Family and School Partnership
Educating Children is a Team Effort
It would be an understatement to say that educating children requires a total team effort. As educators, we at Shady Side Academy strive to provide the support, guidance and instruction for children to both develop as people and, of course, as learners. Beyond the faculty, coaches and administrators at Shady Side, the parents of our students are a crucial part of the equation. When students aren’t in school, it is parents who are providing encouragement and guidance to their children, as well as helping to ensure that their children are making choices outside of school that would help them to be successful in school.
We all have the same essential goal: that each Shady Side student will be able to attain the knowledge, skills, character traits and habits of mind required not just for the next step in their educational journey but so that they may live lives that are healthy, fulfilling and productive. Since we have a common goal, it is essential that Shady Side personnel and families work in partnership to help students achieve that goal.
At the heart of any good partnership are a few foundational concepts. Here are some for the SSA/parent partnership:
- We all must start with one assumption: that school personnel and parents of students are making decisions that are well intentioned. We may always agree, but we may also sometimes disagree about a particular issue or course of action. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we all have the same goal, though. Let’s try to understand and respect where each other is coming from.
- Like it or not, we all sometimes make mistakes. This is true of educators and of parents. Educating children and raising children are two of the hardest challenges in life. No matter how “expert” we might feel about what we are doing, to be a perfect teacher or a perfect parent is probably not an attainable goal. There is nothing more humbling than being an educator or a parent.
- Good communication is essential to a good partnership. In addition to standard, scheduled communications (grade reports, interims, etc.), communication between school personnel and parents often entails e-mails, phone calls and in-person conversations. If school personnel have a concern about a student, academic or behavioral, they should convey these concerns to parents in a timely fashion. The same is true of parents. What we ask is that the normal chain-of-command is followed:
- Individual teacher, advisor, or coach as needed in ongoing conversations
- Department Chair (where appropriate)
- Division Head
- Academy President
- It is imperative that all communication between Academy personnel and parents/guardians is courteous and respectful.
- Finally, whenever there is an issue or problem with a student, we all need to do our best to ascertain what is really going on. A student’s version of events might be different from a teacher’s or coach’s version of events. While we are all trying to be supportive of our students, we would encourage a healthy skepticism until all of the information is gathered. Some students may try to pit their parents against particular school personnel, and that isn’t a healthy or productive situation for anyone.
We do our best to inculcate the Academy’s core values of honesty, kindness, respect, responsibility and safety with our students. These values must also characterize the relationship between Academy personnel and our parents. When we adhere to these values, we not only practice what we preach to our students; we also provide the best possible foundation for the school/parent partnership.