Speaker offers advice about overprotective parents

Admissions officers, academic and athletic supervisors learned to deal with meddling parents and imperfect coworkers at two on-campus workshops given by organizational psychologist Robert Evans last Tuesday.

Evans is the executive director of The Human Relations Service, which consults with schools across the country.

The first workshop addressed the growth of what Evans called the “negative minority” of parents in the school community.

The spiked pressure surrounding college admissions has nurtured an “entitled consumer” attitude within the parent populations of independent schools – they expect a favorable outcome (admission to college) in exchange for their tuition money, Evans said.

He advised attendees of the morning workshop, namely deans and attendance officers, to be more frank with parents about what to expect from the get-go, and suggested instating a sort of community honor code that lists the values that “really matter” to the school community.

Parental interference was also a dominant theme in the second workshop, which consisted of a group of athletic and academic officials invited by Head of School Dr. Jeanne Huybrechts because they “supervise other adults in some way.”

 “Independent schools often hear, ‘I didn’t pay all that money for my child to get a C!’ Next time you get that,” he joked, addressing the teachers in the room, “say ‘I’ll write a note to the business office, maybe we only have you down for a C tuition!’”

Earlier in the year Huybrechts had asked academic department heads and athletic supervisors to list difficulties they faced in their positions.

Evans focused much of the workshop on the common vein in their responses, discussing the “dilemma” of being a supervisor in an independent school, which is that “they have more responsibility than they have authority.”

Upper School History Department Head Katherine Holmes-Chuba said she found the workshop very helpful and would “definitely take [Evans’] advice on certain things.”

She called the workshop “a definite thumbs up.”

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