Mixing home and school

For some teachers, every day is ‘”Bring Your Kid To Work Day.”


Susan Herrmann

Junior Nick Herrmann takes a picture with his mom, math teacher Susan Herrmann, in her classroom.

For most students, their seven hours a day at school are a time away from their parents and families, and a time where students spread their wings and develop their individual identities. But for some students, their parents are teachers in the building. 

Math teacher Scott Degitz-Fries has had all three of his kids go to South. Two have already graduated, and one, Hayden, is currently a senior. He said his experience at South has been impacted in some ways by having his children go here, but not as much in others.

“The school is big enough that they don’t really have to see me unless they want to. Most times they only come to my room if they need a signature, a bottle of water, or food. But conversely, if I need to talk to them or find out something from them they are close by and I can find them. As a parent, it’s also nice to be able to keep tabs on if they’re in the right place at the right time. We are always on the same schedule in terms of days off and time to start and finish school. If any of my kids misbehaved I would find out immediately– many times Caleb’s teachers just walked him to my room and we discussed his issues right then and there,” said Mr. Degitz-Fries.

Similarly to his dad, Degitz’ son Hayden said he also feels as if they see each other only when wanted or needed.

“I can get food and water from his classroom. If I need something signed he’s right there,” said Degitz. 

The Degitz kids could have gone to a different school, but his dad said he chose to enroll them at South. 

“I moved to the South district after I already had a child. I moved here because I believed Parkway had a level of excellence in education I wanted my children to get and specifically moved to South’s district because I trust the teachers and staff here to get my children ready to be successful at college. I couldn’t see trusting any other school with my kids’ education than the one I put my heart and soul into every day,” said Mr. Degitz-Fries. 

The Degitz duo not only sees each other in passing, but Mr. Degitz-Fries is also Hayden’s Calculus teacher, and has been all of his other kids’ calculus teachers as well. 

“I don’t treat them differently than any other kid in the class (they would all tell you I’m harder on them and expect perfect behavior from them and not others). I never give them any more help than any other student in the class or any more test prep than kids who come in after school or in lab to help. It’s important to me that my other students know that my own kids don’t get more help than they do so they know I keep it fair. It would be detrimental to my own kids if I helped them more because then they would just be unprepared for college and not succeed there so it wouldn’t make any logical sense. I’ve given my own kids C’s before – they get what they get. A grade tells how prepared you are coming out of a class whether your parent is the teacher or not,” said Mr. Degitz-Fries. 

Hayden would also say that he enjoys having his dad as a teacher.

“I like having him as a teacher because he’s a good teacher and I understand him since I’ve listened to him all my life,” said Hayden. 

Hayden says that the one downside of having his dad as a teacher is that people think that he gets special treatment.

“Sometimes people think I get good grades because of him,” said Hayden.

Mr. Degitz-Fries agrees that some think that he gives his kids special treatment, but he also adds that the way he teaches will not change despite having his kid in his class.

“Sometimes I feel bad for my kids because other students associate them with me and they have to deal with ‘your dad gives too much homework’ or ‘your dad’s class is hard’ or stuff like that–as if they have any control over that. I want my students to be prepared and succeed. Nothing can or will change that. I have found a formula for success over the years and won’t change it because my son goes here.”

Both Degitz’ would also agree that they would not change having their family member in the South.

“I love it and am happy I made the choice to live in the South district,” said Mr. Degitz-Fries. 

Another parent-child duo that goes to South are Nick Herrmann and his mom Susan Herrmann. Math teacher Susan Herrmann has three kids who currently attend South, freshman Grace Herrmann, junior Nick Herrmann, and senior Sam Herrmann. Her husband, Mike Herrmann,  also teaches science in the building, 

“I do my very best to stay out of their day-to-day business so that their experiences at South are as close to normal as possible,” said Mrs. Herrmann.

Her son, junior Nick Herrmann, said having both of his parents at South is an unique experience. 

“Having parents at South has definitely been a unique feeling, as their work is my peers’ education,” he said. 

Nick said South feels more “homey” since his parents work there. 

“Having parents at South really makes the school feel like a second home, as I have been roaming the halls since I was little so I went into South relatively oriented and having pre existing connections with faculty,” Nick said. 

Mrs. Herrmann says that her kids ending up attending the same school that she works at was somewhat by chance, but both Herrmann parents also wanted them to go here for multiple different reasons. 

Originally, our kids would have gone to Marquette.  We moved to South’s attendance area over the summer of 2012.  I was at West at the time but South has always been my “home” where I felt at peace because my colleagues here are truly like family! So, I would say that my kids ended up going to where I happened to work. Honestly, Mr. Herrmann was quite passionate about making sure our kids got their science education in Parkway rather than Rockwood because they were more likely to get an experiential science education rather than working out of packets.  So, he was the big push behind us getting our kids into Parkway schools.”

Nick said he wouldn’t change his parents working at South if he had the chance, 

“Being able to learn in a safe space and a friendly environment is super freeing. Although sometimes I wish I could see what it was like for the rest of the student body, going to a separate space than your parents.”

Mrs. Hermann said the same thing, 

“I love having my kiddos here with me!” she said.

Nick explains the “special treatment” people might expect he gets due to the fact his parents work at South. 

“I don’t see it often. Most of the time it leads to teachers expecting highly of me purely by the fact of being the son of two teachers, and I strive for this, but do not always achieve expectation,” Nick said.

In addition to the Hermann kids who already attend South, there is another one who will be here in two years.

“5 Herrmanns in 1 building is pretty awesome!  We have 1 more kiddo to make it up here though!  Nate, is a seventh grader at Southwest Middle!” Mrs Herrmann said. 

All in all, the two South families agree that the primary focus of school is education, despite the fact that they constantly have their family members around. 

In school my professionalism has to trump my parenting. This is my job and I want every student to succeed at the next step in their education,” said Mr. Degitz-Fries.