Students experience high school with parent-teachers


LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER Spanish teacher Liliana Ortegon (left) and daughter, sophomore Sophia Palomino (right). enjoy their time together at Grady, although they recognize some of the drawbacks of having a parent as a teacher.

When many students think of teachers, the first thought typically isn’t of their parent. With the exception of a few, parents leave the academic side of their children’s education in the hands of teachers at their local schools.

At Grady, this phenomenon of students attending the school their parent works at seems common. Many school employees have children attending or have attended Grady, including  Dr. Tamika Hibbert, Lee Pope, Dr. Jormell Cofield, Sara Looman, Liliana Ortegon and more.

There are positive and negative aspects to this situation. For instance, when a student wants a class taught only by their parent, complications arise. If another teacher teaches the same class, the student must be in the other teacher’s class. However when only the parent teaches the course, there is no other option but for the student to take that class. On the other hand, logistically, things like getting papers signed or the commute from school to home are easier.

Senior Avery and junior Alyssa Pope are Lee Pope’s kids. Pope is the only AP US History teacher, so Avery had to take his dad’s class his junior year, and Alyssa is currently taking it.

“I took his class last year,” Avery Pope said. “It wasn’t that weird. It was just like my dad teaching me the same way he has been for most of my life. The only weird part was calling him dad instead of Mr. Pope.”

Mr. Pope agrees that having his kids in his class is no different than having anyone else in the class.

“They hear me talk about this stuff all the time,” Lee Pope said. “At home, I talk history all the time, so, they’ve kind of just grown up around it. It is hard though when they don’t score well on a test, and they have to go home with the teacher who has many questions.”

Having a parent as a teacher can also have benefits. Things as small as forgetting to get a syllabus or permission slip signed can be solved by simply walking to another classroom. It can also be good for relationships with teachers in the building. Chances are, if your parent teaches at your school, you will know some of your teachers before you have them.

“It was a wonderful experience,” said AP World History teacher Sara Looman whose daughter Molly graduated in 2016.

Molly attended Inman Middle School, when her mother taught there, and after she moved on to Grady, her mother eventually moved up, too.

“We were together from 6th grade to 12th grade with the exception of 9th grade because I came to Grady her sophomore year. Both in middle school and high school, we actually did not see each very often during the day, but we always had adventures to tell during the dinner hour.”

“I loved my time at Grady, and a big part of that was because my mom taught there,” Molly said. “When she was offered the job at Grady, she asked me if I was okay with it, and I said, ‘of course.’ Grady has made her as happy as it has made me.“

Although the Loomans and the Popes have had good experiences having their parents teaching at their school, everyone doesn’t see the situation as completely positive. While sophomore Sophia Palomino enjoys having her mom Liliana Ortegon as a Spanish teacher at Grady, she recognizes some of the disadvantages.

“Some drawbacks are that some people think I have access to the grade book, which I don’t,” Palomino said. “A lot of teachers and some students just know me as [Ms.] Ortegon’s daughter, and I think some teachers even expect me to be this perfect student because my mom is a teacher.”

Regardless of some drawbacks, Sara Looman said there’s extra benefit to teaching where her daughter attended school.

“I am proud to be known as ‘Molly’s mom’ here at Grady High School,” Looman said.

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