How We Transformed One K-12 School into a Tech-Driven, Modern Learning Safe Haven
How We Transformed One K-12 School into a Tech-Driven, Modern Learning Safe Haven
After 48 years of educating K-12 students, Maranatha Christian Academy had outgrown its facilities and was ready for a fresh new campus. Building a school is not the same as it used to be. A school’s ability to keep pace with rapidly changing technology and security is key to ensuring a safe, healthy, and successful learning environment.
Students today deserve to feel safe in their classrooms and have the tools they need to succeed in the modern world.
Smart Pro Technologies was hired to help Maranatha Academy achieve their most important goals: create a safe environment for their students, install top-tier academic technology, and future-proof the entire build to stay up-to-date for years (or even decades) to come.
Starting from the ground up.
Maranatha had both the privilege and the challenge of building their technology and security systems from the ground up. Smart Pro was able to come alongside faculty and contractors to help determine priorities and navigate options when the only thing to look at was a blueprint.
Getting in on the ground level allowed us to have full visibility over all the low voltage aspects of the build. From the get-go, we were able to plan, design, and budget for equipment and technology that would work seamlessly together.
There were two primary portions to the Maranatha project: security and IT. The convenience of Smart Pro Technologies is that we can handle both security systems and low voltage IT systems on two separate teams while simultaneously working together.
Our Security Team got to work mapping out surveillance systems, door access control, alarms and monitored security.
Our Technology Team started planning a sophisticated gymnasium AV system and high-tech classrooms that allow for in-class and remote learning opportunities that would have been unthinkable not long ago.
Working together meant that our teams were able to plan layouts, source equipment, and prepare for installation, seamlessly. All technology was guaranteed to work together, there was no doubling back or having to check in with multiple vendors and contractors to make sure our plans wouldn’t impede on anyone else’s.
Keeping things in house means retaining high quality services and minimizing risks of wasted time or resources.
Once design plans were in place and approved by contractors and school faculty, the build was able to begin. Once again, operating as two entities on the same team, we were able to maximize efficiencies and speed, all while staying within the original budget.
Our build phase operated smoothly because we had put in the planning work. Instead of trying to execute off of someone else’s plans, we had the ability to bring to life the plan we were trusted to create.
The purpose of our technology and security is to perform at the highest level without
standing out. Once all the cables are run, projects and sound systems installed, and security is operating in full swing, it all becomes about the student’s experience.
Instead of noticing big flashy speaker systems or obvious surveillance cameras, students are able to easily move through their classroom experience with the confidence that everything simply works the way it’s supposed to.
Three-Prong Security System Built to Last
Maranatha students, teachers, and staff are fully protected by an intuitive 3-prong security system our team designed for peace of mind.
Beginning with general surveillance, we installed Exacq cameras with a heavy emphasis on entry points. The majority of the school property inside and out is covered by at least one camera angle so that all suspicious activity can be quickly detected and handled.
These are not your average home security cameras. Exacq uses powerful AI technology complete with facial detection, audio monitoring, and some of the highest-quality picture on the market. Cameras are reliable, secure, and able to record and store footage for later review.
Access control by Kantech Systems gives Maranatha an extra layer of safety by cracking down on who can gain access to the school building. This system makes life easy for those who are allowed onto campus by eliminating the need for traditional keys and ensures that people who are not allowed on campus cannot get in.
Kantech also gives the school the ability to track and review every person who enters or exits campus.
Finally, intrusion alert by DSC Systems allows Maranatha to handle any emergencies swiftly. If alarms are triggered, police are immediately notified and the school can execute its security plans in an instant.
The key to this 3-prong system is in the integration. We were able to install all aspects of Maranatha’s security using different tech brands while uniting them all under one simple control umbrella. All of these systems are accessed and controlled in one simple and secure control panel so that staff never has to worry about learning the nuances of multiple devices or softwares.
Educational technology ahead of the curve.
It’s difficult to keep up with technology in the classroom. Bringing laptops, tablets, and other smart devices into the classroom means having to increase internet speeds and buttoning up cybersecurity.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we also need to prepare for in-class learning, remote virtual learning, and hybrid models.
Smart Pro was able to design all of Maranatha’s educational technology with these goals and constraints in mind.
Our first solution was to bring high-speed fiber Internet to every single classroom.
Maranatha is now one of the first schools in the area to tout 10G speeds in every classroom because Smart Pro is one of the only integrators in the area certified for this type of project.
Implementing fiber to the edge also allowed us to consolidate our IT closets down to one. Whereas many schools would need multiple IT closets to accommodate servers and equipment, Maranatha does not. They were actually able to increase the size of their classrooms due to how much space we were able to save!
Each classroom is fully equipped with Microsoft Teams to allow for remote or hybrid classrooms. Microsoft Teams opens up opportunities for students to collaborate and feel like they’re in the room, even if they’re far away.
It was important for Maranatha to have an integrated gym audio/video system that would accomplish an AV experience for live events, athletics, and weekly chapel. The system we installed consisted of two high lumen laser projects, 12 speaker/sub woofer combo sound systems, and an integrated audio mixing solution with wireless microphones and instrument inputs. The entire system is controlled by a QSYS Core Digital Signal Processor that allows staff or students to control tuning, acoustics, and audio/video sources from a single place.
Future-proofing for future generations.
The lifespan of most tech is wildly short. Many companies release new software and hardware every year, making it difficult for schools to keep up. Knowing this, we were able to prepare Maranatha to easily integrate more equipment down the road with minimal effort and cost.
The key to future-proofing is in the combination of smart data cabling and maintenance. We were able to spend a minimal amount of time and budget to add extra cabling, outlets, and other access points so that Maranatha could continue to increase its tech for the next decade without making any significant cabling changes.
We were also able to include IT management and maintenance services so that we can ensure all hardware and software remains updated, clean, and fully functioning year in and year out.
One of the biggest detriments to school technology is the failure to keep it updated. If your tech is not maintained, it does not take long before vulnerabilities and inefficiencies start to happen.
Our Maintenance + Plan
Delivering on timelines and budget as promised.
Working on a project like Maranatha from the ground up is a large responsibility that we don’t take lightly. Similar to working with a contractor, we were able to shoulder all of the responsibilities from research to planning to sourcing materials and executing on the project. Any challenges we came across were ours to figure out, and in the end, we were able to deliver on time and budget without any major changes to the contract.
If you have a design/build project coming up and are looking for a security and/or IT partner to work with, we would love to hear from you. Contact us through our website or give us a call at (913) 228-1334.