Pre-K-12 private school builds powerful new school-wide academic database in FileMaker Pro 8

Individualized education that stresses ethics and service, as well as knowledge -- that is the core philosophy at The Shipley School. Founded in 1894, The Shipley School educates a diverse, serious-minded, well-balanced student body extending from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, on a 36-acre campus in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. The strong emphasis on one-on-one education produces impressive results, with 22 percent of students over the last five years qualifying for National Merit Scholarship recognition. In addition, that emphasis on excellence extends to the technologies that keep the school functioning, including an all-new integrated database system now being developed in FileMaker Pro 8.

Business Challenge

Individualized education requires careful record-keeping at every level, to ensure that each student's file remains up to date. With more than 800 students enrolled, this task has long been a complex challenge at The Shipley School. Previous versions of FileMaker Pro helped organize much of the data, but according to Director of Technology John Zelek, there were still issues to be resolved. "We had many FileMaker Pro databases," he recalls, "most of which were not sharing data. Many of our databases were developed years ago and were not able to share data the way we needed."

Adding to the complexity of the situation, other software was in use in certain departments, including Blackbaud and Winschool, which only served to complicate the process of data entry. Clearly, the situation demanded a centralized, integrated database system.

Successful Solution

Developed with the help of consultant Dan Stein of Digital Software Solutions, The Shipley School's new database system is built from the ground up in FileMaker Pro 8, taking full advantage of the software's powerful development tools and user attributes. So far, Dan and John have completed and implemented modules that track student attendance, demographics, discipline, grades, health, and comments, with an additional 4 or 5 modules slated for completion in the near future. One central user interface accesses the system, with each module represented in its own file containing all the relevant data tables. Additional supporting files contain global and user preferences for the entire system. Over a hundred individual users access the database, most of them school staff.

Customer Benefits

Building the system from scratch in FileMaker Pro 8 allowed John and Dan to take full advantage of the new version's powerful development tools while creating a solution that provides full access to interconnected data. "The ease of development of FileMaker Pro 8 and its true relational structure allows for complex relationships between tables within the data files," John declares. "We couldn't do it without the relational capabilities of FileMaker Pro 8.

The value of FileMaker Pro 8 extends also to the improved end-user experience. Starting from that single user interface, staffers accessing the system are able to perform a wide range of work functions with simple keystrokes. Data is quickly gathered and collated, and reports may be prepared and sent off to the appropriate destinations with greater ease than ever before. "FileMaker Pro 8 offers great new additions to the end user experience," continues John, "like PDF Maker, Tool Tips, and tabs. We currently use the PDF Maker function to simplify the production of reports, and will be using the Excel Maker function to replace our previous tab export system."

As development of the system continues, John and Dan expect to integrate additional FileMaker Pro 8 features, providing a solid foundation for future system expansion. As John concludes, "FileMaker Pro 8 is easy to use, efficient, and powerful enough to allow for the development of a centralized, school-wide academic database."
"FileMaker Pro 8 is easy to use, efficient, and powerful enough to allow for the development of a centralized, school-wide academic database."

John Zelek, Director of Technology, The Shipley School

Contact information

Contact Info for Customer:

John Zelek
Director of Technology
The Shipley School

Daniel Stein
Digital Software Solutions

FileMaker Contact:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.

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