February 4, 2014

High school administrators are making changes in the format of parent-teacher conferences next week with the goal of increasing participation.

The first change is that the teachers will be located in the gym instead of their individual classrooms. According to high school assistant principal Tammie McKenzie and consultant to the high school principal Trent Grundmeyer, this change will improve convenience since parents won't have to walk throughout the school. Teachers will also have a sign-up sheet allotting 10 minutes of uninterrupted time for any parent who seeks out a specific teacher.

The second change is the addition of informational sessions to help parents understand different parts of the college-application process. Topics of these 15-minute sessions include ACT-testing information, college course availability at the high school, tips to improve study skills and the basics of recommendation letters, transcripts and college visits. They are scheduled at 5, 5:30, 6 and 6:30 p.m., respectively, on both Monday, Feb. 10, and Thursday, Feb. 13. Those sessions will be held in the library.

Teachers will be available throughout the afternoon and evening, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. both days.

The information sessions and relocation of teachers have resulted from parent feedback collected through a survey that was distributed about two weeks ago.

"We had been tossing the idea around all semester," McKenzie said. "We're trying to make the conferences as accessible and meaningful as possible for parents to increase that home-to-school communication."

McKenzie said turnout for high school parent teacher conferences is low, partly because parents can now access their children's grades online, and partly because the students themselves don't encourage their parents to participate at the high school level.

Students don't just magically not need support when they reach, she said, adding that in fact high school is a pretty rigorous time for students.

"Every credit counts," she said. "Communication is crucial. Parents know their children better than anyone, and we want to do everything we can to make sure we support their academic and social needs to prepare them for life after high school."

To reserve a conference time, call the high school office at 792-8010.