By Tanya Fogg Young (Special to The Citizen)November 29, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany -- Josh Guere and his wife, Kara, recently attended parent-teacher conferences at BAfAPeblingen Elementary/Middle School to gain insight into how their two daughters are adjusting to school.
"It was comforting to know that both of our girls are very respectful at school and continually take pride in their work," Guere said of daughters Jillian, a fifth-grader, and Melanie, a first-grader.
Guere said he and his wife had no special concerns about their youngsters, but just thought it "... important to have some type of parent-teacher interaction to avoid any potential miscommunication," he said.
"Most information is relayed via e-mail or flyer, but sometimes teachers rely on young children to pass information, which is not always reliable," he said.
The four schools in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart recently held parent-teacher conferences, marking the end of the school year's first quarter and the issuing of grade reports. School administrators and teachers stress that the face-to-face meetings with parents are designed for the benefit of all students, not just those struggling in school.
"The school-home partnerships target all students at all levels," said Michael Johnson, principal of Robinson Barracks Elementary/Middle School.
"Improvement of our schools begins with the individual academic and social improvements of our students. Conferences with our parents are great avenues of individualized attention for their children," he said.
Amy Rush, a fifth-grade teacher at Patch Elementary School, described the recent conferences as "... truly our first big meeting with parents" to inform them of their children's progress. Rush said she encourages her fifth-graders to attend the meetings with their parents.
"It's a great way to establish that partnership and let kids know we're working together to make sure they receive the best education," she said. "In fifth grade, I like for the children to show up because they can explain their work to their parents and it's not just coming from me. It's a chance for the kids to hold their own."
Patch Elementary kindergarten teacher Melissa Nettleingham requires that each of her students' parents meet in person with her. Nettleingham said it is vital that parents know precisely where their children are academically and where they need to be by the school year's end.
No matter the child's academic level, Nettleingham said she provides her students' parents with tools, such as flash cards and recommendations of web sites, complete with explanations on how best to use them.
"It's super important that they come," she said. "... without parental involvement, students tend to have more behavior problems and struggle more academically."