Parents Experience A Day in the Life at Cass Jr. High
Moms and dads learn what its like to be a student, while trying not to embarrass their kids -- too much.
Maggie Thomas is not a lazy girl. Today the 11-year-old finally had the chance to prove it.
"She comes home from school and sits in front of the TV, and I say, 'You sat all day!' She says, 'Mom, I've been moving all day!'" said Maggie's mom, Lauren Thomas. "And now I know, she really is."
Thomas found out exactly how active Maggie's school day is when she shadowed her Wednesday during Cass Jr. High's annual Parent Visitation Day.
Twenty-seven parents tagged along with their kids during the first three periods of the day learning reading, writing and arithmetic, and a little bit more about what it means to be in junior high these days.
Principal Paul Bleuher said the shadowing experience is an especially great opportunity for fifth grade parents whose children are changing classes for the first time. With only three minutes between class periods, he said students really have to hustle between classes and stay organized to maneuver through the day.
The visitation day also gives parents a window into the often-mysterious social workings of junior high, he said.
"As a parent, it's nice to see the dynamic of this is who she sits with; this is who he talks about all the time at dinner," Bleuher said.
Paula Banks followed along with her fifth grade daughter, Annie, 11, for those very reasons.
"I wanted to see how she's adjusting, who's in her classes and how the teachers teach because they all have different styles," Banks said.
Annie said she was thrilled to play host as her mom watched the fifth grade socials studies class prepare for a Friday quiz about colonial Virginia.
"It's great she gets to witness what we do everyday instead of sitting at home and saying, 'What's going on?'" Annie said.
The experience proved enlightening even for the parents of older students. Maggie's rigorous sixth grade gym class was just the first revealing moment for Thomas. When Thomas was in junior high, she said her school had only five computers, which were built into a wall. During Maggie's social study class, Thomas watched as she surfed the web and typed on a laptop while creating a multimedia project about China.
"Once you get to college, you need a laptop all the time," Thomas said. "And it's good for them to learn the basics of research now."
Fifth grade social studies and math teacher Kristina Patrey said she tries to keep the routine as normal as possible on Parent Visitation Day so moms and dads can see what her expectations are.
Kim Euske said seeing those expectations firsthand will help her if her son Mark, 10, comes to her with a question about his homework.
"I'll remember that this is what the teacher said he should be working on right now," she said.
Predictably, not as many kids in the seventh and eighth grades want their parents following them around on Visitation Day, Bleuher said.
Being a sixth grader and right in-between the younger and older kids, Maggie first hesitated about having her mom come to school.
"She's here to embarrass me!" Maggie said.
But Thomas said she knew the truth about how Maggie felt.
"I asked her if she wanted me to come: She wanted me to come," Thomas said with a smile.