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In a room full of fifth-graders taking Anita Williams' art class at Spring Grove Area Intermediate School sat a group of mothers in a back corner observing a lesson on famous artists.

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"What is Picasso known for?" asked Williams. No immediate response.

The parents looked intently before one student raised his hand and correctly answered cubism.

While it might not sound like much, parents say being a fly on the wall in the classroom goes a long way toward understanding their child's education.

The visitation session is one of several that took place at Spring Grove Intermediate School as part of American Education Week celebrations at school districts across the country.

Parents sat with their children in group reading sessions, observed art lessons and even ran with their children during gym class in an afternoon visiting session Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Spring Grove resident Noelia Vastardis said she always asks her fifth-grade son Ryan how his day at school went and gets the typical "good" response, but sitting in his classroom gives her a deeper understanding of how he spends his day away from home.

Vastardis also visited New Salem Elementary, where her first-grader, Adrian, goes to school. She said the classroom visits opened her eyes at how advanced schooling is compared to her time in primary school.

"There are things I didn't learn probably until later in middle school," she said.

Spring Grove Area Intermediate has been inviting parents to visit classrooms for more than 20 years, according to Principal Craig Seelye.

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"Students love to display their work and show their parents what they are learning in school," he said. "To see the children’s faces light up when their parents enter the classroom is very rewarding."

Seelye added that the chance to see a portion of their child's school day allows parents to "better link school and home life."

Perhaps that is why many parents repeat their visits each year.

Jessica and Ryan Yingling, both of Spring Grove, have taken days off from work over the past six years to visit their son Jacob's classrooms each year from kindergarten through fifth grade.

They spent the 75 minutes allowed by the school to visit Jacob's social studies and math classes as well as his gym class.

Jessica Yingling said she was most impressed by the implementation of technology in the classroom.

"The things (Jacob) does with his iPad — I don't understand," she said. "He does it all so fast."

Yingling said she and her husband like to visit the school to keep an eye on the investment they made when they decided to buy a house in the district. 

The verdict?

"I'm very happy with his education at Spring Grove," she said.

Reach education reporter Junior Gonzalez via email at jgonzalez@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter @EducationYD.

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