Celebrating educators who’ve inspired us

“A teacher affects eternity,” said the American historian Henry Adams, meaning that it’s impossible to tell when an educator’s influence stops — if it ever really does.

Inspired2Educate, a new national recognition program recently launched by PeopleAdmin, illustrates this perfectly.

We’re asking current educators like you one question, Who inspired you to make education your life’s work? Is there someone who stands out? A favorite teacher or professor? A guidance counselor or principal? My guess is there’s somebody who inspired you to not only become your best, but who also ignited in you a passion to educate.

If so, we want to hear your story.

Inspired2Educate encourages current education professionals at all schools — from public to private — and at all grades levels — from kindergarten to doctoral programs — to nominate via video or in writing an educator who inspired them. Each month, PeopleAdmin will award one person with a $1,000 scholarship for their own professional development, as well as $1,000 for their educational institution to use however it sees fit.

If an educator has touched your life and helped you become the educator you are today, I urge you to visit Inspired2Educate. Tell us your story. Together, let’s keep the inspiration alive and celebrate those educators who build a better future, each and every day.

Spotlight: Pasadena Independent School District

‘Pasadena ISD encourages growth and potential. The district as a whole is on the cutting edge.’

Pasadena Independent School District (ISD) spent 2015 unlike many other U.S. schools — rather than struggling to attract teachers, the large suburban district outside of Houston, Texas, attracted more job applicants than ever and earned recognition from the Houston Chronicle as one of the “Top 150 Workplaces.”

The school district’s secret? A culture that encourages teachers and students.

“Our success is due in no small part to the wonderful employees we have in our district. They have helped us build a culture of deep respect, mutual support and common vision,” said Dr. DeeAnn Powell, superintendent of schools. “They have created an amazing teaching and learning environment that challenges, motivates and encourages our students to achieve their dreams.”

From the top down, Pasadena ISD realizes that building an ideal school culture means having the right employees, which begins with attracting and identifying the right candidates.

“Internal and external applicants say that finding jobs, creating accounts, applying for multiple positions and getting email updates when new positions come open all made the application process positive for them,” said Keith Palmer, associate superintendent for HR at Pasadena ISD. The district uses TalentEd Recruit & Hire and notes that applications spiked — surpassing 81,000 — after implementing the solution on Feb. 1, 2015. “We have a lot more applicants than we did with the old system, which shows that applicants are better able to find us.”

Once hired, the district also focuses on keeping the right employees on board.

“We want to continue to attract, recruit and retain high-quality staff,” Keith said. “That’s true for everyone from teachers to administrators to bus drivers to cafeteria workers. To do that, our goal is to make sure we have competitive salaries and benefit packages and good working environments that continue to show positive employee feedback.”

District employees have taken note of the extra effort to keep them happy. In a Houston Chronicle survey response, one employee wrote, “Pasadena ISD encourages growth and potential. The district as a whole is on the cutting edge and strives to stay on top of technology and other educational values.”

That’s just one response from the nearly 5,000 employee surveys voluntarily submitted for the “Top 150 Workplaces” recognition, which clearly demonstrates that Pasadena ISD employees are passionate about their district … and sure to attract even more talented candidates.

Recent Pasadena ISD accolades

  • One of ‘Top 150 workplaces’ in Houston, Houston Chronicle, 2015
  • Meritorious Budget Award, Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), 2015
  • Topped Texas state graduation rate, second consecutive year – nearly 90% of graduating class received diplomas, 2014
  • Pasadena Memorial and Rayburn High Schools: Best High Schools in America, U.S News and World Report, Bronze category, 2014
  • Keller Middle School – National School to Watch, 2014


“TalentEd programs have made our personnel office more efficient. We have increased our candidate pool for jobs by using Recruit & Hire and we are now streamlining employee paperwork and personnel records by using Records. TalentEd employees have been helpful every step of the way as we convert from paper to an electronic system.”

— Ellie Egner, Personnel at McCracken Schools


“PeopleAdmin has been phenomenal in assisting us with overcoming the implementation of products and services for our department and also by giving us great tools and materials to assist our employees in the implementation of these systems.”

