Nathan D. Quesnel
Superintendent of Schools
1110 Main Street, East Hartford, CT 06108 Tel: (860) 622-5107 Fax: (860) 622-5119 www.easthartford.org
September 29, 2017
Hope all is well for you and yours. It’s been a pleasure visiting our schools, hallways and classrooms over the past month and watching you serve our kids and families. I thrive off of your energy, appreciate your patience and am inspired by your kindness. We are up and running and I cannot wait to see where this school year will take us. I also really appreciate the feedback I received about our back to school launch and am very happy to hear that this format worked for you. I would be remiss not to thank my faculty advisory committee…it was their idea!
October is a special month for EHPS K-8 as we host our opening Parent Teacher Conference week. With this in mind, I wanted to write to our entire district team (regardless of your role) and share with you my feelings as a parent as I attend my kids’ conferences…
I will never forget my first parent teacher conference; Mike was a gorgeous, big grinning, elbows and kneecap little guy, complete with the flashing Lightning McQueen sneakers when I found myself awkwardly sitting in a small chair outside his classroom, waiting for our first parent teacher conference. You know the deal, shining tile floors, humming fluorescent lights, and that funny smell of cleaning fluids that every school seems to have. From inside the classroom, the hushed voices of the teacher and parent murmured and then suddenly, all I could feel was my heart pounding through my chest. Rubbing sweaty hands together, the questions raced, “What if he’s behind? What if he isn’t on track? What if she doesn’t like him?” While I had at this point led and facilitated countless parent teacher conferences throughout my career, nothing had prepared me for sitting on this side of “the desk.”
Next week, when you meet with our parents, I want to encourage you to remember that win, lose or draw, our parents come to us to talk about the single most important aspect of their life…their kids. In this moment, I ask you take the time to build a relationship with them, affirm their child, and tell them about something exceptional that their child did in class. Resist the temptation to give them the “Oreo, pickle, Oreo” sandwich and remember this is our best chance to get them on our team, and to connect to the person that knows their child best. Ask them about their dreams for their child, ask them how you can best meet their child’s needs together, ask them why their child is so special…
When we reach out in kindness and sincerity to a parent, we give ourselves the best shot to find the key that will unlock those behaviors that cannot be ignored or learning challenges that must be addressed. This doesn’t mean we don’t deliver the message that needs to be communicated…it does mean we do it with humanity, tact and care. As a district, we intentionally moved our conference week up in the year to take advantage of this time to build relationships between school and home. When you go above and beyond to let our parents know you like their child and you are willing to listen, we have our best chance of getting the end results we are all urgently looking for.
I’m looking forward to conference week next week because I know we have schools filled with educators who understand the amazing power of relationship building. Thanks for all your work to make these conferences valuable experiences for our families--I appreciate your efforts to make our schools places where parents go home and tell their kids how proud they are of them!
As always appreciative of you, your commitment and the work we continue to do together!
See you in the halls,