Music program rollout could take teacher, and Peabody parents don’t want her gone (correction)
Several parents from the Peabody School tried to make the case Tuesday that a beloved music teacher should stay at their school. Behind their plea to the School Committee was the issue of how best to fairly distribute resources across the schools.
The school uses the Kodaly (pronounced ko-die) Music Education Program, which makes learning music an integral part of education and teaches it almost as another language. Though Peabody was the first Cambridge Kodaly school, the program has also been started in the Morse, Tobin, and Fletcher Maynard Schools. Music classes are taught four times a week at Peabody, as opposed to once a week in non-Kodaly Cambridge elementary schools.
The parents are concerned that one of their two music teachers, Megan Ankuda, who teaches third through fifth grades, may be transferred to help roll out the Kodaly program at a different school next year. The proposed 2014-15 budget includes expanding Kodaly to the Baldwin School.
Seven parents extolled a recent school concert for grades one to four, called by Derek van Bever, parent of three children at Peabody, as “the best event I have ever attended at the Peabody.” But the school has had three teachers in as many years, he said, “which makes it challenging to learn and grow,” and the parents urged that the two music teachers be allowed to continue to build on their partnership and work begun with the children.
“I know it makes managerial sense to send your strongest person out to recreate the structure,” said parent Lisa Ulrich, but she appealed for letting Ankuda stay to help build “the foundation for our future potential.”
Another, Alice Jarrard, added that because music has been a focus of Peabody for some time, she was “not sure that other schools [would be] prepared to shift their central focus to Kodaly” as Peabody has. She urged the district “to study how to disseminate the model rather than break it apart.”
Committee member Fred Fantini, who moved for the committee meeting rules to be suspended so the parents could speak without the topic being on the agenda, wrote in an email afterward that the Cambridge schools’ music department “has applied for grant money to pay for the Kodaly program for the Baldwin school and two others. So until that issue is resolved it’s premature to tell what will happen.”
Elaine Koury, the district’s K-12 coordinator of visual and performing arts and maker of staffing assignments for music and art teachers, wrote:
Ms. Ankuda is an excellent and very popular teacher. At this time of year, it is commonplace for staffing assignments to be somewhat unsettled. Likewise, we are still in the process of making a decision about potential expansion of the Kodaly music program. Once these matters are resolved, we will be able to confirm Ms. Ankuda’s assignment.
Other items from the committee meeting:
Rules were suspended to approve unanimously a governance subcommittee motion to make Judith Martin manager of the School Committee office effective Sept. 1 upon the Aug. 31 retirement of Patricia Berry, but the structure of the office will be under review.
Student committee members report: There’s an upcoming senior day to which entering ninth-graders will be invited and a fashion show coming Friday benefiting Transition House; a report was delivered on the scholarship night for CRLS seniors; seniors’ last day is May 30, and graduation is June 5.
Unfinished business: Moved forward to the next meeting without discussion were a re-examination of the designation of high school “college preparatory” classes; and the hiring of a consultant to provide meaningful feedback to K-5 and middle schools.
Superintendent’s agenda recommendations approved:$53,000 for French textbooks; $49,000 for Cambridge Rindge and Latin School plumbing; $100,000 for JK-5 Apple computers; $215,000 grant awards for partnerships.
School Committee agenda motions passed: Recognition of the Peabody School’s Cambridge Public Library/Cambridge Tree Project participants; analyze demographic and enrollment trends regarding future school renovations; send letters of congratulations for CRLS students who got merit scholarships of $100,000 or more; refer report on King Open hot classrooms (which found no fixes beyond blinds and fans) to the buildings and ground subcommittee to review report and hold hearing; request report on efforts to meet needs of advanced learners upon two years of new academic challenge manager position.
Resolutions: In honor of retiring teacher Margaret “Peggy” Walsh; letter of condolence for Jack Clinton.
Presentation: Dr. Jon Saphier, president of Research for Better Teaching, newly contracted to run a leadership development program for the district.
This post was corrected May 22, 2014, to say the Peabody School’s use of Kodaly is not unique in Cambridge.