The history girls

Many students find the names Halkett, Waterhouse and Maddock on their schedules, but history teacher Eric Zwemer has them on his class roster.

This year, three history teachers have sophomore daughters on campus. Drew Maddock, Dr. David Waterhouse and Nini Halkett are the parents of Molly ’09, Emily ’09 and Ashley ’09, respectively.
All happen to be in the same history class.

Every fourth period, Zwemer teaches the trio of daughters, each of whom he had previously seen just as “a friend’s kid.”

Zwemer, Waterhouse, Halkett and Maddock have been colleagues since the 1991 merger of Harvard-Westlake.

The girls met each other and Zwemer during infancy at department parties.

“I met them all when we were really young and Mr. Zwemer before I could speak,” Molly said.
Zwemer explained that in class he doesn’t refer to anything too personal in order to maintain a teacher-student relationship.

“What I want to avoid is the idea that the rules or the job is different,” Zwemer said.

This is his first time teaching children of teachers from his department and though nervous, he was mostly “bemused.”

He trusts his colleagues and himself to follow their best instincts and said no one has overstepped any boundaries.

“It’s weird because few people associate school with families,” Molly said. “It’s usually a time to spend away from them.”

She had planned to take AP World History, but developed second thoughts once she found out that her father was the only teacher.

“I would be worried that every time I did well on a test people would think I didn’t deserve the grade,” she said.

Along with the three daughters, many other parent-student pairs are on campus.

Math teacher Suzanne Lee teaches her son Nathan ’08. She is the only teacher of AP Calculus BC.

Lee explained that she consulted science teacher Walt Werner, whose two daughters, Emily ’02 and Jenny’ 06, attended the school, “I asked him about teaching his own child,” Lee said. “At first I felt uncomfortable, but it was much better than I thought it would be.” 

Waterhouse, however, thinks that teaching one’s own child is “not a good idea.”

“There might be a tendency for a parent to be biased to make sure there wasn’t a bias,” he said.
Whether in the classroom or the cafeteria, teachers have the opportunity to watch their children in an often-strange setting not normally seen by most parents.

“I was holding hands with someone by my locker when Mr. [Larry] Klein walked by,” Ashley said. “I thought he promised not to tell, but my mother brought it up later that night.”

Teachers have also noticed the disadvantages.

“Along with having a parent at your school, you also have about other teachers who know and care about you, so they’re also watching you,” history teacher Katherine Holmes-Chuba who has two children, Nick ’10 and Olivia ’12 said. “Faculty kids are under a lot more scrutiny.”

And although the admission process is the same for every applicant, there is some extra attention for faculty children.

To have her children attend the school where she taught raised certain concerns for Lee, who has been teaching here for eight years.

“I told them, ‘How you behave at school reflects on me. In six years, you’re done, you can leave, but I’m still teaching,’” Lee said. “And I never really had to talk to them about it again.”