MCHS conferences keep parents in the know |

MCHS conferences keep parents in the know

Teacher: Parent involvement can help struggling students

Bridget Manley

Dave Grabowski, right, Moffat County High School math teacher, reviews the academic progress of sophomore Mary Penner, left, at the high school's parent/teacher conferences Thursday night as her mother, Debby, listens. Debby said she tries to attend every parent/teacher conference she can to keep up with her daughter's progress.

On Thursday night, Moffat County High School was bustling with noise and movement long after the last bell had rung.

The occasion: parent/teacher conferences.

Amber Clark, MCHS science teacher, said she saw the same number of parents Thursday night as she usually does.

“I haven’t taken time to tally it, but it’s been really busy” she added, during a brief lull between conferences.

Teachers sat stationed in the first- and second-floor commons areas at the high school. A steady stream of parents and students moved around the tables, pausing to talk with teachers.

Debby Penner and her daughter, Mary, a sophomore, were among them.

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Debby is a regular at parent/teacher conferences.

“I try and come to all of them,” she said.

Attending conferences is important to Debby for several reasons. For one, it helps her keep track of how Mary is doing in school.

“When you work full time, sometimes you don’t get to spend as much time with your children,” she said.

For another, conferences allow Debby to begin building a relationship with her daughter’s teachers so that, in the event that something happens at school, teachers will feel comfortable calling Debby and letting her know about it.

For Mary’s part, parent/teacher conferences can be nerve-racking.

“Sometimes you get a little nervous because you don’t know what teachers are going to say,” she said, adding that she keeps a careful eye on her behavior before the conferences take place.

However, by her mother’s account, Mary had nothing to worry about. Mary had received good reports from her teachers, Debby said.

Parent/teacher conferences can elicit some uncertainty for teachers, too.

“You never know how parent/teacher conferences will go,” Clark said.

Still, she added Thursday night, all her interactions with parents that evening were positive, even with parents of students who were struggling in her classes.

From her experience, parents who keep up with their child’s work in school can make the difference, especially if that child’s grades are slipping.

If parents are involved, Clark said, even a struggling student can regain lost ground.

“It’s when the parents are absent or not part of it that the grades continue to slide,” she added.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or