Middle Schoolers Take Advantage of Student-Led Conferences


Mr. Crisafi

Math Department Chair Mrs. Cathy Hansen helps out one of her advisees, Jane Boyland, during math class.

TBS encourages leadership. The School has Student-Council, student-produced TED Talks, and all middle schoolers are expected to live up to the Honor Code and the expectations of the 12 TBS character traits. In addition, the Student-Led Conferences, held each year after the first quarter, offer a great opportunity for students to be leaders through the academic process . During these conferences, each student sits down with his/her  advisor and parents to discuss grades, establish goals for the next quarter, and talk about areas where they can improve.

Student Services Counselor Ms. Danielle Benvenuto believes Student-Led Conferences are important “because they [are] an integral part of academic success.”

Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy explained how students find success through these conferences.

“We’re teaching the skills of self-advocacy and leadership,” said Hagy, “and there’s no better way to do that than to actually take control and manage your own academic life at school, and the Student-Led Conferences are the beginning of that.”

Unlike the Lower School, where parents and teachers sit down without the students, the Middle School allows students to lead the conference so they can be part of the experience and take an active role in establishing their academic goals.

The conferences were new for the sixth graders as this is their first year in Middle School, but many of them felt it was a positive experience.

“It’s a good experience for the students who get to realize their mistakes, strengths and weaknesses, talk about them and share them, and talk about goals and ways to improve,” said sixth grader Cade Crisafi.

“I liked [the conference] because I got to express myself and how I actually felt about school,” said fellow sixth grader Izzy Casher. “It made me want to do better in school. I felt motivated,” she said.

Student-Led Conferences have been mandatory for a few years, but while some TBS students enjoy it, others do not.

“I don’t think kids need to lead the conference,” said seventh grader Anthony Pace. “It is not really necessary for us to do it, and I think the teachers could do it much better. In my conference, I was just there, and my advisor was really the one making the plan.”

Some students believe that the conferences should only be necessary if the student is struggling academically.

“I don’t find [the conferences]  that useful, but if a student actually needs help, then it should be mandatory for them,” said fellow seventh grader Jasper Wright. “It shouldn’t be mandatory for kids with good grades.”

Whether students enjoyed the experience or not, most students were happy to have a day off in the middle of the week after their conferences were over.

“I relaxed a little bit, went to youth group, and did homework,” said Crisafi.

Student-Led Conferences are important for students to identify their strengths and weaknesses, make their own goals, hold themselves accountable, and discuss plans for future improvement. They are also great for parents as they get a feel for how their child is doing academically.