Dancing Moose Montessori School advances education with Milestone

Dancing Moose Montessori School advances education with Milestone

Dancing Moose Montessori School in Salt Lake City, Utah, developed a unique way to increase parents' participation in their child's schooling, improve teacher evaluations without disturbing class, and expand overall school security. Milestone XProtect Express video management software (VMS) and network cameras from Axis Communications oversee daily operations at Dancing Moose to deliver a high degree of security and provide parents with a window into their child's learning.

“The Axis-Milestone solution has become a huge selling point for our 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 happy and engaged in the classroom. It's really powerful.” Jennifer Duffield, Executive Director, The Dancing Moose Montessori School.

The challenge:
Dancing Moose Montessori School opened its doors with a promise to parents and students to provide unmatched learning experience with programs that are unique, learning environments that are professional and safe, and processes that are transparent. Safety was a key consideration, but to stay true to its promise of transparency, the school needed a security system th at was robust and effective while also allowing parents to remotely monitor their children without interrupting class.

The solution:
Milestone XProtect Express IP video management software (VMS), 40 Axis network cameras and a pair of 42-inch monitors comprise the monitoring system that allows parents and school administrators to observe students and teachers without interfering in classroom activities. The monitors are in the lobby, the cameras are set up throughout the school and the system is custom integrated with S2 Extreme access control — thanks to the Milestone open platform architecture.

The advantages:
With the simple click of a mouse, parents have live access to their child's classroom without the distraction that their presence in the room would create. They can quickly and easily observe how their child learns and interacts with classmates and teachers. For administrators, the ability to monitor classrooms remotely means that teacher evaluations are no longer a distraction to students or the teacher. The integration of the video system with access control provides efficient management of safety matters in the school.

A Total Learning Experience
Founded by President Joyce Sibbett, Ph. D., Dancing Moose Montessori School of West Valley City, Utah, focuses on the total learning experience, providing engaging activities and specialized programs tailored to each class. A key feature of Dancing Moose Montessori School is the learning environment with bright and airy designs in multiple zones, including open spaces full of greenery, a large gym and a specialized outdoor program. Each school is newly built from the ground up, typically measuring 20,000 square feet, hosting 200 students in 12 classrooms with two teachers assigned to each room.

Peace of mind for parents, students, teachers and staff was a priority, and the state-of-the-art, integrated monitoring and security system goes a long way toward providing just that. The system, installed by Stone Security of Salt Lake City, is networked through Milestone XProtect Express VMS and includes a variety of Axis network cameras and an S2 Extreme audio/visual access control system. The solution also includes a 4U BCD Video tower server powered by HP, Netgear 24-port POE switches and a DMP intrusion system.

Visitors, parents, staff, and teachers use unique access codes to enter the system, but only after verbal and visual confirmation. Once inside the facility, parents have permissions-based virtual access to the preschool, with views of authorized classrooms and outdoor areas. The Milestone XProtect Smart Client interface allows multiple parents to view different images on the monitors simultaneously – the system is configured for as many as six camera feeds to be displayed on each screen.

“The Milestone interface is very straightforward but also effective and secure. Parents can walk up to our monitoring stations with no experience in professional video systems and the intuitive Milestone software provides easy and secure access to live video of their child's classroom — including control over camera angles. Our parents typically flock to the monitoring station where they can observe their children learning, playing, eating, and interacting with teachers and fellow students,” says Jennifer Duffield, Executive Director, Dancing Moose Montessori School.

“The IP-based Milestone system paired with Axis network cameras is easy to use and provides clear, high-resolution images to both managers and parents at Dancing Moose Montessori School,” explains Andy Schreyer, Stone Security. “Additionally, because Milestone and Axis operate on an open platform system, we are able to provide our client with the flexibility to grow the system to future schools and add new integrations over time, creating equity in the system. Milestone keeps up as Axis releases new cameras with updated features, eliminating the need for system replacement because it never becomes obsolete.”

Every child in view
Stone Security carefully selected cameras that would provide the most comprehensive viewing options for parents. At the school's original location, opened in 2007, Stone Security installed pan/tilt/zoom AXIS 212 PTZ-V Network Cameras inside the classrooms to offer instant pan/tilt/zoom functionality. When Dancing Moose opened a second location in 2014, Stone Security chose either wide-angle, 3 megapixel AXIS M3006-V or panoramic, 5 megapixel AXIS M3007-PV Fixed Dome Network Cameras to provide complete views of each room.

For external security afterhours, Stone Security installed HDTV-quality 720p AXIS P3364-VE Fixed Dome Network Cameras outside the building. The cameras' Lightfinder technology is ideal for low-light visibility. The exterior cameras are set to record on motion, and they can be viewed on Duffield's office computer.

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

Effective Learning Through Observation
Two 42-inch NEC monitors are installed in the lobby of Dancing Moose Montessori School, where parents can see their child at any point throughout the day without being a distraction in the classroom, which could cause their child to act differently.

“Parents can be interested in seeing what the teacher is teaching, if their child is engaged in the lesson, or how well the student is eating at lunchtime,” says Jennifer Duffield, executive director, Dancing Moose Montessori School. “The Milestone interface and Axis cameras make our parents comfortable and offer reassurance and a sense of security.”

Parents and school administrators are equally interested in educators' teaching methods, whether or not the pupils are actively participating in the lesson and activities, and verifying that students are playing safely and eating well.

“It's nice to be able to pull a classroom image up on the screen to keep track of the teachers' lessons, or to see if students are behaving well or getting out of hand,” continues Duffield. “What's great is that the Milestone and Axis technology allows us to observe classrooms without disturbing the lesson flow, and we see the true, unvarnished behavior of our students during their normal interactions with teachers.”

According to Duffield, the Milestone XProtect Express and Axis network camera solution has surpassed her expectations. As she explains it, parents have had little, if any, exposure to operating an advanced video monitoring system, but with just the click of a mouse, they have a high-resolution view of their children in classrooms and outdoor environments.

“At the start of the school year, parents flocked to the monitors and were amazed at the ability to retain an active role in their child's day without distracting them during school hours,” she says. “As the school year progresses, the monitoring stations average about 10 users in the morning and 10 during lunch. We are proud to offer Milestone's interface to the families of our pupils and are thrilled with its positive effect on our program.”

For Schreyer of Stone Security, the Dancing Moose Montessori School installation is an outstanding example of the versatility of the Milestone software: “The flexibility of the Milestone open platform with Axis allows our techs to be experts regardless of client vertical. We are able to choose the perfect solutions for our customers and integrate every important service needed for each installation. Dancing Moose Montessori School has access control technology integrated with the Milestone video for the ability to safely monitor students at all times.”

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