Parent-teacher conferences see spike in attendance

COLUMBIA CITY — Columbia City schools have “overwhelming” parental involvement in the progress and future of their students, according to Whitley County Consolidated School’s Superintendent Dr. Patricia O’Connor.O’Connor presented the numbers of the most recent parent-teacher conferences to the corporation’s Board of School Trustees at a work session Monday.“We were very pleased by the high school percentage of parents that attended the conference,” said O’Connor, saying that the 50 percent participation in the conferences, or 588 parents, was much higher than in recent years.“It had been as low as 10 percent,” she said.At the elementary and middle school conferences, some schools had nearly all the parents present, with Coesse and Little Turtle elementary schools showing a parent attendance percentage of 97 percent.Mary Raber and Northern Heights elementary schools showed attendance of 91 and 90 percent respectively while at Indian Springs Middle School, parent involvement was 88 percent.At the high school, O’Connor said a shift in focus created an environment that created added incentive for parents to attend the meetings.“It was an opportunity for the student, parents and the teachers to discuss the student’s academic program and that alignment to their goals,” she said.According to O’Connor, parent-teacher conferences had been a tool to help bring academically-struggling students back up to speed.“Before, parents went when you were failing,” she said. The new focus, she said, was outlining the plan of academic attack for the student’s life after high school in order to “make sure you’re on track so that when you graduate, you’re going to be ready for where you’re going.It brings relevance to what the student is doing in high school.”O’Connor said the recent spike in high school parent involvement showed a cohesiveness between all parties involved.“We’re all locking arms and working together as a team,” she said.“I think from the teachers’ point of view, that gives you a wonderful boost to let you know you’re working as a team.“This has created a whole new relationship between the parent and the school. It was overwhelming and positive.”