How does it feel to have a parent work at PHS?

Jack Estes and Lexy Hacker

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Junior Derek Cavanaugh reflects on what it is like to have his dad, social studies teacher Pat Cavanaugh, work at the school that he attends.
Photo by Alyssa Franklin

 Some teens may find themselves waking up every morning with a groggy mind, unwilling to haul themselves onto their morning bus or into their own car to make their way to school; these students give not  a second thought to seeing their parents readying themselves for work as the students themselves get ready to go.                                                  However, for some ‘lucky’ students, they arrive at school already expecting a certain friendly face: their own parent, working as teacher at their own school. Building a social life, staying up with school work and keeping out of trouble are things that every student faces; but for these students with parents who happen to be teachers, these experiences are most certainly different than those of the average teen.
Some students might think that having a parent as a teacher would be terrible; they expect nothing but ridicule from their peers, constant badgering from their parent  and weird feelings passing mom or dad in the hall. However, for sophomore Sophia Whicker, there are only benefits to having her mom – Spanish teacher Renea Whicker – working at the school. “[I’m] always able to go to her during the day for any sort of help,” Whicker said. “She is always around and knows all of the drama and stuff going around.” She went on to discuss how having her mom as a teacher affects her social life and school life. “People talk to me more because they have her as a teacher,” Whicker said. “[Having her at the school] affects my relationship with other teachers because my mom knows them on a more personal level.” She added that her mom helps her study for quizzes or tests and pushes her to do the best she can do, thereby helping her improve her grades. Sophia Whicker’s experiences having a parent as a teacher give a lot of insight into a unique experience of high school; for other students with parent teachers, the feeling might be entirely different.
Where Sophia Whicker had never felt uncomfortable or worried about her mother being a teacher at the school, senior Ben Payton openly accepts the inherent weirdness of seeing one of his parents at school: English teacher Lisa Payton. “I just kind of embrace the awkwardness, so we make silly faces at each other in the hallway,” said Payton. “My friend TA’s for her, so it’s like a giant, real-life ‘your mom’ joke.” Payton also stated that, since he’s used to having her at school, it doesn’t really affect his day-to-day life. However, he did say that having her there makes it much easier for other teachers to catch him doing anything. “Teachers go straight to her if I do anything,” Payton said. “I could sneeze and they’d be like, ‘Ben has been acting up again!’” While he was joking, it is fairly obvious that being the son or daughter of a teacher could push a person into the spotlight of other teachers’ attention. Most students wouldn’t enjoy this, but for Payton and Whicker, having their parents at school was a benefit.
In fact, the increased attention given to these students may help to foster new teacher-student relationships and help the student succeed in classes. Junior Cade Ritter talked about how having his mother – science teacher Susan Ritter – at school has helped his grades and built up his own teacher-student relationships. “Having a parent at my school helps my grades because she has an idea of what is going on in all of my classes, and she can get ahold of some teachers so I can ask for help,” Ritter said. “I also can get to know other teachers on a more personal level instead of a professional level, unlike most people.” Ritter talked about how having his mom at school didn’t affect his social life; he felt that the only social disturbance he encountered was his friends mentioning that they have his mom as a teacher. He also felt that his mom acted no different at school than she does at home. “I don’t really know any different, so my home life isn’t really affected by having my mom at school,” Ritter said. “She [also] knows everything that I do, so it’s harder to get away with things.”
At first glance at these student’s unique lives and experiences, most other students would turn their noses up at the idea of their parent working at the school alongside themselves; again, many teenagers would think that they would be made fun of or embarrassed by their parent’s inclusion into the school. For those with parent teachers, the high school experience is all the same with a fun and unique twist. “I’m always glad that I’m able to go to my mom for anything,” said Sophia Whicker. “She pushes me to do better, and I could possibly have her as my teacher.”

Kayla Benge, 12 (daughter of Curt Benge, social studies)

“It really doesn’t feel any different than if I was at home; I actually get to learn a little more about him here at school than I do at home. He tells more stories, more experiences, stuff like that; he relates them to his subject, which helps me learn. It’s pretty much the same; he’s very, very funny, so he sometimes tries to use comedy – sometimes people laugh, but sometimes they don’t, which is about the same at home.”

Derek Cavanaugh, 11 (son of Pat Cavanaugh, social studies)

“It’s a bit weird, in the beginning. You feel like they’re going to embarrass you, [like] tell embarrassing stories about you. It gets beneficial, because you obviously have them at home to ask them about questions about classes if you’re struggling on homework or a quiz, and they’ll tell you exactly what to study. In the beginning, it was weird [to have friends in his classes]. As we went through the semester, it got a lot better. [My dad] acts differently at school; he’s more controlling. At home, he’s more laid back.”


Kayla Gossman, 10 (daughter of Karen Gossman, French)

“It’s very interesting; she’s always there, and she knows everyone in your grade, or everyone in your class, so she knows just as much drama as I do. She’s still crazy. I’m in her class, too; it’s fun, most of the time.”

Miller Nichols, 11 (daughter of Jamie Nichols, Spanish)

“It’s nice to be able to talk to her whenever I need stuff during the school day. I’m pretty laid back, so [seeing her at school] doesn’t bother me – I’m used to it. My friends [also have a pretty good relationship with my mom, so it’s [not weird] at school.”

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How does it feel to have a parent work at PHS?