TO: JACOBSON ELEMENTARY PARENTS September 30, 2021
FROM: MARK YOUNG, ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL
Education has always been a challenging profession and changes due to the pandemic and other pressures over the past few years are a big reason why many young people no longer choose teaching as their career. Case in point- less than two weeks ago, we received notice that our new art teacher had left our district and would not be returning to teaching. Needless to say, this came as a huge shock and is something no one in our administration had ever experienced. However, we immediately took steps to plan for both the short and long term.
Our first step was to ensure continuity in the short term; we were lucky to have an experienced substitute teacher who was able to cover our art classes for the past two weeks while we put together a plan for the next few months.
The next step was to consider our options for the remainder of the year, or until we could recruit and hire a suitable replacement or long-term substitute. We knew it was important to keep our “specials” schedule on track so that our grade level teachers have time to plan together each day while their students are in classes such as music and physical education. Finally, since we have a new technology/computer instructor in our building, this seemed like an excellent opportunity to add to the technology instruction in our upper grades.
As of today, I am happy to announce that we have a plan in place that will bridge the gap for our students and staff until we are able to interview and hire a new art teacher, understanding that this may be a process that extends until the end of the current school year.
For the next several weeks, we will have a “specials” rotation for grades 4 through 6 that will include music, P.E. and typing/computers. Grades 2 and 3 will alternate between P.E. and Music every other day. Kindergarten and First grade will have a rotation that includes P.E., Music and Guidance (with our new K-4 counselor Kaitlyn Peterson, a Belmond native). All of our elementary teachers are qualified to teach art and the art room will be available to them to teach art from now until Thanksgiving break. We have plenty of supplies and materials and I know that they will take advantage of a beautiful art room to do some fun art activities with students.
Beginning the week after Thanksgiving until Spring Break, we have hired a long-term sub with long experience substituting in elementary, who has agreed to take on the challenge of teaching art. Art will be added back to the rotation for grades K-3 every third day as it has been in the past. Art for the upper grades will also be taught by the substitute teacher, although the exact times for this may vary from grade to grade. We are leaving typing/computers in the rotation as we feel that this is vital to our long-term growth to build 21st century skills for our students.
We are also exploring additional options to support our art program, among them the purchase of art curriculum that can be taught by non-artists, “artist in residence” programs and online options provided at little or no cost by famous museums.
Rest assured that it is our stated plan and goal to advertise and hire a new art teacher and to teach art at all levels for our students now and in the future. However, as was stated in the beginning of this note, very few teachers are graduating each year, and art teachers are particularly scarce. We only ask for your patience as we navigate through this difficult time in education and that you support your students, their teachers and the staff at Belmond-Klemme Community School District moving forward. As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at Jacobson Elementary or call me at 641-430-4512.