— Lisa Wooden, Secretary to the Executive Director of
Personnel Services at Sheldon ISD

“We are huge supporters of SchoolSpring, not just because of the success we have had using its many and varied features, but because of the fabulous attention, support and service consistently provided by our friends at PeopleAdmin.”

New SearchSoft and SchoolSpring integration creates largest candidate pool in the U.S.

Fill your 2016 candidate pipeline by reaching more teachers than ever before

Focused on our commitment to help schools fill positions with the right people at the right time, and on our promise to deliver an Amazing Customer Experience, PeopleAdmin recently combined our two market-leading educator job sites — SearchSoft and SchoolSpring — to give customers access to the country’s largest pool of K-12 candidates.

Integrating platforms provides additional stability and allows us to accelerate our ability to get innovative, best-in-class recruiting and talent management solutions to our customers,” said Chris Berry, senior vice president and chief technology officer for PeopleAdmin. “We’re excited to deliver this integration because we know reaching a larger candidate pool is especially important during the teacher shortage many customers are facing.”

The SchoolSpring integration is now available to all TalentEd and SearchSoft customers, and some early adopters have already experienced the power of casting a wider recruiting net.

“We have been able to track and identify an increase in application traffic since adding SchoolSpring to our recruiting effort,” said Shaun Holmes, Ed.D director of certified employee relations and staffing for Scottsdale Unified School District (USD) in Arizona. Scottsdale USD added the SchoolSpring integration to its applicant tracking system (ATS) last year. “I received an acceptance for a science teaching position from a candidate that contacted me after I directly recruited him using SchoolSpring. Science teachers are not easy to find, especially in December.”

In addition to empowering recruiting during non-peak seasons, the integration has also helped even the largest districts meet their goals.

“We’ve accessed several online job boards to fill hundreds of teaching vacancies,” said Meg Nigro, executive director of recruitment and development at Clark County School District, the fifth-largest district in the U.S. “SchoolSpring is one of the few job boards we still use because of the success we’ve had finding high-quality candidates and how easy and appealing the platform is for posting jobs and resume mining. With SchoolSpring, the days of static boards with the ‘post and pray’ mentality are gone.”

And because the integrated products are part of the PeopleAdmin family of solutions, they come with the world-class service customers expect.

“We are huge supporters of SchoolSpring, not just because of the success we have had using its many and varied features, but because of the fabulous attention, support and service consistently provided by our friends at PeopleAdmin,” Meg said. “They are truly our partners.”

Learn more

Elaine Howard

“I think that sometimes, as a customer, we assume just because the implementation’s done that somehow we have become the expert. As a customer, don’t hesitate to ask when you need help.”

PeopleAdmin … at your service.

Tips to help you take advantage of our partnership together

Our top priority is to deliver an amazing customer experience … which also means making it as easy as possible for you to work and partner with us.

We asked longtime customer Elaine Howard, chief human resources officer at Hays Consolidated Independent School District, based in Kyle, Texas, to talk about the customer relationship and ways customers can get the most from their PeopleAdmin partnership.

PeopleAdmin: We are always striving to improve our customers’ experience with PeopleAdmin. Knowing that, what are some ways that customers can work best with us?

Elaine: Definitely do your homework. I think that’s probably the most important thing: Get educated before you make that phone call or before you enter that conversation. One of the things you first asked us is, How may we serve you? And as a good customer, I have a responsibility to go into that conversation with at least this concept or idea of what we need.

And I think what really makes this key is that you need to be realistic.

PeopleAdmin: For instance?

Elaine: When I talk to you about my needs, I try to be very upfront. For example, I might say, this budget year I only have $7,000 to work with. The next budget year I’m going to have $15,000 to work with. So, realistically, that’s how much money we have. And then, I state my needs. But I try to be respectful of your needs — timing and resources — as well.

PeopleAdmin: Speaking of “timing”… That’s a really important issue when a customer needs to get a solution implemented and up and running. How can our customers best deal with time constraints?

