Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More toothpaste batiks, and some news REVISED

(The batiks first, and I'll tell you the news after the photos) The batik on the left above may be my favorite. It was done by a sweet Down Syndrome 5th grade girl and I am so proud of her.

In the next two, the one on the right really cracks me up. Why did he think he needed to label the sun?! Too cute!

A few more... Actually the unicorn on the right below is not quite done - I'm sure the artist will be putting a black pupil in the eye.

Blogger insists the next two need to be sideways. I'm not sure what that black thing is next to the dragon on the right. It looks like a stoplight, doesn't it? I don't think that's what it is.

And now for the news...

As of last night, my replacement has been officially appointed. I've known about it for a while, but I didn't feel I could say anything until it was official. But no, it is not Art Teacher Barbie.

The school district posted the job when I told them I was going to retire, but they never actually conducted any interviews. Instead they hired from within our staff.

The new art teacher has been teaching in the district for a number of years now, as our elementary computer teacher and in the past couple of years also doing some technology training with older kids. Her tenure area, however has been elementary. So when they decided they were going to cut her program, she could have chosen to become an elementary classroom teacher, but she would have "bumped" our least senior elementary teacher. The district was aware that she had art certification, so they offered her the opportunity to take my job. She taught art early in her career for a year, but has not since then, though she has worked with kids in summer camp programs and more.

My opinions are rather layered.

First of all, the new art teacher is a coworker and friend, and I know she is bright, hard-working, and capable, and she has the advantage of knowing all the kids, knowing the quirks of our little school district, and wanting to make this work. Like me, her kids are grown, so she, like me, should have the time to give the job her best. I'm sure she'll do well, though it will be a surprise for the kids to see someone they've known in one role suddenly become something completely different, and I expect they may challenge it at first. It will be a challenge for the teachers as well. They will be on their own with computer instruction. There are many things outside of the actual teaching that she has done for years that will have to be taken over by someone else - from putting class lists on the network "staff common", to making the graduation videos for the 8th grade and kindergarten, to creating the PowerPoint for the monthly Character Ed assemblies. And teaching art after such a long absence will be a very new experience for her, and I'm sure she will face challenges, especially dealing with those presented by the Common Core and Race to the Top.

So, dear new art teacher/friend, if you happen across this post, what I am about to say is not about you; it's about the way the hiring was done. I'm confident that you will do great, and I know that the elementary staff will support you wholeheartedly. BUT - but I am appalled that the administration/board of education didn't think that, when hiring a replacement for someone who has built a solid & respected program over 27 years, that at least there should be an INTERVIEW, with questions such as: "what strengths or types of expertise do you bring to this position to make you the best possible candidate? I'm appalled that the administration NEVER ONCE consulted with me or informed me about the decision they were making, which in several instances put me in a very awkward position. As a matter of fact, I feel that they have been avoiding me completely. Not a word. I'm insulted, and feel a bit hurt that they didn't feel that I should be included in the process. It's basically all about money, and nothing more. I do not feel like they care about the art program at all. (And again, that does NOT mean that the new art teacher will not do a great job; I'm confident she will, and I look forward to hearing about her successes in the coming year. Hopefully she'll be more organized than me and the room won't look like such a disaster a year from now!)


As of this morning, I don't actually know WHO will be teaching art in my place next year. When she agreed to take the job, she was promised some guarantees about job security, since she was leaving one tenure area with seniority for another where she will be least senior. But the written guarantees haven't quite materialized in the fashion they were promised. So we're in limbo. I feel so bad for her, to be put in this position, but her job security is paramount. So I'll keep you all posted, and in the meantime I'll keep waiting to find out who will be getting the keys to the art room..... Sigh.

And finally, I'm sure you all have heard today of the death of Maurice Sendak. Here's my favorite line from my favorite of his books (actually one of my all-time favorite children's books), In the Night Kitchen:
Mr. Sendak, we will miss you.


