up chat rooms to talk with busy parents, during their lunch hour, for example.
So far, Waddington said, he has received positive feedback. There have been more than 1,700 visitors to the site.
Malcolm Lester is the head of school for Grace Episcopal Day School in Kensington.
Although the website has not been up long, Lester said he believes there is a market for it, because there are so many independent and parochial schools in the area, and because this is such a transient area.
“It’s great to have a central agency to consult, rather than Google 50 different school websites,” he said. “It’s a great resource for families, and the blog articles are helpful, for me as the parent of three children, not just as an educator.”
Lester himself has contributed a blog article, “Responsive Classrooms 101,” which looks at the social curriculum used at Grace and other Episcopal schools.
Patrick Malone, head of school at Church of the Redeemer School in Gaithersburg, said the website provides a valuable entry point to his school and the programs it offers.
“Social media is becoming a more important way to get your name out into the public arena,” he said. “The first thing parents are going to do when looking for schools is go online, and here’s yet another online way to connect with our school.”
Malone said that since the website went up, his school has received inquiries from areas outside its normal geographic boundaries, such as Prince George’s County and Silver Spring.
“So far, for us, it has been a good thing,” he said. “There’s no hard data as students in seats, but I am sure that will come.”
Waddington, currently the admissions director for Christ Episcopal School in Rockville and the immediate past president of the Olney Chamber of Commerce, said he footed the upfront costs for the site himself. There is some advertising revenue, and while schools and day-care centers do not pay to be listed, they can pay to show up as a “featured” school or facility.
“It’s a constant work in progress,” he said. “I spend most nights and weekends bringing rich content and otherwise improving the site.”
Waddington’s long-term plan is to create similar websites for other metropolitan regions around the country.