Principal Sazo

“What we enjoy here is just the whole idea of being able to take advantage of everything that’s good about San Francisco, being right here in the middle of the city,” beams Mario Sazo, Dean of Students at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. “You’re close to the arts, you’re close to the ballet, we’ve got all of these relationships that go on throughout the city.”

It’s impossible to deny the magic of Sacred Heart’s setting. Perched atop Cathedral Hill, the campus seems to have all of San Francisco under its purview—from awe-inspiring urban cityscapes out of every window, to the 5.6 acre Jefferson Square Park, which sprawls downhill and to the southwest.

Sacred Hearts Pennants

Founded in 1852, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory is a diverse urban school with a rich history, and Mr. Sazo has been at its helm for over 16 years. As you might expect from someone with his impressive tenure, Sazo seems to possess a slightly superhuman amount of energy. Positive and quick-witted, his banter with students is self-assured, at times self-depricating, and always met with smiles and laughter from the kids.

For as many negative interactions that I could possibly have in this job, I try to make it a point to make sure I have more positive interactions than anything else because… I think that kind of helps in a small way building the community that we have.

Happy With PlascoTrac, Happier With Hero

Sacred Heart was successful with PlascoTrac. By integrating their discipline system with PowerSchool through PlascoTrac, they built successful programs to check kids into school, track behaviors during the day, and save administrative time not having to manually input behavioral occurrences into their SIS.

PlascoTrac helped Mario automate Sacred Heart’s discipline programs, but it was tied to one room. Their mobile devices offered some mobility, but for only a few people. As a cloud based solution, Hero offered the potential to take their programs into the classroom, the hallways, and anywhere there is a staff member—while still talking to PowerSchool and doing all of the other things that made PlascoTrac successful at the school.

I got a lot more backing when we went from PlascoTrac to Hero, because even the tech director was asking, “When are they going to go to the cloud?”

With no updates to install, the ability to function from a browser in any computer in the school, and mobile apps for iOS and Android, an upgrade to Hero was much more than a design improvement and some catchy “cloud app” jargon—it allowed them to expand throughout the school.

We’re a big school, and we pride ourselves in being able to track where our kids are at every period.

With 1,300 students and a deceptively large campus—in San Francisco, buildings expand skyward out of necessity—Hero gives Mario and his team the power to track behaviors where they happen. And anywhere he is, he can check up on a student in Hero.

I always joke with the school president about that—between Hero and PowerSchool, I’ve got the whole school in my pocket.

Free to Innvoate

The day we visit Sacred Heart, they’re having a blood drive. “The blood drive used to be a big fiasco for us attendance-wise,” Mario explains.

Not anymore. No computer on a cart to wheel in. The secretary simply shows up with a laptop, checks kids in and out, prints out dress passes for the kids that donate blood, and gets them back off to class. “It’s all one-stop shopping at that point.”

Blood Drive at Sacred Heart

The blood drive is a great way to get kids engaged for a good cause, and it illustrates the flexibility that Hero provides the team at Sacred Heart. With a system that can be anywhere, they can track any program, and reward (or assign consequences to) kids anywhere in the school. More staff are engaged, and more positive programs are possible than ever before.

Another new program that Sacred Heart has been able to try with Hero was a wellness program. Knowing that he wanted a way to encourage students to take advantage of Sacred Heart’s outstanding fitness center, Mario worked with Hero’s support team to set up a program that keeps track of which students are using the fitness center, and for how long. Looking at the data for this school year, Mario boasts that there are only 5 students that haven’t checked in to the fitness center.

A New Way of Doing Things

I tell everybody, we’ve got these capabilities, don’t be afraid to bring your ideas to the table.

The switch from PlascoTrac to Hero has been about more than mobility, and even adoption. These things are important, and Mario is excited to start getting Hero into the classroom for school-wide initiatives, but there’s a shift more fundamental happening at Sacred Heart—one with the potential for tremendous impact.

With Hero, Mario and his team have the freedom to be creative in how they design and deploy new programs like the blood drive and the wellness program whenever they want. In short, they have the opportunity think big. And that means more positive interactions with students, more opportunities to modify behavior—more time spent on things that matter.

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