Living up to the legacy

Impacts of having a teacher as a parent

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How would you feel if all the time when you were at school, one of your parents was right there with you, around for the ups and downs of your school day? For some students, this question is a reality. We chatted with a few about their experiences, perspectives, and feelings on having a parent on staff.

Zola Gross ’23, daughter of principal Mitch Gross, talked about how comfortable and nice it is to see her father at school every day. But she felt like the pressure is high for her to not mess up. “I do feel pressure to not mess up, like not to cheat on a test or skip school or do anything because they would instantly go to him [and] it would be 10 times easier for someone else to do all that stuff than me.” 

 

In a similar boat is her younger sister,  Mary Danielle Gross ’25. She noticed her actions were influenced by her dad’s position as well. “Every social media post, everything I say, I just have to be prepared to be like, ‘That’s Mr. Gross’ daughter.'”

Zola Gross also talked about the stereotype she receives that she has a higher amount of knowledge about the school than most teachers. “A lot of people assume that I know a little bit, like late starts and no school, but I was with my dad. He’s gotten the same call from the district that everyone else gets and I found out the exact same time he did.

Every social media post, everything I say, I just have to be prepared to be like, ‘That’s Mr. Gross’ daughter.’ ”

— Mary Danielle Gross '25

Evan Zukin ’22 is the son of Renee Zukin; Literacy and Language Arts teacher for Northwest Junior High, and English 9 teacher for West. Zukin mentioned expectations towards his literary performance, commenting that, “Sometimes people assume that I’m really good at reading or writing. And honestly, I’m not. Writing and like English, in general, is just one of my, like the bane of my existence, [to be honest].” Zukin spoke about show choir at West as well, citing his mom as one of the ways he was inspired to join. Ms. Zukin went to West High School and participated in the show choir’s Good Time Company for her four years of high school. “So I was very much looking forward to [show choir] but [my mom] having been in it was definitely like yeah, I want to be in that and try that out too.” Zukin said.

Similar to Zola Gross, Zukin felt nervous that his actions would have an impact, touching on a time when he got into trouble in junior high. “I got a day of out-of-school suspension in junior high, yes. And so that I was very much worried that I would reflect poorly on my mom, especially being a teacher there.” 

One good thing about having a parent at school is having a helpful presence around.  Zola Gross and Zukin both agreed that it could be nice having a parent at school because of this.  “No, I love having my dad at school,” Gross remarked. “Every time I have a question I just like go to his office … ” Zukin reflected on how this was handy in junior high school. “It definitely helped in junior high a lot, because if I ever needed a break I could just go sit in her room.” Zukin spoke about being very inspired by his mom, saying that, “My mother is definitely one of the strongest people I know, and she has never not been like a light … ”

My mother is definitely one of the strongest people I know, and she has never not been like a light … ”

— Evan Zukin

Altogether, it seems like having a parent around during the school day can have its added pressures and stereotypes, but the benefits, such as more to connect and safe space when needed, far outweigh the negatives.