Friday, December 5, 2014

MAINTAIN THE 5 TO 8 RULE IN OHIO 


I am brought here today out of a sense of obligation to the nearly 600 children that I teach weekly at two schools. I am here for them, and I am here for me. I am here because I have devoted the last 8 years of my life to becoming the teacher I am today, their art teacher. And I don’t know what some of my students would do if I wasn’t their art teacher; their emotional and creative outlet, their place to shine, my classroom their imagination station and a connecting thread, integrating core subjects.
If the 5 of 8 rule is removed my fear is that the heart and soul of schools, especially high incidence schools like my own, will be removed and classroom teachers will be left alone with these children, many of them wounded and needing special care. Classroom teachers will be without assistance from the essential skills and expertise of knowledgeable professionals whose jobs are now at risk, all of whom make lasting relationships with children on different levels than classroom teachers. Classroom teachers will be overburdened.
At my school the art teacher takes the pulse of the school so to speak, through the artwork of the children. I’m constantly listening to my students, all 550 of them, in the most intimate way. The kids give me windows to their souls, their home life, their academics, and their mental health, through their art making, and with it I can take a reading on their needs and make recommendations to our school nurse, counselor and social worker with concerns for my students’ well-being if one arises. Only yesterday a student created artwork in which he expressed suicidal thoughts which related to a classmate’s self-harm earlier in the year and have raised my concern. I had lunch with him today and I have alerted his mother and the counselor, so that he may get some help. Without myself and my colleagues, I ask what would happen to this boy? Would he fall between the cracks? Would he do something unspeakable? Would anyone show him they cared?
An example of this system working with success was last April, while I was working on my GEM Girls Empowerment Mural with a small group of girls. While placing mosaic tiles, some of the girls casually began talking about sexual harassment, since we were discussing girls’ empowerment. One mentioned something about her home life that caught my attention. I made a point to have lunch with her and speak to her more in depth about it and found that she was being abused at home by her step-dad, she and I worked together to go to the social worker and decided together to contact children services and she and I wrote a letter to her mother concerning the issue. This was her form of empowerment, freeing herself from her abuser. I hope I am making my point here, I am a trusted ally to my students, this is a relationship I have built by means of hard work and through it I work with my colleagues to advocate for their health and safety and of course, their education. These are just two of many similar stories in my school in which art has acted as a life preserver to a student who was at risk of much more than just academic failure. I am not alone, many other art educators are like me, and music teachers, physical education teachers, librarians, school nurses, social workers and counselors, we make a difference, we are n I am brought here today out of a sense of obligation to the nearly 600 children that I teach weekly at two schools. I am here for them, and I am here for me. I am here because I have devoted the last 8 years of my life to becoming the teacher I am today, their art teacher. And I don’t know what some of my students would do if I wasn’t their art teacher; their emotional and creative outlet, their place to shine, my classroom their imagination station and a connecting thread, integrating core subjects.
If the 5 of 8 rule is removed my fear is that the heart and soul of schools, especially high incidence schools like my own, will be removed and classroom teachers will be left alone with these children, many of them wounded and needing special care. Classroom teachers will be without assistance from the essential skills and expertise of knowledgeable professionals whose jobs are now at risk, all of whom make lasting relationships with children on different levels than classroom teachers. Classroom teachers will be overburdened.
At my school the art teacher takes the pulse of the school so to speak, through the artwork of the children. I’m constantly listening to my students, all 550 of them, in the most intimate way. The kids give me windows to their souls, their home life, their academics, and their mental health, through their art making, and with it I can take a reading on their needs and make recommendations to our school nurse, counselor and social worker with concerns for my students’ wellbeing if one arises. Only yesterday a student created artwork in which he expressed suicidal thoughts which related to a classmate’s self-harm earlier in the year and have raised my concern. I had lunch with him today and I have alerted his mother and the counselor, so that he may get some help. Without myself and my colleagues, I ask what would happen to this boy? Would he fall between the cracks? Would he do something unspeakable? Would anyone show him they cared?