Elaine: Timelines, in my mind, are put in place so that both sides know when and how they’ll be accountable along the way. Did we do what we said we were going to do? If we told you we were going to have all of our staffing lists, all of the email addresses, all of the reporting that we needed and we dropped the ball, how can we say we’re up against a timeline and you aren’t meeting it? Again, being realistic helps this challenge.

PeopleAdmin: Is there anything else that our customers should be aware of that could make their experience working with us a little bit better?

Elaine: I think that sometimes, as a customer, we assume just because the implementation’s done that somehow we have become the expert. As a customer, don’t hesitate to ask when you need help. It’s okay for us to call you up and say, “Hey, where am I going now? What should I expect down the road?”

We become our worst enemy, I think, when we don’t stay connected. If we find issues, or something that could be better, we need to keep reaching out and let you know, so that you have that feedback.

PeopleAdmin: Any final thoughts?

Elaine: Do you know what I love about you all? You’re really good about giving feedback in the way that makes us feel like we’re growing and learning. You’re making us feel like great customers. And I think that’s greatly appreciated.

Enhancements to user groups and customer support net positive results in 2015

PeopleAdmin User Groups are back in 2016 and better than ever!

We’re building on the feedback and improvements you helped design last year — including a focus on topics that are most relevant in your area, more networking opportunities, and sneak peeks at upcoming product enhancements. We’re also making it more convenient for customers to attend User Groups by increasing the number of events — so you can share best practices, network with peers and learn about your solution closer to home.

Save the date for one of our upcoming User Groups and stay tuned to Connections for additional dates and locations coming later this year.

View upcoming user groups

Reader feedback: Community tips and updates

“I would love it if the newsletter noted the different updates/releases.”

At PeopleAdmin, we welcome your comments, feedback and requests because it helps us identify opportunities to serve you better. After reading a past newsletter, one customer emailed:

“I love getting a newsletter because I don’t have time to visit the Community site. I would love it if the newsletter noted the different updates/releases that were made because I never get notified otherwise and I know I am missing out on pertinent information because of it. It would also be nice if the newsletter had tips or notices about the Community.”

You can learn about monthly product updates by joining your product user group and setting up email notifications in the Community, PeopleAdmin’s customer portal.

“Joining a Community user group and turning on email notifications will ensure you’re always aware of the latest product information,” said Courtney Langdon, community manager. “For many K-12 customers, I recommend joining the TalentEd user group or SchoolSpring user group to receive product updates and announcements. Also, the TalentEd regional user groups are managed by our State Success Advisors and have regular updates about form changes pertinent to your region.”

To join a user group, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the Community
  2. Click on the “User Group” tab
  3. On the left, under your picture and name, click “Groups”
  4. Next, click “Active Groups” on the left
    • If you know the name of the group you want to join, type it in the “Type a Group Name” box and allow the page to refresh
    • If you don’t know the name of the group, scroll through the list to browse existing groups. There are industry groups, regional groups, product groups and company groups, i.e., K-12, TalentEd Texas Customers, TalentEd and PeopleAdmin
  5. Once you have found the group you wish to join, click “Join” under the Membership column. Note: Groups that say “Request to Join” instead of “Join” are private groups that require approval from the administrator. Guidelines for acceptance into a private group are listed in the group description

Next, set your email preferences to get notified of new posts:

  1. Click your name on the top right of the page
  2. Select “My Settings”
  3.  Click “Email Notifications”
  4. Scroll down to the Groups section, and select your preferred email frequency
  5. Click save

By following these steps, you’ll opt-in to email notifications from the groups that matter most to you, and ensure you don’t miss a product update, release notice or other pertinent information.

Have ideas for more ways we can improve our service to you? Email them to

Preparing for ESSA: Q&A with Lisa Andrejko, Ed.D., former superintendent, principal, teacher

“Hopefully, we’re going back to doing what’s best for students and teachers.”

Lisa Andrejko

Lisa Andrejko

Dr. Lisa Andrejko is a former superintendent of the nationally recognized Quakertown Community Schools in Pennsylvania, past president of the Urban Superintendents Association of America, and has served on various prestigious K-12 boards. Recently, she’s immersed herself in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — which was passed in December — to educate school leaders on the new law and how it will affect their work with teachers.

