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U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Parent-Teacher: U-High faculty navigate two worlds, roles

Clare McRoberts
Science teacher Sharon Housinger chats with her son, 9th grader Thomas Housinger, in the science office. Teachers at U-High who double as the parents of students face a unique set of challenges and inspirations in both parenting and teaching.

Walking up the stairs, English teacher Ian Taylor sees a female student approaching. Not thinking anything of it, he keeps on moving on the stairs, until the student comes into view, and the realization hits him: “Oh! That’s my daughter.”

Being a U-High faculty member and a parent of a ninth grade student at the same school causes unique challenges. But those who are filling two roles at once — parent and teacher — say the awkward moments are outweighed by the advantages: a newfound sense of compassion and understanding for students. 

Before his kids came into U-High, English teacher Ian Taylor was worried about his children coming into the high school, concerned about how the transition would be.  

“But a couple years ago, I was kind of not looking forward to it,” Mr. Taylor said. “I was sort of dreading this.”

Mr. Taylor is a parent to twin ninth graders — a boy and a girl — and he noted that their friendships are mostly of the same sex. 

“So that’s a lot of people in one grade that I already know,” he said, “and I was, like, this is a big wave coming at me where my worlds of personal life and professional life are about to collide.” 

But as this anticipated change approached, he started to look forward to it. 

“It’s so great to see them in the hall, as students,” he said. “But they’re still my kids.”

Mr. Taylor has found that having his kids in the high school has given him a greater understanding of the student experience and student mind. It’s an additional element of empathy for students, as they relate more to his own kids. 

It has even informed what he teaches. While revising the English 2 curriculum last year, Mr. Taylor faced a dilemma: keep Toni Morrison’s novel “Sula” in the curriculum or take it out? 

“I wasn’t sure, like, how some of that more adult stuff would hit students,” Mr. Taylor said. “And so I remember thinking — they were in eighth grade at the time — I can’t imagine in two years they’re going to really be ready for this. So I remembered sort of thinking about them as sort of a litmus test for ‘Sula.’”

Science teacher Sharon Housinger, parent of a ninth grader, feels she now has deeper understanding of students’ lives, allowing her to become a better adviser with her personal knowledge of classes.

“It’s less vague, more specific, like, ‘Oh, I understand how this class works because my kid was in the class,’” Ms. Housinger said. “If your actual kids have been through the class, you have more of: ‘I know what it looks like when they’re at home doing their homework.’ So you kind of feel like you become a better adviser, in addition to that kind of empathy, having more of a direct knowledge of what the students are doing.”

High school librarian Susan Augustine says she enjoys seeing her ninth grade son and his friends in the halls and the library. 

“I love it, and I love seeing all his friends, and I love seeing his fellow soccer players. It’s such a joy,” Ms. Augustine said. “It’s like a whole different level of joy of seeing those kids excited. I mean, not that I’m not excited to see other kids, too. I am, but it’s a little more personal. It feels really positive. I feel so fortunate.”

Ms. Augustine has noticed little things that have been made easier by having her child at her workplace. 

“It’s just a little bit easier to manage all of the the ways that he needs things done,” Ms. Augustine said, “or he’s come by before and been, like, ‘Oh, I forgot to get this form signed by you,’ and been able to do it in school hours and stuff. So there’s a lot of conveniences about being here with your child.”

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About the Contributors
Chloe Alexander, Arts Editor
Chloë Alexander is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as the arts editor. She joined the journalism family in the 2021-22 school year as a ninth grader and previously served as an assistant editor. Chloë enjoys journalism because it allows her to create a space for Lab students to be represented through writing. Her favorite story that she has written is “‘SOS’ showcases a wide range of styles and themes.” Outside of working on the Midway, she is a Maroon Key, plays the piano and enjoys reading. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Honorable mention, feature writing 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, news editing, headline and current events 2023 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, special coverage: (with Clare O’Connor, Amy Ren and William Tan), superior 2022 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Briefs writing, first place (with Louis Auxenfans, Joaquin Figueroa, Chloe Ma, Amy Ren, Katie Sasamoto-Kurisu), Vol. 98, Issue 8 (March 10, 2022), Page 3
Clare McRoberts, Features Editor
Clare McRoberts is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as a Assistant Editor. She began in the 2021-22 school year when she was a ninth grader. Other than writing for the Midway, she enjoys running, cooking, reading and painting. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, feature writing

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