  1. I love the toothpaste batiks! I may have to try them just to get the nice smell in my art room. I do a similar look using flour and alum paste that also gives excellent results. I have enjoyed your blog and follow you on pinterest. You have inspired me to try to have more of a web presence, but time always slips away from me. I spend way too many extra hours at school, and any other time I have I spend on my own creative endeavors. I am going to miss you as an art educator. Your students have been so fortunate to have had you all these years. No doubt you have touched the lives of countless children and opened their eyes to new ways of looking at the world. What is happening at your school, as it relates to hiring, is so typical of what can happen; and it is so sad, and also infuriating. So often a person can just “slide” into a position. Sometimes the slide can occur because of a program cut; sometime the slide can occur because a full time position opens up to a part time person, etc. Hiring is so important. Shouldn’t an administrator want the best candidate for any position that is available?? And certainly shouldn’t the administrator call upon the expertise and assistance of the respected employee leaving the position?? ABSOLUTELY!! You have been wronged. It seems to be the ways and woes of our current state of affairs in Education in this country. As you stated, the person that got hired for your position, may well do a great job and hopefully will be excited and up for the challenge. But you really should have been consulted. Really, really. And in my opinion, if her art room is neatly organized next year; someone better go in and mess it up!

  2. Phyl, I know it's hard not to take it personally, but I think it is quite common. When I was hired at my first position, the art teacher had been there for 25-30 years and she was not part of the interviewing process. Just the principal and superintendent interviewed me. I have no idea why? It makes sense to us to have an art person on the interview board, right?

  3. Grrrrr,i hate the whole "bumping" process, as it happens here. I am coordinating a HUGE art show with all our area schools at the local art center and was looking at a school that had "hired from within" and replaced two VERY dynamic teachers. the work was nowhere near the same. the kids will notice it, too, which is the worst part!

    all you can do is give her the reins and trust that she takes the program in the same wonderful direction you have taken it...and ENJOY RETIREMENT!

  4. Off subject...sorta. Do you have an email address so I may contact you?

  5. No one will fill your shoes. Or clogs!

    Hey, but what's wrong with having young kids??? For the record Stella wants to know! ;)

    1. Hee hee. Nothing wrong with young kids. I guess my statement didn't really make sense. I worked hard when my Ben was young and honestly, I was even union president for most of his school years, starting with kindergarten so I don't really know what I meant. Anyhow, tell sweet Stella if she was in my house waiting I wouldn't have been in school until 7:00 pm name-tagging artwork for the show. Not that ANYONE should be in school that late.

  6. Why do we, as special area teachers, keep bending over and taking this kind of abuse? I just don't understand how administrators can look anyone in the eye after that kind of a bonehead move! And, I don't understand how your subject area determines you district seniority? In my district, your seniority is based on your years in the district, not what subject you teach. Is that a New York state thing or just local in your district? I feel bad for you, Phyl, but worse for your friend who's being jerked around. Who will take her place as the technology person? Weird....


    1. In NY there are tenure areas, mine being "K-12 art". There is a tenure/seniority list kept for each tenure area. It makes sense to me, really, because your position is determined by your tenure area.

      As far as the tech person, she taught elementary computer classes, but with all the laptops in the school there is less need for a centralized computer lab, so much will be done by the elementary teachers themselves. The postition of elementary computer teacher is being discontinued. We do and will still have a district technology coordinator and her staff of two that manages the network and all things computer and printer related that do not involve direct teaching of kids. The computer teacher also teaches a middle school tech certification class (I'm not sure what it is officially called) but with a dropping enrollment, the middle school math teacher will take on the tech certification class.

      I've been in the district for 27 years, and was union president for 10, so I have worked directly with our administration many times and in this whole endeavor they have avoided me completely. The superintendent, who used to always rave and support me, now, I swear, disappears if he sees me in the neighborhood. I think it is a guilty conscience.