I’m walking to the cafeteria to get lunch, talking about exams and homework with my friend, when she nudges my arm. “Look– it’s your dad!”
“Oh,” I say, looking up to see my dad strolling by in the distance. “Cool.”
A lot of people might think that this is a cold response to this exclamation. He is, after all, my father, who cares for me and supports me in every way. But I’m over it by now. I’ve been at Collegiate for almost thirteen years, yes, but he’s been here for almost 30.
Faculty kids. You all know one. You all ask them if they like having their parents work at Collegiate. You all ask them if it’s weird to see their mom or their dad (in my case, it’s both… my dad is Middle School math teacher Rives Fleming, and my mom Student Activities Coordinator Suzanne Fleming) in the hallways. You all ask them the same few questions over and over again. But do you really know what it’s like to be a faculty kid?
As you might expect, there are disadvantages to going to school at the same place that your parents work. As soon as I would get in trouble, both parents knew before I could figure out a way to put a positive spin on things. In Middle School, I would have to listen to my friends complain that my dad’s math tests were too hard, or that he took off too many points when they wrote in pen. William Bennett (‘16), whose mother, Julie Bennett, works as a 4th grade teacher, also said that people would talk about times they had gotten in trouble in his mom’s class. “I don’t know how to respond,” he said. “It’s like… Yeah? You probably did something stupid, and it was like ten years ago, what do you want me to say?” Christy Bacon (‘16), youngest daughter of Upper School math teacher Jan Rodgers, mentioned that “people would always come to me and be like, ‘Hey I’m looking for your mom, do you know where she is?’ And I’d be like, ‘No, I don’t really know her whole schedule and where she is at all times, I’m sorry.’”
During the summer, I am always, always at school. Being a coach’s kid adds an extra layer—I often don’t leave practices until long after the lights have been shut off because my ride, who happens to be my basketball coach, won’t stop talking strategy with his assistant coaches.
“The advantages of being a faculty kid far outweigh the drawbacks,” said Bennett. I agree with him. In Lower School, I was quite possibly the coolest person in my grade, mostly thanks to my parents’ occupations. For one, I always got to meet my teacher before the highly-anticipated Meet The Teacher day, since I was a regular attendee of the annual Faculty Picnic that occurs at the end of each summer. “When I was in the Lower School, seeing my mom would always brighten my day,” Bennett said. “…I know it really makes her happy to see her son during her hard day of work.” In Middle School, all the teachers already knew me. I found my locker earlier than everyone else in the weeks I would wander the halls as my parents prepared for the coming school year. My dad was even the girl’s varsity basketball coach, so I got to go to all of the games and hang out with the team. I knew all of the players by name (and honestly could probably still rattle off most of their names today), so I was basically best friends with all the high schoolers.
Even today, there are so many advantages. Often (probably too often) I find myself making my way down to the Middle School, blank permission slip in hand for my parents to sign. I have gone to my dad’s classroom to use his credit card to send off a college application on the day of the deadline. In the days before cell phones, I never had to worry about who would be picking me up from school. My mom always keeps a stash of Cheez-Its in her office. I know the weeks leading up to winter break as the most wonderful time of the year… to be a faculty kid, because of all of the coffee cakes, cookies, pies, etc., that my parents bring home. (A note to all parents reading this: even though it’s true that faculty kids end up eating the vast majority of holiday treats for teachers, that does not at all mean that you should stop sending them. In fact, you should probably send more!)
Bacon mentioned that she feels a lot closer to her mom because they “chat sometimes during the day, catch up” and can go to school together sometimes in the morning. She also said that she is able to go into the teacher’s lounge to get food on days when it is provided, a bonus that faculty kids enjoy.
Overall, I love being a faculty kid. Just don’t expect me to be shocked when you see one or both of my parents around campus.
Photos courtesy the Fleming family.