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Engaging Parents of RLA: Parent Teacher Day

A few weeks ago we sent out early assessment reports. These aren’t report cards but rather a quick snapshot of how each boy is doing academically so staff and parents can address any issues, encourage boys to put in the effort to improve their grades, or find out why a student might be struggling in one area.

On Friday we issued the first actual report cards each student will receive this school year as part of our Parent Teacher Day.

Parent Teacher Day at RLA is significantly different than parent teacher interviews in most other schools. There’s a reason we call it a “day”.

All staff work hard to put this day together. Our maintenance crew always makes sure the campus is in top shape but often spruce things up where needed – this year the halls in Loyalist (the classroom building) got a new coat of paint and some posters depicting life on campus; the kitchen staff baked up some goodies and brewed lots of coffee for parents who had travelled great distances to be here (not to mention a hearty and delicious lunch for staff); the academic staff worked long hours to ensure report cards were ready to go and every parent who wanted to meet with a teacher had the time to do so; and the administration team made sure everything worked perfectly. They all did a great job and I know the parents noticed.

Parents are invited to the Academy to meet with their sons’ section officer (the teacher who oversee a small group of boys largely to look after academics and be a parental figure), pick up report cards, and – the most important part of the day according to the cadets – pick up their sons for Stand Down for a visit home.

Parents also have the option to meet with individual teachers during this day and many take advantage of the opportunity to learn a bit more about what their sons are learning, make a connection to their sons’ school life and, occasionally, check up on marks.

For senior students time is taken to discuss their options for university and in particular choosing which university and programs he should apply to.

It’s an exciting day for RLA parents who don’t have the opportunity to stop by the school on a regular basis, both because they live too far away to make it practical and because our structure doesn’t make it possible for regular visits or school events.

All of the parents I had the opportunity to chat with on Friday were very happy to be here and appreciative of the opportunity to meet and talk to teachers. We know that the boarding school nature of the Academy makes it more difficult for parents to feel involved in their child’s school and education which is why we create a day for these important teacher meetings and why we plan other days for parents to be on campus.

The best part of the day, of course, is watching as parents finish their interviews and students are called to sign out for the weekend. Lots of hugs, lots of smiles and even some tears. 

And when all the parents have left campus, the teachers sit down to call each of the parents who could not attend in person for phone interviews. It’s important that every parent has an opportunity to discuss their son’s education with his teachers and our staff do a great job accommodating them all.

Because of the unique nature of Robert Land Academy, days like these are important in creating a school community inclusive of parents, guardians and other family members. But it’s days like these that make RLA the unique place it is as families from all over the world come together with a common bond – the best education for their son.

I had to laugh as some of our parents from Mexico complained of the cold (running out to buy hats and mitts that morning) while other parents from Northern Ontario were comfortable in just a spring jacket.

Whether they came from Ontario, Mexico or further afield, or could only be here via a telephone connection, I’m glad our RLA families took the time to be part of this important day for their son’s success and I’m proud of the work of all of our staff who make these days not only possible, but enjoyable and meaningful as well.

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