When Johnny comes home from Dixon Middle School saying he has forgotten his homework assignment, his parents now can call a recorded message from his teacher to help him remember.
The school, at 750 W. 200 North, has installed a phone system called "Education Home-line" that permits parents to call in 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get the latest on what was taught in their child's classroom."The primary purpose is to allow parents to find out their child's homework assignment and what they learned in school that day," said Kevin Custer, director of technology for International Voice Exchange, the Salt Lake company that sold Dixon the system.
The system lets teachers leave daily messages about what was discussed in class and what, if any, outside work was assigned.
Parents and teachers seem to think it's a good concept.
"I think it's a great opportunity for more communication between the school and the home," said Karil Johnson, a math teacher.
"This age group particularly has a hard time communicating with parents," English teacher Jean McPherron said.
Principal Bob Gentry said it will help parents become a "partner to what's going on here at school."
The system also includes a line with general school information.
"The emphasis of it is to get parents involved in the education process," Custer said. The call-in program "shifts some responsibility to parents" for their child's education, he said.
"If it does what they say it's going to do, I am going to like it a lot," said Joni Lowe, whose son will attend Dixon next year.
And what do students think about it?
"It's good for parents, but if you're doing bad, it's not very good for you," said Amy Perkins, an eighth-grader. She said parents might use it to "inspire" children to do better.
Kelly Clark, also an eighth-grader, said it will probably "help us with our grades."
And seventh-grader Craig Evans said, "It's fine with me. I usually don't have homework."
A similar system was implemented at Springville's Westside Elementary School at the beginning of the current school year.
The Westside system provides information on homework assignments, classroom study topics, lunch menus, school policies and upcoming activities. It also has a call-out feature that allows teachers to transmit individualized messages to students' homes. Parents can also leave messages for teachers who are able to respond back through the system.
Custer said the Dixon system has those capabilities also and will be put on line as parents and teachers become more comfortable with it.
The system retails for $10,000 plus $1,000 per phone line, Custer said. Four lines are capable of handling Dixon's 1,000 students. More lines will be needed as more features are added, he said.