A different dynamic: the children of teachers

Liza Rodler

While the handful of students with parents who teach at Redwood enjoy the benefits of always having a ride to school, they must also come to terms with sharing the proverbial high school experience with a family member.

“You have a parent in your space,” said junior Zack Cohen, son of AP Environmental Science teacher Mitch Cohen. “I think for most kids, school is a separation from their home life, and for me, that line of separation is more blurred.”

Students who have parents as teachers said that upon first coming to Redwood, they feared that their relations to the teaching staff would cause other students or teachers to treat them differently.

Junior Ian Jaime said that the dynamic between him and his mother, history teacher Ann Jaime, changed noticeably.

“I had been used to going home, and I could say my teachers are weird, and she wouldn’t have an opinion because she wouldn’t know them,” Jaime said. “But when I come home now with something like that, the teacher sensors go off.”

Sophomore Zack Ryan said that the strangest part of having a parent at school is witnessing the relationship between his dad, English teacher Jeff Ryan, and fellow students.

“It’s weird seeing him talk to people I don’t officially know — people who aren’t my friends, but people I have been in classes with,” Ryan said.

Valentina Castro, senior, said she doesn’t often hear other students discussing her mom, Spanish teacher Deborah McCrea. However, Jaime said that there have been a few instances where he has heard peers commenting on his mom.

“That is the only time when it’s felt weird, because I don’t know how to respond to that,” Jaime said. “I want to come to the defense of my mother, but I don’t want to be the obvious, ‘Look at me everybody! I am the teacher’s pet!’”

While Cohen said he is now able to tune out other students’ conversations about his dad, Ryan and Castro said they rarely hear comments about their parents beyond typical grumbles about tests and assignments, which they feel are provoked by nearly every teacher.

“When I was a freshman, I was afraid that I was going to go to high school and get good grades because of my mom, or bad grades because my mom didn’t like the teacher,” Jaime said. “I was wishful that it wouldn’t happen, and I’m fairly positive it hasn’t happened.”

None of the four said they believe their position as children of teachers has affected their academics.

“I think some teachers might know me a little better and so that changes the relationship I have with teachers, but I definitely don’t receive special treatment,” Cohen said.

According to Castro, many people are not quick to recognize the relationship and don’t treat her differently because she does not share McCrea’s last name.

“I don’t think people change their behavior around me, or at least not that I’ve noticed,” Castro said.

For both Cohen and Castro, Redwood was not the first school to blur the line between school and family life. Coincidentally, Cohen and Castro each had a parent on the staff of their grammar schools, so having a parent in the Redwood community was nothing new.

“For me, it wasn’t really an adjustment,” Cohen said. “It was what I was used to.”

While students may presume that teachers’ kids enjoy the benefit of extra help on assignments, the four each said that they don’t receive help beyond what most parents offer their children.

Jaime said he occasionally approaches his mom with a question concerning U.S. History, but always precedes this by asking if he would be receiving an unfair advantage by getting the answer.

For some of these students, a parent’s classroom does more than double as a storage place for bulky projects.

However, for some of these students, having a parent on faculty offers unique and subtle benefits that other students do not so readily enjoy.

“I’m comfortable with the fact that there’s a second locker, or it’s a place when, if I’m really angry and I really don’t want anybody else to hear, I can go to her,” Jaime said. “Having that extra out has been really nice, and I think going off to college, I’ll miss it. I’ll definitely miss it.”