Fall is my favorite time of year. Football is here, festivals are coming, and cooler weather is on the way. The first quarter of the school year ends on October 11.

Indeed, fall has many faces. While the fall season is full of fun, as a former principal, I know this is also a very serious time of year for students and parents. By now parents have received their child’s progress report and report cards are on the way. These reports are the first indications of how well students are performing in all subjects and whether they are behaving appropriately and attending classes on time. If your child’s report showed areas of concern, make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher or at the very least have a telephone conversation.

The value of a teacher conference cannot be over emphasized. Parents should make every effort to know the human beings who are with their children seven hours every day. Teachers benefit from learning about parents’ schedules, the history of the student, and other events happening which could have effects on the child’s performance.

Remember, parents and teachers are on the same team so the better they understand each other the greater the likelihood the children will benefit. Without question, anything which is occurring at home, that could be having an impact on a child at school, needs to be communicated to the student’s teacher.

Even if a student’s report card is satisfactory, I recommend parents request a teacher conference. Parents and teachers need to know each other and establish clear lines of communication before there is reason for alarm. Parents/guardians, who cannot attend a conference should schedule a time certain for a teacher telephone conference. FaceTime and Skype are other personal ways for teachers and parents to communicate.

One last thing about communication. Emailing and texting are fine for simple yes or no questions or just asking or responding with a factual answer, such as; What time is Open House? Keep email and texts short and simple. Any topic which requires an explanation should be addressed by two-way communication in person, by telephone, FaceTime, or Skype. Misinterpretation is common with email and text messages, which often makes a small issue a bigger one.

So… get engaged with your school and make this fall season fantastic! Participate and volunteer in fall festivals, Halloween carnivals, PTA activities, sporting events, homecoming, and other activities. Trust me, teachers and principals love parents who are supporting their schools. Enjoy the many happy faces of fall.

Carl Persis

Chair, Volusia County School Board