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Mixing work and family: parents teach at school children attend

Courtesy photo
Emily and Slayton Beard of Valley High School share their school with their parents. Diane teaches history, psychology and geography; George recently retired as a gym teacher but still coaches the football team.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  Some students have to worry about their parents hearing about the things they do at school. But what if you have to worry about your parents seeing those things?

That's what happens with students whose parents are teachers, like Valley High School's Slayton and Emily Beard. Until this year, both their parents taught at Valley.

Their father, George, was a gym teacher and football coach, but retired from teaching this year. Now, he's only at the school near the end of the day to get ready for football practice. Their mother, Diane, on the other hand, spends all day at the school, where she teaches history, psychology and geography.

Most students would probably hate having their parents at school with them. Slayton and Emily enjoy it.

"It's so much better and easier having her at school with me," Emily said about her mother. "If you need something, she's right there. And if you have a mom like mine, then it's very helpful."

Though that may be true, Diane said having her and her husband as teachers hasn't always been easy for the children.

"All three of my kids tell me it was difficult having both Mom and Dad in the school with them," said Diane, whose third child, Elizabeth, graduated from Valley in 2010.

"They never really could get by with things because someone always told one of us -- sometimes not on purpose. But if they were honest, I think they liked having us close if something went wrong."

According to Emily and Slatyon, their mom isn't really any different at school than at home. Slayton feels she's the same both places, and Emily said, "Mom has to be more professional at school, but she still doesn't hesitate to help me if I need it -- just like at home."

"I am able to separate being mom from being teacher," said Diane. "I have to say, though, at times [like with term papers], I am a little more invested in their performance.

"But the grading system is concrete, so that helps to have a rubric in front of me. I have never flinched when giving my kids failing scores, either."

Some students may expect their parents to treat them better than other students, but Beard's children know that's preposterous.

"When I was in Mom's class, she treated me the same as everyone else," Emily said. "I had to do just as much as everyone else, and my grade point average was fair just like everyone else."

"My children never expected special treatment and didn't call me Mom in class," Diane said. "I am sure they would have liked an inside track on tests and such, but neither of them actually asked for anything the other kids didn't receive."

When asked if they were happy about their Dad's retirement, Emily admitted that she missed seeing him at school, though since she knows she'll see him at home, she's OK with it. Slayton would rather have both of his parents still working at the school.

Even though they're not, the Beards still see plenty of their dad. "Both of my high school-aged children are active at school with sports and clubs," Diane said. "The majority of our family time is spent with their activities.

"This year, my husband retired so that 'at-home' errands and tasks are much easier to get completed," she explained, then confessed, "But I have to admit a lot of things have to wait until the weekend or days off."


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