School Introduces Modified Conference System


Illustration by Michelle Levinger ’19.

Caroline Champa

Cartoon by Michelle Levinger ’19

With growing enrollment, the administration set aside more time for parent–teacher conferences this fall, causing mixed reactions from teachers.

This year, parent-teacher conferences started Thursday, Nov. 2 at 2:00 p.m., lasting until 5:30 p.m. In previous years, the 10-miunute meetings did not begin until after the Thursday school day. Meetings continued from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 Friday, 30-minutes longer than usual.

Last year, 58 slots were available for conferences, with some teachers having more than that number of students, according to Dean of Students Paul Murray. The revised schedule allowed for 15 additional slots.

“We needed to find a way to get more slots in to better serve our parents,” said Murray. “If we are offering parent-teacher conferences, we need to make sure that as many parents who want to meet with teachers can.”

History Teacher David Cutler ’02 said that with teachers who coach, oversee after school activities, or have family business, he does not see a better alternative to how parent-teacher conferences should be scheduled.

“The School certainly does the best it can to accommodate its teachers, especially with keeping us caffeinated and well fed,” said Cutler, also adding that he likes the new online scheduling system introduced last spring.

For her part, science teacher Jill Iuliano says that while the conferences are “tiring,” she prefers the longer  days, which allows more parents to make appointments.

“The change allowed us to see more parents face-to-face, instead of making calls for people who were unable to schedule because of full schedules.”

Kyla Graves, who teaches humanities in the Middle School, said that she appreciated the longer parent-teacher schedule Thursday, which afforded her additional time to complete work between meetings. At the same time, she said, “not all teachers got that time.”

Middle and Upper School Choral Director Frank Van Atta had packed schedules both days, but he felt “energized” speaking with parents.

“The biggest downside for me was the missed class time,” Van Atta said. “We’ve missed class time this fall, so missing another Friday on top of Veterans Day, and on top of Thanksgiving break and the other breaks that we have is my biggest concern.”

However, Neudel says that the administration plans accordingly for missed class time.

“At the beginning of the year, we do an analysis of all class time that’s going to be missed for the semester,” Neudel said. “Then we add in different periods and make adjustments, to sort of make up for that. We know exactly how many classes each class is missing.”

In fact, this Tuesday the administration implemented a special schedule to accommodate for classes impacted by missed instruction time. Another modified schedule is also set for next Tuesday.

Once a semester, teachers also write progress reports about each of their students, including suggestions for continued growth.

Editors’ note: David Cutler also serves as advisor to The Gator.