Q: What’s the most important thing to know right now about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)?
“Right now, the thing to keep in mind is that ESSA’s not going to take effect until next year and the biggest change is that the federal government’s role and oversite in K-12 education is greatly diminished. That means, hopefully, we’re going back to doing what’s best for students and teachers, not policymakers.”

Q: How do you think ESSA will affect students and teachers?
“ESSA gives states the opportunity to develop or revise their accountability systems for schools and teachers. States no longer have a financial incentive to follow a federal plan, as was prescribed in Race to the Top. For instance, schools will have three choices for teacher evaluations in the 2016-17 school year: stay the course, go back to what they had before Race to the Top, or adopt a less stringent, more agile model. In my opinion, good school districts, teachers associations and others should spend the next year researching and advocating for flexible evaluation systems that will help improve teaching and learning with less emphasis on prescribed, one-size-fits-all models.”

Q: What evaluation system is best?
“The answer to that is a three-credit grad course! But if I had to sum it up, I’d say a system which uses multiple sources of data to evaluate teachers. That means including teacher observations, looking at teacher work, artifact portfolios, student achievement, interviews with teachers, interviews with students — putting multiple pieces of information together to make a robust, big-picture view of what the teacher is doing and how effective it is. Principals need to be less concerned with checking off or rating components observed and work in a collaborative process with teachers, taking a greater role in guiding teacher self-reflection using the data. States need to be more focused on using student test data to drive conversation and professional development, not ranking and reprimanding.”

Q: What actions do you recommend schools take to prepare for ESSA implementation?
“Sit back and wait to see what’s coming from your state’s Department of Education. You don’t want to get too far ahead of what’s changing. Better yet, get involved. I’d also begin taking inventory at my school of what we have now, what is working and what is not — preparing the input I can give to my Department of Education. My prediction is that every state is going to look at the student data piece and how to make it more valid and reliable as testing is still required in ESSA. Imagine a system that is about impacting teaching and learning in a meaningful way, not one that collects and collates data just for the sake of reporting it!”

For more information about ESSA, read Lisa’s blogs: How the Every Student Succeeds Act Will Impact Educators and Education as We Know It and ESSA: Are You Prepared for a Change in the Way You Evaluate Teachers?

People of PeopleAdmin:
Craig Hughey, Director, Product Management

Since he joined PeopleAdmin two years ago, Craig Hughey, director, product management, has partnered with hundreds of customers to identify and resolve some of education’s toughest HR-related challenges.

Craig’s passionate about aggressively expanding PeopleAdmin’s solutions to meet your needs…

What is product management? “Product management’s main focus is to understand market problems, such as what business challenges do our customers encounter on a daily basis? How can our solutions and our industry expertise help them effectively overcome them?

“Product management also demonstrates the strategic value of our solutions to educators. Our work is about more than making an HR process more efficient. We help the organization meet strategic objectives through hiring and managing the right people.”

What do you love about your job? “In Product Management, there’s always someone you need to be talking to. Current or potential customers, customer success team members, sales representatives — all kinds of different people can provide an insight or idea you haven’t thought of or a perspective you haven’t considered. I love interacting with a lot of people to come up with a new solution. Nothing good happens in a vacuum.”

Describe our products in three words? “Flexible, configurable, strategic.”

Last month PeopleAdmin announced a new goal to deliver an Amazing Customer Experience. What does that mean to you? “Providing a great customer experience starts with providing customers with a product that is easy to purchase, easy to implement and easy to use. Part of the value we bring to our customers is the continuous improvements we make to the software. I think most customers would be surprised to know how many times a month we update the software, but that’s how we contribute to an Amazing Customer Experience.”

Will you share an interesting project you’ve worked on lately? “We recently partnered with two large K-12 districts on a project to provide a new set of recruiting tools around career fairs. Any time we have the opportunity to work with customers directly in the development process, the quality of the outcome improves.”

How can customers get the most out of their partnership with us? “We’re always interested in learning more about what problems customers are trying to solve using our software. The best customer partners are the ones whose businesses we learn more about. It’s more than just talking about a specific feature, it’s figuring out what problem the customer is really trying to overcome and why.”