The Best and Worst Day of the Year
After months of hearing about their child’s school life from afar, Packer parents get the chance to spend one day, and one day only, walking in their kid’s shoes. For some, parent visiting day is the best day of the entire school year. For others, it brings unwarranted stress and disrupts their normal routine.
Parent visiting day is highly anticipated for most parents. Since teenagers are not typically very willing to share details of their lives with their families, the event serves as a welcome opportunity for parents to get a glimpse into their kids’ everyday lives.
“[Parent visiting day] brings the school to life for them,” said Upper School Head Maria Nunes. “A lot of parents said they wish they could go back to high school because they thought the teachers at Packer were great and the classes were really interesting. I think it gives them a greater appreciation for how students are learning today.”
While parent visiting day is often beloved among parents, many Packer students do not share their families’ affectionate approval of the day.
“My parents obviously enjoy it, but I don’t think it’s helpful because it causes a lot of stress,” said an anonymous junior. “I’m already someone who does not enjoy participating in class frequently, and having all the parents’ eyes on you, it puts you on edge.”
Sarah Yankauer (‘20) shared a similar opinion: “I think that it really throws off the class dynamic. It makes some students try to participate a lot more, and it makes some students get super nervous and uncomfortable. I’d definitely say there’s a tension in the class and I also think that some teachers try to perform and try to do a lot more than they would in a normal class, which isn’t realistic.”
Given that the day can cause tension in classrooms, many teachers attempt to shift class plans to mediate any awkwardness.
“I do think that teachers try to cater to that [tension],” explained Nathalie Pridgen (‘22). “In my English class the parents were involved and we actually did an activity with them, so I think that was interesting.”
Logistically, parent visiting day often causes unwanted scheduling issues for faculty and students.
“It comes at a bad time of the year for faculty, I would say,” said Cameron Lemley, Upper School Math Teacher. “As [students] have also experienced, basically all of November is super hectic in terms of assessments and projects and papers and everything. Faculty members are writing comments during almost all of November, so for parent visiting day to fall right at the beginning of that comment writing period feels particularly taxing for us.”
There are definite positives and negatives to Packer’s tradition of parent visiting day, but the reasons behind its existence in our community have not been discussed for a long time. Ian Rumsey, Mathematics Department Head, prompted the Packer community to contemplate the rationale behind having the day at all.
“The question I have is why do we continue to do it?” he asked. “I think there might be really thoughtful and legitimate reasons, but I don’t think any of those have really been considered for quite a while. It’s kind of one of those things where we put parent visiting day on the calendar because it was on the calendar last year.”
Love it or hate it, parent visiting day has remained a tradition in our community for years. However, the true intentions of the event are unknown to many of Packer’s student body and staff. Before the day arrives again in 2020, perhaps our community can consider why we continue the tradition of parent visiting day and develop solutions to problems that the day has presented.