An example of this system working with success was last April, while I was working on my GEM Girls Empowerment Mural with a small group of girls. While placing mosaic tiles, some of the girls casually began talking about sexual harassment, since we were discussing girls’ empowerment. One mentioned something about her home life that caught my attention. I made a point to have lunch with her and speak to her more in depth about it and found that she was being abused at home by her step-dad, she and I worked together to go to the social worker and decided together to contact children services and she and I wrote a letter to her mother concerning the issue. This was her form of empowerment, freeing herself from her abuser. I hope I am making my point here, I am a trusted ally to my students, this is a relationship I have built by means of hard work and through it I work with my colleagues to advocate for their health and safety and of course, their education. These are just two of many similar stories in my school in which art has acted as a life preserver to a student who was at risk of much more than just academic failure. I am not alone, many other art educators are like me, and music teachers, physical education teachers, librarians, school nurses, social workers and counselors, we make a difference, we are not expendable, and I am not replaceable by a classroom teacher who is already overburdened by testing. Please vote to support the emotional growth and well being of Ohio’s young people, maintain the 5 of 8 rul I am brought here today out of a sense of obligation to the nearly 600 children that I teach weekly at two schools. I am here for them, and I am here for me. I am here because I have devoted the last 8 years of my life to becoming the teacher I am today, their art teacher. And I don’t know what some of my students would do if I wasn’t their art teacher; their emotional and creative outlet, their place to shine, my classroom their imagination station and a connecting thread, integrating core subjects.
If the 5 of 8 rule is removed my fear is that the heart and soul of schools, especially high incidence schools like my own, will be removed and classroom teachers will be left alone with these children, many of them wounded and needing special care. Classroom teachers will be without assistance from the essential skills and expertise of knowledgeable professionals whose jobs are now at risk, all of whom make lasting relationships with children on different levels than classroom teachers. Classroom teachers will be overburdened.
At my school the art teacher takes the pulse of the school so to speak, through the artwork of the children. I’m constantly listening to my students, all 550 of them, in the most intimate way. The kids give me windows to their souls, their home life, their academics, and their mental health, through their art making, and with it I can take a reading on their needs and make recommendations to our school nurse, counselor and social worker with concerns for my students’ wellbeing if one arises. Only yesterday a student created artwork in which he expressed suicidal thoughts which related to a classmate’s self-harm earlier in the year and have raised my concern. I had lunch with him today and I have alerted his mother and the counselor, so that he may get some help. Without myself and my colleagues, I ask what would happen to this boy? Would he fall between the cracks? Would he do something unspeakable? Would anyone show him they cared?
An example of this system working with success was last April, while I was working on my GEM Girls Empowerment Mural with a small group of girls. While placing mosaic tiles, some of the girls casually began talking about sexual harassment, since we were discussing girls’ empowerment. One mentioned something about her home life that caught my attention. I made a point to have lunch with her and speak to her more in depth about it and found that she was being abused at home by her step-dad, she and I worked together to go to the social worker and decided together to contact children services and she and I wrote a letter to her mother concerning the issue. This was her form of empowerment, freeing herself from her abuser. I hope I am making my point here, I am a trusted ally to my students, this is a relationship I have built by means of hard work and through it I work with my colleagues to advocate for their health and safety and of course, their education. These are just two of many similar stories in my school in which art has acted as a life preserver to a student who was at risk of much more than just academic failure. I am not alone, many other art educators are like me, and music teachers, physical education teachers, librarians, school nurses, social workers and counselors, we make a difference, we are not expendable, and I am not replaceable by a classroom teacher who is already overburdened by testing. Please vote to support the emotional growth and well being of Ohio’s young people, maintain the 5 of 8 rule. I am not expendable, and I am not replaceable by a classroom teacher who is already overburdened by testing. Please vote to support the emotional growth and well being of Ohio’s young people, maintain the 5 of 8 rule.

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