Back to School Night: We Got Syllabi
September 6, 2018
Parents and teachers gathered Tuesday evening at San Dieguito Academy for the annual Back to School Night, where the Academy’s teachers introduced themselves and showcased their semester plans to another new set of adult faces.
Prior to six o’clock opening time, the staff spent their afternoons preparing anecdotes and informative speeches, hoping to draw out a laugh or two. Art teacher Jeremy Wright maintained his tradition of telling the parents stories that his “grandma used to tell. [She] was a third-generation Encinitas resident and used to tell how the school was built.”
In fact, Wright has become so trained the task of connecting with the parents that he learned to read their marital status. “I know this is bad,” Wright said, “but I can definitely tell who the divorced parents are because they sit on opposite sides of the room.”
Math teacher Paul Brice wants to come off to the parents as “funny…and informative and supportive,” but making a memorable first impression on the parents is important for another reason. “When one of my kids was in elementary school,” Brice said, “going to Back to School Night was fun and I always thought, ‘so, what do parents want to know?’ And I think they want to know three things: who is this person…about the course…and what comes next.”
On the practical side, English teacher Kelly Chao made “copies of the syllabus for parents, ‘exit slips’ for them to write any questions or concerns they may have, and sticky notes with school supplies requests.”
Despite her calm manner and eight years of experience, Chao still gets the back-to-school night jitters. “I look forward to it, but I do still get nervous!” Chao said. “…it can be initially nerve-wracking when you have a room full of expectant parents staring at you!”
Above all, Chao just wants the freshmen parents to rest assured that their children are in capable hands and teaching is a “responsibility I don’t take lightly,” Chao said.
Concerned first time high school parents happen to be a well-known commonality among teachers. For computer science teacher Keith Trahan providing a smooth integration for them and their children is one of the reasons Back to School Night is so important. “I think freshmen parents are the only ones [really interested] due to the fact that, again, their students and to an extent them, are new to this school.” Trahan said. “…they’re eager to ask questions and listen to what I have to say.”
The transition from middle to high school for the freshman should be successful, if Back to School Night is any indication. According to Principal Adam Camacho, “…[It] is very reflective of our learning community, of our culture, of how warm and accepting it is.”
On the receiving end, parents had a mix of suggestions. Chris Morello thought that the teachers should “forgo personal introductions” to avoid any delay in making “back to school night more informative and information efficient.”
Taking a more comedic approach, parent Rose Reyes “thought it would be nice if there were some snacks!”
- Kellan Clough, Eric Guerra, Matthew Hagan, Serena Herold, Nicholas Machin, Kylie Schwartz contributed to this story