LACEY, WA. -- Carrie Livengood uses a globe to explain to her nine year old daughter Alison where her father is deployed. Afghanistan.
It makes it challenging for Capt. Eric Livengood to attend Alison's parent-teacher conference at Chambers Prairie School in Lacey, But Alison's third grade teacher, Tom Jones, is testing an idea. How about using Skype to bring families together? Skype is a way to talk to people over the Internet for free using a web cam and microphone.
They discussed Alison's science project on stains versus detergents, her writing and she even read aloud from a story she had written. Capt. Livengood listened intently.
"I think she's improving a lot, which makes me happy," Livengood said.
"It seemed like he was right there with us, listening to the parent teacher conference," said Carrie Livengood. "He's actually involved with their schooling and lives."
"Seems like I'm sitting at the same table with them, which is really nice," said the Captain.
Teacher Tom Jones says he came up with the idea because so many parents want to participate but cannot because they are deployed overseas. "The dad who desperately wants to be here but can't, (Skype) is a great way to (include him)"
"My favorite part of my day was I was able to talk to my dad on Skype from my classroom while he was in Afghanistan," said Alison, who was able to read outloud to her father.
As the conference wrapped up Captain Livengood praised Alison and reminded her "I love you" as mom Carrie looked on. "It softens the heartbreak," she said. "Doesn't take it away, but it softens it."
The Skype conferences are being tested at Chambers Prairie and Timberline schools in the North Thurston County School District. If successful, Tom Jones hopes other school districts will use the technology as well.