Meet the Bark for Schools Support Team
Parents love our Bark for Families service, but many people may not know that there’s an entire other half of Bark — our community-focused initiative, Bark for Schools. And they also may not know that it’s entirely free. K-12 public and private schools have access to no-cost monitoring of their school-issued G Suite or Office 365 accounts as well as comprehensive web filtering.
We offer Bark for Schools at no cost as a way to give back to our communities and to help keep children safe. In 2018, after the tragic Parkland shooting, we realized that we had the resources to provide our services to schools in a way that keeps them from spending thousands of dollars each year to protect their students from the worst dangers of the online world.
Led by Chief Customer Officer Ross Paterson, the Bark for Schools Support Team partners with schools and districts to help them navigate our suite and apply it to their student safety solutions. Responsible for communicating and working with schools to onboard and provide support, they also develop guides, conduct webinars, present to new schools, and oversee the Online Safety Center for Excellence program.
To give you an idea of just how dedicated our Bark for Schools Support Team members are, we sat down with our school safety managers and talked about what drives them, the power of our product, and more.
Featured in this interview:
Brian Richards, Director of School Safety
Stacie Atre, School Safety Manager
Renee Abrams, School Safety Manager
What’s something schools may not know about Bark for Schools?
Stacie: Most people don’t know the extent of our team behind the scenes here at Bark, but we have dozens of people committed to protecting kids online. We all breathe a sigh of relief when we find out that a child who just wrote a suicide note is safe. We truly care about kids, their families, their communities, and their schools.
Brian: They may not know that we’re truly passionate about changing the course of student protection. We eat, drink, and breathe Bark for Schools, and we are constantly discussing how we can better protect students across America.
Renee: I think most schools don’t realize we’re more than just a service provider — we are first and foremost advocates for child safety. The Bark for Schools Support Team wakes up each day driven with the same desire as teachers and administrators, and that’s to give students the tools they need to be great.
Tell me about a time you knew you were really making a difference when helping a school.
Stacie: Unfortunately, we find that a lot of schools are missing severe alerts. That’s why we encourage schools to share alerts with parents so that they can work together to keep their communities safe. Just a few weeks back, a child had written a detailed suicide note in a Google Doc. He had written it the day before and I was so worried that no one at the school had viewed it. Once I let them know, they emailed me back and said the student was safe with his family, and they were going to find help for him moving forward. I was so relieved that tears just immediately started running down my face. And this was all before 10 a.m. on a Tuesday!
Brian: When I got my very first call from a school, they told me that they were able to help a student that had been repeatedly cyberbullied (and physically bullied) for a long period of time prior to having Bark. The student had been expressing signs of depression and the school and family couldn’t figure out why — he had good grades, friends, and hobbies. But occasionally, he would type depressive thoughts into a Google Doc and then delete them. Bark shined a light on the situation and the school was able to take action.
Renee: I’m new to the team, but I can already see the real difference Bark for Schools is making in the community. I was recently on a call with a new school, and though they are small and in a rural area, they experienced two suicides last school year. Hearing the administrator talk about the effects of those tragic student deaths and how relieved they were to have Bark help prevent future incidents was an ‘aha’ moment, for sure.
Why are you passionate about school safety?
Stacie: Kids need our help. They have all the same emotions adults have, but with more hormones and not enough life experience to navigate them effectively all the time. They need our help to guide them through their curiosities, fears, joys, and disappointments. Helping keep kids safe online is so important, and Bark alerts can assist schools and families in learning more about their kids — which is crucial to protecting them.
Brian: When I first heard about Bark, I knew I had to be a part of the mission. Because I started over on the Bark for Families side, I saw a concentrated version of what schools were dealing with. This led me to want to help schools better navigate this digital battlefield. Being surrounded by a team of such impassioned individuals has inspired my desire to make the world a better place for students. The Bark for Schools Support Team works tirelessly, communicates conscientiously, and dreams daringly. I can say without reservation that all support team staff treat their role at Bark as a mission, not a job.
Renee: My passion for school safety stems from the belief that all children deserve to learn in an environment where they are safe and loved. As a former school teacher, I understand firsthand the difference having a safe and secure space makes in the lives of our kids.
What is your favorite school-themed movie and why?
Stacie: I love 10 Things I Hate About You because its a fun recreation of Taming of the Shrew. So many good lines!
Brian: It’s got to be The Breakfast Club because it touches on so many areas and stereotypes that still ring true in schools today.
Renee: My favorite school-themed movie is (and will always be) Mean Girls. “On Wednesdays, we wear pink!”
Bark for Schools is a free, fully CIPA-compliant school safety solution that will help you to protect your entire school community. Schools can better understand how we’re able to do what we do by reading our white paper, visiting our website, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Parents can enroll in Family Alerts — also free — to receive alerts when school is not in session, and they can sign up today to monitor their children’s personal accounts with Bark for Families.