IMSA’s Fall 2021 Virtual Parent Day

IMSA hosted their first virtual Parent Day over Zoom in 2021. | Source: Illinois Math and Science Academy

Parent Day at IMSA is an opportunity for parents to get a glimpse into their children’s everyday lives inside the classroom. This event usually takes place in person towards the beginning of the academic year, and families are provided with information about their children’s course curricula directly from teachers.

Parent Day is not a mandatory event. However, IMSA, the Parents Association Council (PAC), teachers, and students highly recommend parents attend so that they can understand the academic expectations set on their children.

Fall of 2021 was the semester IMSA hosted Parent Day virtually over Zoom despite students being back on campus. In the past, the event always began bright and early at 8:00 am in the auditorium. This year, Virtual Parent Day kicked off on September 18, at 9:00 am. Families had the opportunity to join a Main Zoom Room call at 9:00 am to hear remarks from Principal and Chief Academic Officer, Comfort Akwaji-Anderson, and from the IMSA President, Dr. Evan Glazer.

After introductory remarks, parents were given the opportunity to join Zoom calls hosted by their students’ teachers. Personalized schedules were emailed the week of the event and provided the times and Zoom links for each course and teacher. The schedules followed each child’s mod schedule, but each mod was shortened to 20 minutes.

With teachers having only 20 minutes of classroom time with parents, they took advantage of this time by showcasing presentation slides with information about their course, themselves as a teacher, what students are expected to do in their class, and how parents can help support their children.

Along with this, math classes often give parents example warm-up problems to work through, while certain science classes may set up mini-labs. This was more difficult to accommodate this year because of the virtual setting, but many teachers made sure to capture pictures of students working on warm-up problems or labs throughout the week to show parents their children in action.

Along with being able to meet teachers, parents had the opportunity to hear presentations from the College and Academic Counselors (CACs) and the Student Inquiry and Research Department (SIR). Normally, there would be an additional in-person presentation about cultural clubs and performances students participate in such as Diwali, Lunar, Harambee, and Casa de Alma.

There are separate CAC presentations for sophomore, junior, and senior parents, which aim to address concerns from parents regarding their child’s journey beyond high school. During these sessions, CACs give a short presentation about their role in students’ academic lives and give parents an opportunity to ask questions.

As for the SIR presentation, it is reserved for sophomore and junior parents who have children that are not currently enrolled in a SIR project. The SIR team presents slides detailing the goals of student research projects and why parents should encourage their students to explore these projects in high school.

After IMSA hosted its first virtual Parent Day, The Acronym has collected responses from two IMSA teachers about their perspective on how the event went.

How did you approach setting up parent day virtually in comparison to the past?

Mr. Evan Brummet (Math Department): I still did Zoom, and my goal on parent day is to explain my syllabus, the different vocab I use for assignments and quizzes, and talk about what my quiz is about. It wasn’t widely different, it just required PowerPoints and sharing screens.

Dr. Jessica Amacher (Science Department): I set up parent day about the same as in the past. I usually use a set of slides to introduce myself, talk about the class, and give advice on how to support their students. So I did the same this year. Usually, in person, I also keep a lab set up for parents to look at or tape up student work around the classroom. This year I tried to incorporate something similar, adding pictures of students working during class and photos of their work on the whiteboards from earlier in the week.

Were parents more interactive/interested during the virtual parent day this year or in-person parent days in the past?

Mr. Brummet: The biggest benefit of the virtual is that more parents are able to come, especially those that live far away. There was a greater number of parents in the Zoom room, and I did have a lot ask questions. I would say there wasn’t more or less than a typical year.

Dr. Amacher: More parents/guardians attended than I usually see in person, which was nice. Some had their screens switched off and didn’t ask questions, but others asked a lot of questions and some stayed to chat at the end. In-person is a bit more interactive in general though.

In your opinion, is parent day more efficient and effective virtually or in-person?

Mr. Brummet: I do think you get a higher turnout when it’s virtual just because of how many students we have from Central and Southern Illinois. I feel like when it is in-person, I only get a lot of suburban parents. Of course, it is more personal in-person because you get to meet them face-to-face, but virtual would allow more parents to come. I don’t think I would have a strong opinion either way.

Dr. Amacher: I really think that both formats are good in different ways. I thought it was great that it was more accessible virtually but it is more fun to interact in person.

What is your favorite part of parent day?

Mr. Brummet: It is kind of funny to meet the parents, especially if they have similar personalities as the students. When it is in-person, some parents walk into the room and I know instantly who their child is, which is always a fun game to meet the people who raised all of you.

Dr. Amacher: In-person, my favorite part is chatting with parents about how awesome their students are. Also, when in person we usually get snacks in the morning, the snacks are good too.

About the Author

Kaylee Zhou
I'm Kaylee, and I am a senior this year. I live in 1502 D-wing, and this is my third year on Acronym. When I'm not doing work I enjoy being with my friends, watching Netflix, and running.

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