Kitty Vanzant came to Washington with a Master’s in English Education, but first worked at several federal agencies writing radio and TV scripts, speeches, and publications. After moving to West Virginia, she earned certification in gifted education and writing, and taught in rural areas of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. When a job offer led her back to Virginia, she resumed a career with the government. Today she manages a resource page for teachers of grades 6 – 12.
Just as the leaves begin to turn in the Alleghenies and the ancient Shenandoah mountains, familiar back to school routines run like a well-oiled machine…don’t they? After all, young Bubba and Tina head out the door each day. At dinner, you ask, “How was school?” And to this, you probably hear, “Fine.” But parents, don’t let the conversation end there! Carpe Diem! Be the responsible parent you are, and “Seize the day!” Channel your parent power now, in early October, and get involved in your child’s education by meeting with each teacher.
Good teachers want to hear what’s happening at home—the sooner, the better. One-on-one teacher-time will pay dividends for you, your family, and your child. When I was teaching, a mother came to see me not long after the school year had begun. Trailing behind was my student, a quiet, 7th grade boy whose missing homework papers had sunk his grade average like a rock. After I mentioned the string of missing assignments, Mom interjected, “But he told me he didn’t have any homework!” I showed her the homework board , and she gasped. “Every assignment is listed here,” she said to her son, “And here’s where you can pick up the ones you’ve missed!” She pointed to the clearly marked, homework papers milk crate, divided into 31 folders, one for each day of the month, with extra homework assignment pages neatly filed by day. No longer was her anger directed at me.
We walked to the door, as my student hung his head. “Your son’s a bright young man,” I said. “He knows what he needs to do. From his smile, I think he’s ready to take better care of himself.” It gave me a warm feeling to see the grin spread a little. Then I mentioned softly to his mother as she turned to leave, “Middle school is the bridge to high school, so our primary job as parents and teachers is to get students ready for that transition by helping them become responsible for themselves.”