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Archive for Monday, October 13, 2008

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Hillcrest PTO president Betsy Six juggles full plate

Betsy Six, right, shares a laugh with her youngest son, Will, 3, while her husband, Steve Six, unpacks groceries. Betsy Six is president of the Hillcrest School Parent Teacher Organization and also works for Kansas University's School of Law.

Betsy Six, right, shares a laugh with her youngest son, Will, 3, while her husband, Steve Six, unpacks groceries. Betsy Six is president of the Hillcrest School Parent Teacher Organization and also works for Kansas University's School of Law.

October 13, 2008

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Betsy Six, center, and children Henry, 6, Sam, 8, and Emily, 10, play basketball at their Lawrence home. Six volunteers at Hillcrest School, where three of her children attend, and also is an instructor at Kansas University's School of Law.

Betsy Six, center, and children Henry, 6, Sam, 8, and Emily, 10, play basketball at their Lawrence home. Six volunteers at Hillcrest School, where three of her children attend, and also is an instructor at Kansas University's School of Law.



Get organized!

Tips from Betsy Six on staying on top of family, work and more:

¢ My husband and I do use the Google calendar. It allows us to access a shared calendar from work or home.¢ E-mail also helps us coordinate who is doing what, with a written record we can refer to later. I particularly like e-mail because it allows me to communicate with my husband without worrying about interrupting him during his day.¢ We also try (not always successfully) to get the kids to help. They are responsible for putting their backpacks and lunchboxes away and putting their homework in certain places.

Every day, Betsy Six knows her children learn a little more about the huge world around them. And it's not just from classwork or reading - it's because they attend Hillcrest School, which serves as one of the Lawrence school district's English as a Second Language sites.

"It's hard to even express all of the benefits of it," says Six, who serves as president of Hillcrest's Parent Teacher Organization. "It exposes you to the world at a very early age in a very real way.

"My kids think it's horrible that we only speak one language."

Hillcrest is more than the school that three of her children - Emily, 10, Sam, 8, and Henry, 6 - attend. It's also the school where Six learned some life lessons of her own as a child.

"Being 8 and having friends from all different countries and religions and shapes, colors, sizes is something that you can't replace at some later time," she says. "It helps people appreciate diverse culture and become more tolerant in a way that I think is unique."

Her involvement with Hillcrest's PTO has grown with her children.

"It's been a great way for me to know what they're doing and what's going on in the school," she says. "Once you start going you just kind of get sucked in."

Six's volunteer work has included helping in Hillcrest classrooms and serving as her daughter's Girl Scout troop leader. But as a parent of four, including 3-year-old son Will, she realizes it can be challenging to find time to get involved.

As a mom who has worked part time since the birth of her first child, Six knows the push and pull between career and family. She said her current job, as a lawyering instructor at Kansas University's School of Law, offers an easier fit than her previous work at a Kansas City law firm.

"One of the challenges is that you feel you don't do either job well," she said. "You aren't a good mother, but you also don't give enough time to your job. But I feel that less teaching. My job is a part-time job. I don't do it on a part-time basis."

However, the g-word is always lurking.

"Your kids want you all the time and they make you feel guilty when you're not there all the time. We all have a tendency to agree with that guilt even though we know that it's not realistic and we know they're fine without us," she said. "As they've gotten older it's gotten easier."

She also realizes she has been lucky to be able to choose whether and how much to work, because money didn't weigh into the family's decision. The Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays she spends at work offer her a chance to interact with adults and use her education.

"I feel like I'm a better parent because I've had time away. I come back more refreshed," Six said. "I'm better in the evenings when I've been at work than the days when I'm home with them."

Evenings are also made easier thanks to her husband, Steve, who cooks dinner every night for the family when he's not busy with his duties as Kansas attorney general.

"I think that's in part in why I have four children, because I have a helpful husband," she said. "Most women don't have as helpful a husband as I do."

Together she and Steve enjoy watching their kids grow and learn, Six said, and are continually entertained by the roller coaster that is parenting.

"So much of it is out of your control," she said. "You try to teach the children things, to shape them, to mold them. I have four children and see how different they are. It makes me realize how much is out of my control. And that's frightening. It's also what makes it so interesting and challenging and exciting."

