By Curt Yeomans
Mt. Zion High School parent, Yolanda Brown, took on the role of being the team leader for a group of freshmen, including her son, Trevon Battle, in their biology class on Tuesday.
The class had been broken up into teams to create models of a plasma membrane, using Q-tips, glue, toothpicks, clay, a sheet of paper and pipe cleaners. The teams were guided by a picture found in their biology textbooks.
Brown made labels for various parts of the model by gluing pieces of paper to toothpicks. She then handed those labels to members of the team, with instructions on where the labels should go.
Tuesday was "Parents Day" at Mt. Zion High School. Mothers and fathers of freshmen were invited to spend part, or all, of the school day attending classes with their children.
"I'm excited about this," Brown said. "I agreed to participate in this because I wanted to see how he's getting along with other students, and how he's doing in all of his classes, and what he's learning in them."
This is the third year Mt. Zion High School's Freshman Academy has hosted a "Parents Day," said Principal Angel McCrary.
Because parents were coming and going throughout the day, a total number of mothers and fathers who participated in "Parents Day" at Mt. Zion was not immediately available on Tuesday afternoon.
In several classes on Tuesday morning, however, there were one or two parents either participating in educational activities with their children, or sitting quietly in the back as they observed.
"When we do the [Parents Day], it gives them a chance to see what the academic instruction is like now, because it is not the same as it was when they were growing up," McCrary said. "We're doing standards-based instruction now, where you see a lot more interaction between the students, with the teacher acting as a facilitator, rather than all of the desks lined up in rows with the teacher standing at the front giving a lecture.
"I can talk about standards-based classrooms until I'm blue in the face, but they have to see it to understand what I'm talking about," McCrary added.
Tania Bennett, the mother of freshman Antonio Bennett, Jr., compared the atmosphere of her son's world history classroom to that of a college class. It was broken up into teams in which each student was assigned to put together a book on a philosopher, such as Plato or Aristotle, using construction paper, crayons, and information sheets provided by class teacher, Margaret Olds.
The students also had to write down five facts about their philosopher, and how they were affected by that individual's teachings.
"It's way different from when I was in high school about 20 years ago," Tania Bennett said. "They work in groups, while we had to work one on one. They are allowed to get up and walk around the classroom and talk to each other, whereas we had to raise our hands just to get up or to ask a question."
Tania Bennett also said she was using the day as an opportunity to meet her son's teachers, and to find out how he's doing in his classes. "It doesn't take just the teacher, it takes the teacher and the parent to make the child prosper," she said.
Donald Pinckney, whose son, Ezra Pinckney, is in the same world history class as Tania Bennett's son, said he liked being able to sit in on the class because it allowed him to see what progress his son is making. "You get to see their progress in the classroom, and if they are having any problem areas, so we can rectify the situation," Donald Pinckney said.
As Tekia Murray sat in her daughter, Ajee Davis' biology class, she saw it as an opportunity to see what is going on in her daughter's life at school. "I like it because I get to meet the people she's hanging out with," Murray said. "I get to see what she's going through on a daily basis, as well as what she's learning."
Olds, the world history teacher, said "Parents Day" helps the parents because of the window it provides into the lives of their children. "A lot of time, kids don't go home and tell their parents what they did at school," Olds said. "This way, the parents can see what they do all day."
Students said they were, for the most part, OK with their parents sitting in with their classes on Tuesday.
"It's not like awesome, but it's cool," Ajee Davis, 14, said of building a plasma membrane with her mother in biology class. "She can know how I'm doing in school."
"It was kind of awkward, but she was just trying to check in on how I'm doing," Antonio Bennett, Jr., 15, said of his mother sitting in on his world history class.
Trevon Battle, 14, said by the time his third class of the day, biology, rolled around, he had gotten used to his mother, Yolanda Brown, being with him. He said he appreciated her taking a day off from her own schedule to sit in on all of his classes.
"It's fun and exciting because I haven't had my mom in school with me before," Battle said. "I like just knowing she's here to support me, and is behind me all the way."
As for more visits to her son's classes, Brown said, "I will do it again."