Lewis County Herald - Serving Hohenwald, Lewis County Tennessee Since 1898

By Katelin Carroll
Staff Reporter 

Student-led Conferences spark excitement in students


March 26, 2020

Katelin Carroll

Student shows his family his progress throughout the year.

Lewis County Middle School students eagerly lead their families through the halls of their school to show them where they sit, what goals they have, and what grades they had made Thursday, March 12.

Student-led conferences are a new take on the age old parent-teacher conference. However, there is one major difference: students are actually excited.

About a year ago, Brandi Feichtinger, principal of Lewis County Middle School, and her staff confronted the fact that kids dread school and they wanted to make a change.

"We wanted to be a school where kids were knocking down the doors to get in, not out," said Feigchtinger. "But if kids make failing grades, and that's how they're defined, they're not going to want to be here."

That is when they began to hear about student-led conferences, which put kids in charge of their own learning by allowing them to keep up with their grades in their own personal data notebooks, containing their grades.

Students are encouraged to communicate with their teachers and set goals for themselves to improve their grades.

Once it comes time for parents to meet their child's teachers, the students can lead their parents around to classrooms and have open conversations about their grades and goals for the year.

"You know, it's teaching them about life," said one parent, "Before you'd just get this packet and it doesn't really mean much, but when you get the kids explaining why they didn't get things done it's teaching them accountability."

Paired with the conference is an opportunity to purchase tickets to dine at the cafeteria. The money for the tickets goes towards a local charity, picked by Feichtinger and her staff.

This year's spaghetti dinner benefited Davis House Child Advocacy Center, who serves abused children in the Lewis County area.

The idea behind having a fundraiser, said Feichtinger, was to have the school also be a place where the kids can grow in their community and give back to it.

Katelin Carroll

Teacher, Samantha Webb, helping to clean dishes at the spaghetti dinner.

"It all begins to culminate into the fact that the baseline is families and love. Love for families and then love for their community," Feichtinger said.

The students ended up selling over 400 tickets.

It took hours to prepare all the spaghetti that would be needed, but with the help of people like lunch-lady Becky Miller, they stood up to the challenge.

The teachers, of course, offered another incentive for students to bring their families to the conference. If they have 140 people come out for the dinner and conference, then teachers would volunteer to be in a dunking booth.

Feichtinger and teacher Samantha Webb said this program has made all the difference.

"The kids are just so excited to show how much they've grown," said Webb.


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