By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald
Brighter students, better technology and more engaging classes.
Those thoughts summed up the assessment of several visiting parents about their day of classes at Harker Heights High School compared to their own high school experiences 20 years ago.
For the second year, the leadership at Harker Heights High School invited parents to spend a day walking with their sons and daughters through classes.
About 300 parents signed in for Walk-A-Day at the start of the school day Tuesday.
Several teachers said they welcomed the parents and that they made a point to keep the day true to any other day.
Laura LeBlanc's world history students divided into four teams and competed to come up with the most descriptions from their textbook regarding a specified period of history of Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
The competitive game, allowing students to challenge other teams' results was a typical method of lecturing, LeBlanc said.
In Latin class, students worked to come up with the correct English interpretation of a word or phrase, write it on a white board and show it to teacher Paula Jordan.
"They know a lot more than I do," said Missy Pritchard, who experienced the class with her son, freshman Zach Pritchard.
In the Latin class and in an earlier computer class, Pritchard said she was impressed how quickly students sponge up material. She also praised the technology that is available with computers and projectors in every class.
She said she was confident that classes like Latin would prepare her son for college.
In the same class, Christopher Stoll sat with his daughter, Christin Stoll.
"It's different than it was in the '80s," the dad said at the end of class.
He recalled the clicking film projectors and dusty chalkboards of the past and said the white boards and ceiling mounted projectors were a welcomed improvement.
"It's funny to look at his face," Stoll, a sophomore, said of her father. "He's seeing that what I do is not that easy."
Jordan hardly stopped moving during the Latin class. She said a phrase and wrote it on the white board. Students scrawled out the English in words or pictures and held it up and then she went to the next term.
She said it's a good idea for parents to enter their students' world of school.
"There's no reason we can't be transparent," the Latin teacher said. "As parents we tend to micromanage at the early stages and then drop out later on.
"Here, when they see the large high school and going from class to class, they see how fast students have to focus."
Assistant principal Sarah Salter confirmed that transparency was part of the reasoning for inviting parents inside.
"It's so parents can experience what their children do every day," Salter said.
Following last year's parent visitation day, feedback showed parents appreciated the hard work of teachers to instruct challenging subjects while managing a room full of teenagers.
"They can't believe what teachers do all day," Salter said of parent response.
It's a good time for teachers to think about their students multiple challenges, too, Jordan said.
As one class left and a fresh one entered her classroom, Jordan pointed out that they had just been to one class and now needed to sit down and refocus on something totally different.
"Parents should be apprised and aware of the demands on their students," the teacher said. "I think they go away with a new appreciation for their sons and daughters and for the teachers."