For many students, the most interaction their parents have with Los Altos High is dropping their children off on campus and attending counselor and teacher meetings. For the Miyahara family, seeing each other on campus is a more frequent occurrence: sophomore Lauren and senior Ryan Miyahara’s parents are teachers.
Working on the same campus as one’s parents could at first seem like an awkward relationship. But the Miyahara parents — teachers Derek Miyahara and Joanne Miyahara — recognize the importance of their children’s independence.
“We’re trying to not be helicopter parents, which would be super easy to do, because you’re a teacher at their high school,” Mrs. Miyahara said. “We really try… to find that balance. Being interested and involved, but not micromanaging.”
The Miyahara parents try to ensure Lauren and Ryan’s high school experience is not significantly affected by their unique relationship. For example, the Miyahara parents avoid asking their colleagues about Lauren and actively involving themselves in Lauren and Ryan’s time at school.
“We try to make them interact with the school the same way other kids interact with the school,” Mr. Miyahara said. “If she needs to buy something through the finance office, it’s pretty easy for me to do that during my prep period… but I say, ‘You’ve got to go over there just like everybody else does.’”
Likewise, Lauren tries to stay out of her parents’ work-related discussion.
“Sometimes I’ll just hear them talking in the kitchen about what’s going on, but I don’t comment on anything,” Lauren said. “I don’t really take in any information because I know that I’m not supposed to be hearing it.”
In other cases, avoiding a conflict of interest is more complicated. There are no formal restrictions on children being assigned to a class that one of their parents teachers. If that were to happen, the Miyaharas say they would actively make their classes more difficult in hopes to eliminate any sense of favoritism. But Mr. and Mrs. Miyahara make sure they are never put in that situation.
But the boundaries that exist between family and school life do not isolate the Miyaharas from each other. They greet each other in the hallways, and knowing what goes on in each other’s lives has strengthened family bonds.
“It’s been nice to be able to talk more specifically about what goes on [at school]. I think often, if you ask ‘How was your day?’ You’ll get, ‘fine’” Mrs. Miyahara said. “It’s easier to find that common ground and have a conversation… because we have a shared experience.”
Both the parents and children have come to understand each other perspective in regards to school work. Mr. and Mrs. Miyahara have a better sense of student workloads because they see them placed on their own children. This viewpoint has made them more sensitive to issues like weekend homework and their students lives in general.
Lauren and Ryan can appreciate how much teachers care about students due to getting to know their parents’ colleagues and seeing how hard their parents work.
“When [Lauren] came on campus… she knew more teachers than she knew kids,” Mr. Miyahara said. “She would spend time in my classroom and she is Mr. Moul’s favorite Miyahara.”
“They definitely see how much time I spend grading papers, and how we really try to be there for students,” Mrs. Miyahara said. “I think they see those same kinds of qualities in their teachers and appreciate that.”
So, while many other families with two working parents may struggle to find time to bond as a family, the Miyaharas have developed a special relationship with each other as a result of sharing a campus.
“This is a really cool experience that all four of us get to share together,” Lauren said. “It’s just nice to have something to relate to as a family.”