Archive for Sunday, June 20, 2004

Kids in their father’s art class only embarrassed periodically

Parenthood is a balancing act when you’re a dualing dad

June 20, 2004

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No one had to tell second-grader Haley Fischer that being in her father's art class at Prairie Park School would be different than hanging out with him at home.

When they arrived together at school the first day, Haley said, "Bye, Dad" while sitting in the car.

"And when she got out and walked around the back side, it was, 'Hi, Mr. Fischer,'" recalls Darin Fischer, art teacher at the southeast Lawrence school. "That's the way we set the tone for the first day."

That was five years ago.

Since then, Darin's son Gavin has started school, too. He likes art a lot more than Haley, though it's not her least-favorite subject.

And their dad has only mortified them on a few occasions.

"We have beach day and pajama day and hat day," Haley says. "He wore, like, a snorkel and this little backpack thing. On pajama day..."

"He had just bought pajamas," 9-year-old Gavin interjects.

"And they were really, really short shorts," Haley finishes, rolling her eyes and shuddering at the memory.

Darin Fischer, art teacher at Prairie Park School, has instructed
both his son, Gavin, 9, left, and his daughter. Haley, 12.

Darin Fischer, art teacher at Prairie Park School, has instructed both his son, Gavin, 9, left, and his daughter. Haley, 12.

Darin just laughs.

Even if it doesn't seem like it during embarrassing moments, there are perks to having a parent who's also your teacher -- and to working in the same building where your children go to school.

"If you forget to get something signed, like for a field trip or something, you can just go down to his room and he'll sign it," Haley says.

Gavin takes comfort knowing that if he gets hurt at recess or isn't feeling well, his dad's just a few classrooms away.

"And we get lots of pop," he says.

That's because when Gavin stays after school while Darin finishes up his work day, he gets to venture into the usually off-limits teacher's lounge and get soda out of the machine.

As the school's art teacher, Darin only has his children in class 40 minutes every third day. So it's not the same as having Dad as a teacher all day, every day.

"Well, they would tell you differently, probably," Darin says.

On cue, Haley insists having her dad in the building is "weird."

Why?

"I don't know ... just the feeling that he could be watching," she says. "I just feel like I'm being watched all the time."

"I check the door every once in a while," Gavin adds.

"I'm glad they feel that way because they probably think I'm there all the time," Darin says. "I hardly get the opportunity to look in on them."

But Darin does, occasionally, get to duck into his children's classrooms and see how they're progressing.

"That's another cool thing," he says. "You get to keep that contact. I get to watch my child and their peer interactions year after year after year, as well as their growth at school."

There have been a few frustrations. Darin sometimes has trouble effectively stepping into a parental role at school with his children's teachers without having other faculty members butt in because they assume he's just gabbing with a colleague. Haley gets frustrated when classmates suggest she only gets good grades because her dad is a teacher.

"That's kind of hard because I actually work for my grades and stuff," she says.

Gavin loves having his dad as a teacher, and his 5-year-old sister, Allie, is excited about starting kindergarten next year and being in daddy's class.

Haley, on the other hand, is ready to move on; she starts seventh grade at South Junior High in August.

"Teachers -- if you're talking in class or something -- can just walk down to his room during specials or at lunch and talk to him," she says, although Darin reminds her that she never gets in trouble at school. "I don't like it really."

It could be worse, though, right?

"Yea," Haley quickly replies. "He could be your teacher all day."

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