Comments

mwwkw 5 years, 6 months ago

Denak: You seem to be implying that a story about a less-affluent and less-privileged family couldn't be "nice"? And why do you presume that such a story couldn't be about a family that is "functioning well"? Besides - no one said the story wasn't "nice" - it's just boring. The "tips" are nonsensical -- kids should put away their backpacks REGARDLESS of whether their parents both work or not! C'mon! That's basic child-raising 101! Don't get me wrong - Betsy & Steve Six sound like awesome, caring, happy people! But the heart of the story should have been something fuller, something with a lesson or some inspiration. No, not every piece has to be Pulitzer Prize worthy, but it ought to have some import - perhaps if this was one in a series of stories about how a variety of families handle "modern life" then it would be an interesting look at a cross-section of Lawrence life. As it is, it's sort of just a congratulatory piece. If this is the new "GO!" section of the LJWorld, then count me GONE!

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Bobby1 5 years, 6 months ago

Dena: Some of us find it a little belittling to have a wealthy law professor with 4 kids give people "tips" like use email or have your kids help. That's not a positive or helpful story.

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George_Braziller 5 years, 6 months ago

So what's the point of the article? Are we supposed to feel sorry for her trying to balance a part-time job with taking care of her kids? My mom did that 40+ years ago except she worked full time, had two bambinos 13 months apart, did all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, while my dad worked his ass off as a carpenter. We always had three meals a day together cooked from scratch. I really don't know how she did it all."As a mom who has worked part time since the birth of her first child, Six knows the push and pull between career and family. She said her current job, as a lawyering instructor at Kansas University's School of Law, offers an easier fit than her previous work at a Kansas City law firm."

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frankiej65 5 years, 6 months ago

Isn't her husband the Attorney General?Maybe that makes it easier to take a day off....Would love to see a pic when she is yelling at the kids and mad at her husband for sitting on his duff all day.

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denak 5 years, 6 months ago

Who cares if this is a 'fluff piece." Not every article written in a newspaper needs to be Pulitizer Prize worthy.Sometimes, it is just enough to read something nice. With all the negative things written about the state of the American family, I for one find it refreshing to read an article about a family that is functioning well.Dena

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Bob Forer 5 years, 6 months ago

I am sure they are very nice people with a lovely family. but so what. They certainly don't live like your average American. Where's the "news" here? MWWKW couldn't have said it better. .

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sunflower97 5 years, 6 months ago

What a great family! I am happy to see the fridge looks as cluttered as ours. I love the tip about the Google Calendar. I am going to check it out.

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JazzEgle 5 years, 6 months ago

I think this qualifies her to be VP

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nobody1793 5 years, 6 months ago

"Perhaps you should read the actual newspaper."If they make it the top banner headline of ljworld.com, they think it is the most important news story. I would't pay 10 cents for thier print copy.

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mwwkw 5 years, 6 months ago

So "lifestyle" is just a synonym for... what? "Lack of substance?" Okay... Fair enough, but then this story still fails because it doesn't TELL us anything -- how exactly does the Six family manage their schedules? how exactly does Betsy Six deal with the "g-word?" And why doesn't teh story ask the same question about her husband? If this is to be a "lifestyles" story, then tell us about their LIFESTYLE. (Other than the three tips in teh sidebar.) And since when is NON-affluence not a LIFESTYLE?!?!

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Robert Rauktis 5 years, 6 months ago

"She said her current job, as a lawyering instructor at Kansas University's School of Law,"Lawyers have a school?

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geniusmannumber1 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm sorry. You're reading an article that appears in the LJW "lifestyle magazine" and complaining that it lacks substance? Perhaps you should read the actual newspaper.

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Ken Miller 5 years, 6 months ago

Agreed. How about pulling someone from under the KS. River Bridge and doing an in-depth piece about how they got there? That would be a lot tougher story, but the potential rewards to the readership would be far greater - because I'm willing to bet that in this economy, more of us are closer to living under a bridge than under the roof of a 4000 sq. ft. home.

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mwwkw 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm sort of confused about what this story is about -- from the first paragraph, I thought it was going to be about the ESL curriculum at Hillcrest, how that helps some children learn that the world is an amazing, diverse place -- THAT should be the focus of the story -- diversity! But it basically turned into a nice but boring piece about a socioeconomically advantaged and highly educated family living in what look like really nice living quarters - where's the conflict? where's the human interest? where's the part that hooks me and teaches me about the world? A well-off white woman is privileged enough to work part-time and be with her family -- great! That's super! But... so? Lawrence is full of those... The real story is the folks who DO NOT have the option to work part-time as law professors, who do not have Attorney General husbands who cook dinner, who do not have a large home to spread out in -- the ones for whom life is REALLY "out of control" like "a roller coaster." I'm happy for the Six family that they are successful and clearly full of love! How about a story on the other side of teh white picket fence?

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Bobby1 5 years, 6 months ago

Really? Is this news? Or even interesting?

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Horace 5 years, 6 months ago

A total puff piece, but she deserves it.Prof. Six rules.

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