Hawkswood Public Schools


Hawkswood Schools

Eastern DataComm helped Hawkswood School replace its former hosted phone system with a state-of-the-art Mitel Unified Communications platform with critical safety features and expert local support – all at no capital expense.


  • Eastern DataComm helped Hawkswood School replace a hosted phone system with a state-of-the-art ShoreTel(Mitel) Unified Communications platform.
  • With knowledge of the latest carrier services and programs, Eastern DataComm enabled Hawkswood to offset monthly costs with the ShoreTel(Mitel) solution while reducing its monthly telecom spend.
  • Seamless implementation provided rapid time-to-value of the ShoreTel(Mitel) platform.
  • Eastern DataComm also leveraged its core expertise in data networking to resolve connectivity problems between the school’s buildings.
  • The system provided much-needed safety functionality, such as group and overhead paging and E911 capabilities.
  • The system’s intuitive interface made it easy for users to take advantage of directory and call-handling features.

Get to Know Hawkswood School

Hawkswood School provides special education services to students ages 3 through 21 who have multiple, complex disabilities. Its developmentally appropriate curriculum includes language, math, science, technology, social studies, art, health, and physical education in alignment with New Jersey standards. The Eatontown, New Jersey, school has served the needs of more than 3,000 children since it opened its doors in 1976.

Hawkswood takes an innovative approach to its use of technology to meet student needs. As such, they sought a partner who could help with voice and data systems that are ancillary to its core focus. The school decided to obtain a hosted phone system through its cable service provider under a five-year contract that included physical hardware, phone lines, and Internet access. After the five years expired, the phone system went back to the service provider unless the school renewed for another 5-year contract.

Over a year’s time, the school tech encountered challenges related to installation, connectivity, crucial outbound calling needs, and even tried troubleshooting with third-party technicians to address issues to no avail. They determined that the time had come to make a change.

That is when Hawkswood called upon the expertise of the Eastern DataComm team.

After analyzing the school’s needs, Eastern DataComm determined that a hosted solution was not the right fit. Instead, they recommended the ShoreTel(Mitel) Unified Communications system, and explained that by switching telecom carriers, the school could take advantage of a program that would offset the cost of the ShoreTel(Mitel) equipment. Eastern DataComm was even able to offer a solution that dramatically reduced the school’s monthly telecom expense.

“The phones were completely paid for and we get to keep them after five years,” said Cody Hochstrasser, IT Technician at Hawkswood School.


Eastern DataComm took the time to listen and thoroughly understand the school’s needs. Then, the team handled end-to-end implementation. Within a short time, the school had a state-of-the-art ShoreTel(Mitel) phone system with all the latest functionality.

“We did a walk around first and Eastern DataComm determined what types of phones we needed. Everything went really smoothly and it didn’t take long,” Hochstrasser said. “Instead of waiting a week for a reply to an email, like we did with the other company, we’d have an actual conversation with Eastern DataComm throughout the day.

“There was never an issue where we had a group of phones that weren’t working. When it came time for installation, we just updated the phones, put them where they needed to be, programmed them into the ShoreTel(Mitel) Director, and everything was up and working.”

Of course, Eastern DataComm’s core expertise is in the data network infrastructure that supports the unified communications system. As a result, the team was also able to resolve the school’s network problems.

“They were able to accurately diagnose some firewall issues that were causing connectivity problems between our two buildings,” said Hochstrasser. “It’s helpful to have a provider who not only knows the phones but the network side as well. I feel like they really know their stuff.”

The ShoreTel(Mitel) system also provides much-needed safety features for the school. In addition to enabling group paging over the ShoreTel(Mitel) phones, the system can connect with overhead paging systems. Lastly, Eastern DataComm implemented an E911 solution so that Hawkswood staff can quickly reach first responders in an emergency.

“We like how the emergency system shows on the receptionist’s console who dialed 911,” Hochstrasser said. “We are also getting speakers in the hallways that can tie into the phone system so that you can hear emergency notifications in the hallways. Eastern DataComm is providing a solution that will work very well for us.”


Hawkswood also appreciates the call-handling features of the ShoreTel(Mitel) platform. Users can easily set up the ShoreTel(Mitel) Communicator software to transfer calls, send them directly to voicemail, or forward them to a mobile phone.

“Our users aren’t very tech savvy but they really like the phones. They feel they’re sleek-looking and easy to use,” said Hochstrasser.

“We like how voice mail can be sent to email with this system. The directory feature on the phones is great as well — you don’t have to have a piece of paper telling you everybody’s extension.”

Although the ShoreTel(Mitel) solution is intuitive, Eastern DataComm provided end-user and administrator training to ensure that Hawkswood gains maximum value from the system.

“They trained the receptionists on how to transfer calls and things like that, and they trained me on how to use the ShoreTel(Mitel) Director software,” Hochstrasser said.

“I really like it. It’s very easy to change where a phone is located, who’s using the phone, and set up voice mail.”

Most of all, Hochstrasser has found the relationship with Eastern DataComm to be extremely beneficial. Rather than getting the runaround, he receives responsive support from a provider who’s in it for the long haul – a true partner.

“The support end is very good,” he said. “Everyone I talk to seems happy to help.”

While cloud-based phone systems can offer benefits, not all hosted solutions are created equal. Hawkswood School learned that the right technology from a collaborative provider is the most important consideration.

“The hosted solution might have worked if we had better support, but I feel like the Eastern DataComm/ShoreTel(Mitel) combo is a great deal,” said Hochstrasser. “They work hand-in-hand very well.”

Resolve Your Communication and Security Challenges with Eastern DataComm

If your district is looking to improve your communication systems like Hawkswood School did, contact Eastern DataComm for a complimentary School Safety Consultation.