Confidence In A Secure Classroom

Confidence In A Secure Classroom

Montessori school uses network video as the new Show-and-Tell

With a strong focus on maintaining parents’ assurance in the educational environment’s safety and security, the Dancing Moose Montessori School in West Valley City, Utah, has installed an array of Axis high-resolution network cameras in each of its classrooms to monitor activity and to protect its students and staff. In addition, the school is able to watch their property during the school day and afterhours with cameras deployed on the outside perimeter of the building.

The robust camera system provides transparency as well as security. Classroom, gym and playground cameras stream their video to two large-screen monitors in the school that administrators can watch to keep an eye on students and teachers without interfering with classroom and outdoor activities.

Specializing in early childhood development—18 months through second grade—Dancing Moose follows the Montessori philosophy, which emphasizes independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development.

“Our goal is to nurture our students’ critical thinking skills and help them develop a high degree of self-confidence so that when they move on to higher education they’ll be at the top of their class,” said Jennifer Duffield, executive director of the Dancing Moose Montessori School.

A PROGRESSIVE SOLUTION FOR A PROGRESSIVE SCHOOL

Dancing Moose turned to Stone Security of Salt Lake City to design and install the state-of-the-art, integrated monitoring and security system. In addition to a mix of high-resolution Axis network cameras and a Milestone Xprotect Express network VMS, the solution includes a 4U BCD-V2MT Tower Server powered by HP, Netgear 24-port POE switches and a DMP intrusion system.

At the school’s original location which was opened in 2007, Stone Security installed AXIS 212 PTZ-V network cameras inside each of the dozen classrooms to give administrators visibility into every corner of the room. When Dancing Moose opened its second location in 2014, each classroom in the new building was equipped with either a wide-angle, three-megapixel AXIS M3006-V fixed dome network camera or panoramic, five-megapixel AXIS M3007-PV fixed dome network camera to provide full visibility.

For external security, Stone Security installed HDTV-quality 720p AXIS P3364-VE fixed dome network cameras around the outside of the building. The cameras’ Lightfinder technology is ideal for lowlight conditions, providing full-color fidelity even during nighttime surveillance. The exterior cameras are set to record on motion afterhours.

“We recommended Axis network cameras specifically because they are easy to use, provide high resolution, and offer a great deal of flexibility. You can choose frame rates, resolution and recording options on the fly,” said Andy Schreyer of Stone Security.

“Since Milestone and Axis operate on an open platform system we are able to provide our client with the flexibility to extend the system to future schools and add new integrations over time, thus creating equity in the system,” Schreyer said. “Milestone keeps up as Axis releases new cameras with updated features. This eliminates the need for wholesale system replacement because the solution never becomes obsolete.”

PROVIDING A SAFE AND TRANSPARENT LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Crossing the threshold from babyhood to preschooler can be a stressful, sometimes tearful time for students and their parents. But Dancing Moose uses this innovative system to also minimize separation anxiety. After parents drop off their youngsters they can stop in the lobby to view one of the two 42-inch monitors streaming video of what’s happening in their child’s classroom.

This ability to unobtrusively observe their child has become a huge selling point for the school. “Parents love the ability to drop off their children, who may be crying and suffering from separation anxiety, and check in after five minutes to see that their child is now happy and engaged in classroom activity,” Duffield said. “It’s really powerful.”

Observing how a child learns and interacts with classmates and teachers not only provides parents with peace of mind but allows administrators to remotely evaluate teachers and provide them with insights on individual students’ behavior.

“From a school director’s point of view it’s really nice to pull up a classroom view and see how a teacher is doing, see if her kids are having a hard time at naptime, for example,” Duffield said. “If we see this cluster needs some help we can just jump in and lend assistance.”

WATCHING THEIR CHILDREN THRIVE

With 240 students in the school, the lobby can become a bit crowded at times as parents flock to the monitors.

“It’s a very popular area at drop off and pick up times of day,” Duffield said. “Occasionally a parent comes over on their lunch break. We even have a group of moms who regularly come here half an hour before dismissal just to watch their kids on camera.”

According to Duffield, watching circle time activity is a big hit with parents because it lets them see how their child is engaged with what the teacher is teaching. It also helps the parents to see how their child is interacting with classmates. Are they being social? Are they being disruptive?

“Sometimes I have to hold the parent back from going into the classroom and chastising their child for misbehaving,” Duffield said. “I have to assure them that the teachers have the situation in hand.”

The cameras also help provide an opportunity for parents to discover why their child might be coming home and announcing that they don’t like school.

“I’ve had parents watching the video and pointing out that their son or daughter wasn’t engaging in any activity,” Duffield said. “They suggest to me that the teacher should be interacting with the child to encourage them to choose something. Of course, I expect the teacher will be doing that anyway. But, it’s nice to have a parent point that out so that I can remind a teacher not to overlook a quiet student who may need a little more direction and encouragement.”

AS SIMPLE AS CLICK AND VIEW

A simple click of the mouse gives parents a live view of their child’s classroom without the distraction that their presence in the room would create. To ensure that not just anyone can step up to the monitor and take control, Stone Security set up a unique access code for each parent, teacher and administrator authorized to enter the system.

“The system is very straightforward, but also effective and secure,” Duffield said. “Parents can walk up to our monitoring stations with no experience in professional video systems and the intuitive Milestone software will provide them with easy and secure access to live video of their child’s classroom. They can even take control over the camera angles.”

Especially at the beginning of the school year when separation anxiety tends to spike, parents flock to the monitoring station to observe their children learning, playing, eating and interacting with teachers and fellow students.

“A teacher can tell a parent that their child was fine within five minutes after they left, but when the parent can actually see if for themselves, it gives them a great deal of comfort,” Duffield said.

In addition to observing how well a child is adjusting to the transition from home to school, parents and school administrators are equally interested in educators’ teaching methods. Are pupils actively participating in lessons and activities? Are students playing safely and eating well?

Continuing to prioritize keeping interruptions at a minimum, Duffield said, “What’s great about the Axis and Milestone technology is that they allow us to observe our classroom

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Security Today.

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