App Connects Teachers, Kids

A new app aims to provide safer communication between teachers and students.

Amanda Fuchs says parents appreciate her app as a new way of safeguarding their kids.
Amanda Fuchs says parents appreciate her app as a new way of safeguarding their kids.
Photo by Andy Foster

How do teachers and coaches stay in contact with students without crossing boundaries? Amanda Fuchs thinks her app is the answer.

“We really provide safer mobile communication between educators and students,” says Fuchs, co-founder of InteractWith, based in Jersey City and Morristown.

The app allows school employees and students to text each other without exchanging phone numbers. Administrators can monitor the messages to resolve disputes and ensure nothing inappropriate is said. Between 15 and 20 New Jersey schools have signed on to use the program.

“We want educators and students to continue the benefits of texting,” Fuchs says. “So for example, in athletics or after-school programs, there needs to be instant communication.” If it rains, for instance, a coach can tell players to head to the gym for practice.

“Kids are texting, that’s their mode of communication,” says Bobby Grauso, athletic director at Hackettstown High School, which is using the app. “If [a coach] weren’t able to do that, that’s going to impact him being able to communicate with the kids.”

Fuchs says her company originally helped small businesses communicate with clients, but switched focus in 2014 when she and her partner, coder/developer Angelo Stracquatanio, realized smartphone communications had become a concern in schools.

Last year, the state Legislature mandated that all districts adopt an electronic communication policy between school employees and students. And this year, teachers at several New Jersey high schools have faced charges or suspensions over alleged improper relationships.

“Unfortunately,” says Fuchs, “there’s been a lot of inappropriate relationships or inappropriate exchanges spurred from unsupervised texting.” Her app, she says, protects students and school employees alike.

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