Harvard professor to discuss ways to improve school relations


A don’t-miss opportunity is coming to ETHS.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a Harvard professor, is going to be lecturing at Evanston.

Lightfoot, a professor of Education at Harvard, will be visiting at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium on Sept. 30. She’ll be discussing her book and her theories, specifically how to create better parent-teacher relationships. According to Asst. Principal Marcus Campbell, Lightfoot does much leading work at Harvard concerning school-parent relations.

“Doctor Lightfoot’s visit will benefit the school in a number of ways,” said Campbell. “We’re always looking for information to increase our relationship with the parent community.”

Lightfoot’s philosophies are mostly about how parents and teachers can work together to benefit students, including ideas such as Objectivity, Ritualization, and Advocation. Although the ideas that Lightfoot addresses are parent- oriented, their main goal is to help the student.

One of Lightfoot’s concepts on how to strengthen these relationships is through students being present at parent-teacher conferences. In a PBS interview, Lightfoot said, “It’s stunning that the person who knows the most, the child, is not present at a parent/teacher conference.”

“One of the things the school can do is be more specific about bringing students along [to these conferences],” said Supt. Eric Witherspoon. “Not all parents are aware of how important it is to bring students.”

“[Bringing the student] keeps the conversation more specific to the student’s needs,” said Witherspoon. “It acts as a filter, making sure there’s an honest conversation, and provides the student an immediate feedback. They’re working as a team to benefit the student.”

According to Campbell, many parents were students at Evanston once themselves, and have continued to enroll their own children at ETHS. “A lot of the time, these parents’ relationship with the school is transferred into the students’ relationship,” said Campbell. “Teachers, administrators, and parents will all work together as a unit.”

Students are more than welcome to come to her lecture as well.

“I hope that people from the community and students will come to hear her. It’s not every day that we are this fortunate. This should be a don’t miss opportunity.”

Lightfoot is a Professor of Education at Harvard University. She has written several books, including The Essential Conversation, a book about parent-teacher relations. Lightfoot has also won several awards for her research, including being the first African-American woman at Harvard to have a scholarship named after her.