Marysville Exempted Village School District
Open houses boost parental involvement
Bunsold Middle School and Marysville High School principals are trying to get the attention of parents after noticing a trend.
"As soon as we opened up the online system and people got used to looking at their kids' grades daily, we saw a significant drop in that first parent-teacher conference night," MHS Principal Matt Chrispin said.
Both schools saw fewer parents coming to the year's first parent night.
"I think we both jointly said, 'we don't know what we're doing wrong'," BMS Principal Kathy McKinniss said.
So they decided to open the doors to welcome parents at an open house with more intimacy.
MHS gave parents their students' schedules and parents spent 10 minutes in each class Wednesday, meeting teachers and getting a closer look at how their child's day progresses.
Bunsold hosted parents in the same style of open house, but offered two sessions on Tuesday night to try to give parents more options.
McKinniss said both schools want to know how to get parents interested.
"What's the hook to get parents to want to come in? I think by middle school and high school, parents have the expectations their kids can communicate what they need," she said." But I think these nights are beneficial."
McKinniss said this is the second year for this "curriculum night" and she does get positive feedback from the parents who show up.
"From parents who were here, they seemed to like it," she said. "The feedback I need is from the parents that weren't here. I don't know why they weren't here."
Chrisipin said open house numbers had dropped to less than 100 in previous years, which is not good in a building of more than 1,500 students.
"It was our teachers who said, 'let's try to do an open house and see if we can get people in.' Last year, we had about 150 parents," he said. "We thought it was a success because the year before and a couple years prior to that, it was pretty dismal."
Mary Grose, eighth grade language arts teacher, has taught in other school systems for close to 15 years. She said other districts have used the same kind of open house. She thinks the nights are beneficial for both parents and teachers.
"We have a talented professional staff and it's good for parents to meet the staff and know what the expectations are," Grose said. "I think it's just great to get parents in to see we're excited to teach and we're passionate about teaching."
McKinniss' concern is to form more of a partnership with parents.
"It's not like elementary; we don't have a place for the parents to come and we want to be in partnership," she said. "We want them to understand what we're doing and we want to support them in what they're doing."
McKinniss thought this year's event would be better attended.
"I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't quite as many people as I hoped," she said.
Chrispin said more people attended the MHS open house this year than last year.
Grose wants parents to know the teachers are here for each child.
"We are here to help, to lead and to encourage their growth,"Grose said.
"I think if teachers can meet parents, it's always beneficial to the teachers,"McKinniss said. "First of all, you've connected a face, then if you have to make a phone call home, good or bad, you have a connection. I think the benefit for teachers is huge."
Traditional parent-teacher conferences will take place later this fall for both schools.