MHS moves to parent-teacher conferences in fall, student-led in spring

Kris Long, Print Editor-in-Chief

Manhattan High had their first typical parent-teacher conference in three years last Wednesday and Thursday. The school now intends to split their fall and spring conferences between regular parent-teacher conferences in the fall where parents can meet all of their student’s classroom teachers and student-led in the spring.

“This time of year is a crucial time of the year, so we thought it might be a good time for parents to be able to touch base with all their teachers.” — sophomore principal Ben Jimenez 

MHS switched to student-led conferences in the fall of 2018 to go with the Advisory model, which aims to help students advocate for themselves and get them engaged in their future plans during high school. However, student-led conferences allowed less time for parents to talk to teachers, making it unpopular for some. 

“We had some people that have come to us and say ‘hey, we’d like to meet with all of our teachers’ and so working with [head principal Micheal] Dorst and some of our department heads, we discussed the idea of going back in the fall to a traditional parent-teacher conference,” sophomore principal Ben Jimenez said.  “This time of year is a crucial time of the year, so we thought it might be a good time for parents to be able to touch base with all their teachers. And then in the spring when it’s more of a crucial time for pre-enrollment for next year and looking into what kids need to be doing as far as scholarships and seniors, the routes that they need to go, we thought that’d be a good time to meet with the advisors and do student-led conferences.”

Changing back to parent-teacher conferences did not change participation significantly, with 38% of students’ families attending. Most MHS conference attendance since 2013 has fallen between 30% and 50% — with 29.9% as a low in the spring of 2019 and 55.2% as a high in the fall of 2018.

“Compared to previous years, it’s about average,” Jimenez said. “We didn’t see a loss, which was one thing that we are concerned that we are going to see. And it wasn’t a huge growth, it was right about where we predicted.”

Last school year student-led conferences were offered over Zoom, which increased the attendance to 52%. Zoom was not available for the conferences last week but administration hopes to continue its use in the spring.

“Last year when we did the Zoom meeting rooms and things… during our main COVID time, we actually saw some increases,” Jimenez said. “And so that’s why we decided to look into the spring doing it the way that we did it last year, because we actually had a really positive turnout.”