Maquoketa High School Gets a Future Readiness Boost and Administrative Efficiency with Xello
Maquoketa High School counselors Julie Kinrade and Amanda Dewulf are quick to admit that they jumped into the transition from Career Cruising to Xello with both feet—and not a lot of planning.
“We made the choice to do [make the switch] in late October  and we were using it in November ,” said Dewulf.
In hindsight, they’re glad they did it swiftly.
“If you’re hesitant or scared about putting the work into setting up Xello, you should know that it’s doable. We were able to get it set up and have webinars and training very quickly,” said Kinrade.
The counselors immediately began presenting it to students like a hub, not a one-off program.
“We helped students understand that Xello is a place where they can do future readiness lessons, register for classes, document the colleges they’ve applied to, send transcripts. I think they find it useful because they use it for a variety of things,” said Kinrade.
“If kids don’t enjoy a program, they won’t see the value of it or use it. The fact that our students have bought into Xello is a huge plus for us. We have not had students complain about having to do Xello like they had with previous systems.”
Some of the important ways Kinrade and Dewulf are integrating Xello throughout the school, administratively and academically include:
- Tracking college applications and sending transcripts electronically. The counselors are excited to bring this feature to life in the 2020/21 school year.
- Special education. Kinrade is looking at ways Xello can be integrated into IEPs.
- Resources for seniors. Dewulf says another important aspect of Xello is the space where they can put links and resources related to scholarships for seniors.
- A resource for academic classes. Kinrade says she sees the potential for Xello to be an important tool in everything from English to business classes. “A research and technical writing teacher jumped on board with Xello when they realized that their students could find information about careers there. And a business instructor teaching financial literacy could use Xello as a resource for researching careers, the job market and how much money can be made in specific jobs.”
- Reporting and analytics. The counselors have noted that Xello tracks things like which careers and colleges students show the most interest in. “This is a good way to pull data to potentially bring in speakers or schedule field trips or activities within the community that students would value,” said Dewulf. When it comes to colleges, they can make sure the students who demonstrated an interest in Xello are signed up for the right college rep visits.
- Social-emotional learning. At Maquoketa High School, freshmen focus on student success skills, sophomores on self-management, and juniors on careers, as part of their social-emotional curriculum. The counselors plan to dive deeper into the Xello lessons that are appropriate for each grade level.
- Make future readiness part of the school day. Without their own classrooms, counselors often find themselves short on time to provide future readiness learning for students. Xello helps them get straight to the point when they drop in on classes. “It helps us get a lot done in a short amount of time,” said Kinrade. They’re even thinking about training teachers to supervise students as they do Xello lessons during daily study hall classes.
“The juniors in particular do a lot of career research. They got more excited and engaged in Xello than they ever did before in Career Cruising. Doing things like the Matchmaker, personality and learning style quizzes and getting their 10 career matches and related careers really sparked their interest,” said Kinrade.
When the spread of COVID-19 sent students home to learn remotely in March 2020, Maquoketa High School counselors Julie Kinrade and Amanda Dewulf were in the middle of scheduling fall classes for all 500 students and registering 8th graders from neighboring schools.
Fortunately, they had a tool that helped them get that job done remotely—while engaging students in future readiness activities.
“We had to do all registration virtually and it was such a relief knowing that we didn’t have to come up with another solution from scratch,” said Dewulf.
“All the information was already in Xello, so we didn’t have to create a form and go through hundreds of responses. When I think about if we didn’t have this and were doing it by hand somehow… it would be difficult.”
Not wanting to lose momentum when Maquoketa transitioned to virtual learning, Kinrade quickly posted how-to videos in Google Classroom. The videos walked students through completing the course planner for next year and doing other future readiness activities in Xello.
“Some students set up Zoom meetings with us so we could share our screen and go through the Course Planner with them and talk it through,” said Dewulf.
The counselors managed to register everyone for the following school year in the same timeline they would have had everyone been attending classes in person.
In the process, Kinrade and Dewulf created opportunities to hold individual Zoom meetings with parents and students to go over course selections and their original four-year plans. With everyone logged into a student’s Xello account, they were able to have meaningful discussions about the short- and long-term future of individual students.
“It was great for parents to see which classes their child had planned, and we were able to update and change things too,” said Kinrade.
Dewulf says this communication with parents allowed them to share more information than the usual newsletters they used when school was in session, facilitating meaningful family discussions.
“Parents were definitely been able to see the value of Xello firsthand in a way that they probably wouldn’t have if the school wasn’t closed. I could see us offering a webinar-type Zoom session on Xello in the fall. It’s one-stop shopping for future planning.”
The Maquoketa High School counselors are encouraged by the way they can pivot to remote future readiness and administrative functioning. Xello helps them get the job done in new and efficient ways.
That was Maquoketa High School’s success story—now it’s time to write yours. Learn how Xello can help students at your district get college and career ready. Book My Demo