Inspiration

The California legislature is currently looking at a bill, AB 6, which would create a separate branch for early childhood education within the state's Department of Education. This would allow more resources to be allocated to early childhood development, PreK-K, for all kids, regardless of income. Additionally, California is looking to secure free preschool for all children, and possibly expanding Kindergarten to a full-day teaching schedule, instead of half-days. This would vastly expand access for rural and low-income children to access school instruction, decreasing the opportunity gap for children. Our app would allow parents to filter through the teachers in their regions so that they have access to the best E.S.L. (English as a Second Language) and Special Education teachers in their areas.

Also, California Senate Bill 217 seeks to establish a new form of preschool for 4-year-old children with special needs known as Transitional Kindergarten. This would allow children to have more support during critical steps in their development, to ensure that they can successfully meet milestones in learning as they move on to Kindergarten and beyond.

Furthermore, the 2020 presidential election cycle saw many candidates advocating for universal preschool and childcare, which would allow for countless families to gain educational access for their children. Parents would have greater access to educational programs that cater to students who are blind, deaf, or hard-of-hearing, in addition to other needs. Parents would be able to connect with other parents to create a supportive community and learn about resources for their children.

We want parents to be able to utilize our app to learn what schools and school districts would offer their children the best education possible. Parents will be able to connect with one another and create a supportive community to learn about other ways in which they can help their children to the best of their ability.

What it does

Reach Teach is an app that connects parents to be the best PreK-5 teachers in their region. Reach Teach allows parents to learn about particular school districts, elementary and preschools, as well as allowing them to leave reviews for the teachers that their students had in the past. The app allows parents to filter the schools in their region to find those that teach particular grades, as well as filtering for teachers with specializations for working in Special Education or E.S.L.

How I built it

We first began our project by drawing out low fidelity wireframes and thinking through our user journey maps to get a thorough understanding of who are users are and how we can best serve them and their needs. We then moved into creating our full-working prototype by using the U.I. framework system, Figma, to develop an interactive app for 'Reach Teach'.

Challenges I ran into

We're unsure of how we would verify each comment that would be made on the platform. We don't want to allow comments to be made freely because we fear that the app would lose value as its comments/reviews would not be reliable. We decided to allow people to freely create accounts; however, not all users would be allowed to leave reviews and comments. We would need parents to submit documentation that they have children attending the school that they claim in order to leave a review for that particular school. Parents would not be able to submit a review for a school that their children do not attend, but they can reply to reviews for schools that their children do not attend. Anyone can use our app without creating an account in order to ensure easy access to information. Although, parents would need verified accounts to leave comments.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We're proud to be part of an event that focuses on empowering women, and bringing women to collaborate with one another in an industry that is not dominated by women. We are also proud that our app can help bring parents together that would not otherwise be able to interact with one another as our app allows parents to focus on the needs of their children, such as Special Education or programs specialized for blind or deaf children. With the implementation of different languages, parents from different backgrounds can obtain the best E.S.L. programs for their kids, regardless of the parents' nationality, race, or educational attainment.

What I learned

We learned about the fact that early childhood education is vastly different than what follows after 5th grade. Some of us learned how to use prototyping and wireframing for the first time. We also used our research skills to learn about current legislation and the impact that it can have on particular communities in California and the greater United States. We all learned how to work well in a team, and how to bring out the best abilities in one another to develop a product that can be used by millions.

What's next for Reach Teach

We need more rounds of user testing and we need to reach out to parents to garner more data. As more legislation is introduced, we'll accommodate to the needs of parents, such as the introduction of Transitional Kindergarten instructors. Due to the time constraint, our team decided to prototype the product during Athenahacks. With more time, we would like to use our front-end and back-end development skills to develop the product that is both web and mobile-friendly. The database would be made using the users' feedback and the front-end would be made using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and React Native.

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