Soldiers walk a mile in their child's shoes

By 1st Lt Leanne Masserini
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) PAO

Fort Hood, Texas — Crowded halls, classes, loud cafeteria, tests, popularity are a part of the life of a high school student and the distant past for parents, till now.

Killeen High School held their second annual “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” day November 17th for parents to gain a better understanding of the school life of their children. Parents of the Killeen High School students were invited to spend the day with their child, to attend and participate in classes, walk the halls, and eat lunch.

“We wanted parents to be part of the school … teachers have even included parents into the lesson,” said Michael Sibberson, principal of the Killeen High School.

Sibberson has been at the Killeen High School for 20 years and currently serving his fifth year as principal.

Sibberson and his staff started brainstorming on how they could make a connection with parents.  Let them come up here and walk with the kids for a day was the suggestion and that is when the idea of “walk a mile in my shoes” day began. 

“Walk a Mile in My Shoes” began as an experiment last year to see if parents would come, said Sibberson.  “We were so nervous last year, still nervous this year, but especially nervous last year because I didn’t know if they would come or on the other extreme I didn’t know if everyone would come.  Both would’ve been a problem. You don’t’ want them to not come but didn’t know if we were prepared for all of them to come”

Last year was a success but Sibberson was hoping to have twice as many parents attend this year event.  Killeen High School was prepared to accommodate 600-800 parents.

Turnout was less than Sibberson hoped but still an improvement from last year. Approximately 300 parents had signed in by noon and they were still showing up.

Donna Stokes, secretary in the student activities office, was one of the personnel welcoming parents to the high school.

Our staff asked for picture ID from the parents and made sure they were the legal guardian of the student.  We provided the parents with a badge, map of school, their child’s schedule, and bell schedule after signing in, said Stokes.

The parents that arrived early in the morning started the day out with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test.

I arrived at about 8:35 and signed in, said Spc Jacqueline Gonzalez, from the 13th Finance Group.  The school provided us with information about the school, information about getting kids into college, an orientation in the auditorium, we took a TAKS test, met the principal, and the discipline assistant principals.

The TAKS test was challenging but it was good, said Gonzelez.  It gave us an idea what the students have to look forward to when they take the test.

“A large percentage that came today were military,” said Sibberson.

Lt. Gen. Odierno helped support us with today which helped bring in some more military, said Sibberson.  His support in this is probably the reason our numbers our up this year.

“We have such a large military attendance with kids, it was nice to see them come out to spend some time with their kids and see the school they hear about at the dinner table.”

“Conversation at the dinner table now are not about a place that (parents) have never been. It’s about a place they know about and they can have a richer conversation about.  Takes down some of those barriers that are artificially placed there because parents are not always comfortable coming up to us,” said Sibberson.

This program has done some great things with teacher/parent relationships and parent/student relationships, said Sibberson.

The parent and student relationships were built as they walked the halls together and parents experienced what their child goes through everyday. 

It was worth it to come here and experience it with her, said Gonzalez.

“This is a very crowded school, so chiaotic.  I had no idea what she was going through just getting from one class to another, so normal for them, not normal to me,” said Gonzelez.

Her daughter, Yessenia Gonzalez, a 16 year old junior at Killeen High School said I like having her around, showing her the things I go through at school. That it’s not that easy and it’s not the same as she went to school. But it was fun, I like it.

“I think it is a good program to see what our child goes through everyday,” said Sgt. William McIntosh, ammunition NCOIC for the 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

“Back when we were in school everything was more organized. Kids were not just walking around the school,” said Mcintosh. “We can only base it off our high school days than what is going on now.”

Even if the parents didn’t show up they know they are welcome, said Sibberson. This is not a place they are not allowed to come.

Relationship building was really the focus of the day, said Sibberson. Connecting with the community and the parents that was what today was about.


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