Project Management Software and Small Schools

Feb 25, 2023


Natasha Soderberg, Associate Head at Butler Montessori, is very familiar with the ups and downs of small schools, as she's been in many different roles within Butler Montessori and will be starting as Head of School in July of 2023. Butler Montessori is located in Darnestown, Maryland, and has about 174 students.


We're so excited to have Natasha here to share how her school has used project management to move things forward, and streamline their efforts. It started in development and marketing, but it's kind of spread through all of their various sections. They are now using it for camp, admissions, and facility management. She was showing me her boards and we thought this training would be important to share because it doesn't need to be this perfected execution for project management. It truly just needs to work with your community and meet the needs of your team.

The Why: Everything begins for a reason, and it is important to understand the why behind the decision to do something, and we’re sure there will be many people that resonate with Natasha’s story.

The use of project management tools started with our marketing and development teams. We work with Aubrey and then our other staff member who works in marketing and development lives quite far away, and she's not on campus every day. Our lives are so full of constant pop-ups that become a priority, making it difficult to keep your eye on moving your marketing and development projects forward if they're always falling to the bottom of the priority list. So the idea of trying a project management tool came about. 

We've tried several different software platforms to help us through, and although there was some trial and error, we found it more helpful than our old system of long ongoing notes in Google Docs, or endless email chains, with people searching for the information they need. In addition, we have had several shifts in staffing through the years, so for different people to step into a new role and be able to be up to speed with what is happening and what is going to need to be done, it was much easier to follow along in a project management tool.

We started with Trello, and I'd learned about CanBan boards from other school leaders, and after some experimenting, we landed on Blue. 

They're very responsive to any requests that you make. They're looking for feedback all the time, and it's very similar to CanBan boards, where you can lay out your priorities. It's all online, so you can access it from everywhere. It sends you reminders, which is what I need. You can set deadlines, and tag different team members, and it has an app for the phone, so those staff members that like to use their phones, or are often not close to a computer throughout their days can easily access it as well.

The bottom line is it helps us all come together and collaborate, helps us to stay on track, and keeps us accountable. 

The How: I'm so grateful Natasha is sharing her boards with us because it's so great for small schools to actually see what's happening so they can envision how it could work for their school.

And there are many different ways you can do this. Natasha has multiple teams on these boards, but she started with one board for marketing and development. It’s probably best to pick one team to start with, especially as you are trying out the software, and just add an upcoming deadline. From there you start adding other things as they come up. Once you get a feel for how it works you start to build out the board.

Some teams use their planning sessions and take the school calendar and input all the events and initiatives in a dump format. And as Natasha showed you in the video, it doesn’t need to be all fleshed out. You might just have a title and a date. Then you come back later and fill it in as you go through the steps. Most of these software options have a way to repeat the task: weekly, monthly, annually, etc…so you tweak things as you go and have a refined task list for the next time it comes around.

The important part is to just get started!

To hear more about how Natasha uses Project Management tools at her Small School check out our Small School Solutions {affordable} Annual Professional Development for Small Schools. You will have access to all of the recorded training sessions as well as opportunities to participate in the upcoming ones. 

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