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March 8, 2021

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

When Notre Dame Lower School held its annual spring parent-teacher conferences in March, it was unlike anything parents experienced before. Unlike the typical private one-on-one meeting with teacher and parent, the format was changed to include students and give them an opportunity to showcase their learning process.

“As an International Baccalaureate school, a large component of the Primary Years Program is having the students take responsibility for their learning,” said principal Diana Atkins. “During the student-led conference, the student shares their learning and experience with their teacher and parents. This includes strengths as well as areas to grow. It allows the teachers and parents perspective in how the student views their learning.”

To prepare for the shift, Atkins said teachers and students conducted mock conferences with peers and their teacher during the weeks leading up to the March 4-5 event. This allowed them to practice answering potential questions their parents or teacher might ask. 

Atkins said lower school faculty collaborated to determine what aspects the school would showcase during the conferences.

“They had flexibility in the format and manner students chose to showcase their work, provided it encompassed all the necessary information for students to share. As the faculty reflects on the conferences, we may make adjustments to improve the experience,” she said.

Students in core classes had 10 minutes to showcase their work. In specialty classes such as music or art, students had 5 minutes to showcase the work.

“This format allowed for all constituents to be in one place at one time talking about student progress and learning. Sharing these perspectives at once can allow for understanding areas where students articulate their challenges and dialogue to encourage and foster growth in those areas,” Atkins said.  “Traditional conferences are between adults; students do not have a voice to share their concerns on what they need to help them grow.  This format opens the door to share these thoughts.”

Atkins said the new format was well-received by parents and may be something the middle school and preparatory school implement in the future, too.

“For the first time conducting conferences in this manner it was an amazing experience for students, parents and faculty. Each participant involved learned a great deal from the student and how they view their progress in class. Teachers will use this information to encourage students to reach their potential. It was a very rewarding and positive experience,” she said.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at