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Spotlight: Northampton Community College

May 4, 2020

Feature image of Spotlight: Northampton Community College

Passare customers share their secrets of success through collaboration

Bethlehem, PA

Average Students: 25 a year

For more information, contact Tony Moore at tmoore@northampton.edu.

Running a funeral service education program involves a lot of hard work and a solid curriculum. Tony Moore, Program Director at Northampton Community College, knew he wanted to add a software component to his curriculum that would help students get real-life experience with all aspects of funeral service. When he found Passare, he knew that their innovative approach and willingness to adapt to use in higher education was just what his program needed.

First of all, tell us a little bit about Northampton Community College and your Funeral Service Education degree.
The Funeral Service Education program has been a part of Northampton for nearly 50 years. It’s the only public mortuary program or funeral service education program in Pennsylvania. We draw students from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and even West Virginia. We average about 20-25 students per year, and, for the last several years, we’ve been one of the top schools, based on our board passage rates.

What made you decide to add the Passare software to your curriculum?
When I first got here, the program was a little off track and needed some updates. So, my team and I set three goals. First, we wanted to offer a certified crematory operator program every year. Second, we wanted to graduate students who were licensed in insurance. And lastly, we wanted to include a software component in our curriculum that would give students real-life application and prepare them for exactly what types of forms and tasks they would perform out in the field. That’s where Passare came in. The platform gives us an avenue to provide practical experience to our students before they step into the professional world.

How did you first hear about Passare?
You know, I think I got a postcard in the mail. I was intrigued, so I talked with a Passare representative and asked if it was possible to make some adjustments to the software so we could use it in our education program. They said, “Yeah, we think this is possible.” And now, Northampton is piloting the program. Because we’re a college and not a funeral home, there were adjustments to make, but from day one, everyone was incredibly helpful and ready to make Passare applicable to funeral service education.

How are your students using Passare in the classroom?
They use it for all kinds of things. Embalming reports, funeral director tasks, and creating a general price list, casket price list, and outer burial container price list, to name a few. Our instructors pull up the different forms available in Passare and review them with the students, discussing the form’s specific purpose and function. We have each of our students create mock funeral arrangements, and with Passare, they go through every step that a funeral director does. Plus, because all the information is saved in Passare’s cloud-based system, we can easily print whatever we need for accreditation purposes.

How have your students responded to Passare?
We’ve been using Passare for about four semesters now. The students who did assignments the old way have definitely said that Passare is much easier to use. Before, we used Word documents to do everything, and certain steps could be missed. With Passare, the system won’t let the students move forward until they’ve completed every task. Not only does that ensure they don’t miss anything, it also reminds the students every time what the process looks like. That way, if they do work for a funeral home that doesn’t use Passare, they still have the process ingrained in their minds.

How do you see Passare helping more of your students in their future careers?
Several of my graduates have told me that their new employers have now switched to Passare after showing them how user friendly and simple the platform is. For this generation, they are used to using technology like this, so it comes naturally to them, and so, I think it makes for a smoother transition into their future careers. Funeral directors work long hours, and it’s a challenging job emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I feel that Passare does make the job a little bit less stressful because you don’t have to put in the same information over and over and it’s easy to find everything you need about each case. It’s all right there in one place. Anything you can do to alleviate stress for a funeral director is going to go a long way toward keeping more good people in the profession.

Have you seen Passare adapt and grow since you first started using the platform?
Adapting Passare for use in higher education obviously meant making changes to the platform, but the Passare team was up for the challenge. From the beginning, Passare has been accommodating, helpful, and ready to tailor the system to meet our specific needs. Every person that I’ve worked with has been enthusiastic, wanting to know how they can make it better. Plus, they are quick to respond and make changes, usually within a day or two. With other software companies we’ve tried, they might take weeks to respond and implement change. Not so with Passare.

If you were to speak to another funeral service educator, what would you tell them about Passare?
There are other companies out there who offer products to higher education (and to the funeral industry) and we’ve utilized some of them, but Passare has worked the best. I’ve talked with and encouraged some funeral homes that I know of to change over to Passare, and the ones that have switched are finding that it is much simpler. I always highly recommend it. It’s also a great complementary tool to our curriculum; it makes record keeping for our accrediting agency simple; in other words, it just makes my life as an instructor a lot easier.