JUST AFTER SCHOOL ended back in June I was offered a full-time position as art teacher at Mohawk, and I accepted.
While I am excited about the change and the challenges ahead, I am certainly feeling the bittersweetness of it as I say goodbye to BSE.
For five years I have been lucky enough to work in a fabulous school community with an awesome group of creative young people in a beautiful art studio. We have made lots of spectacular art happen and I have enjoyed every art show immensely as I see the pride of the faces of students and parents alike.
I have grown as an educator here and learned so much from my colleagues and students. Leaving is not easy. Hopefully it’ll only be a matter of time before I get to teach my BSE gang again at Mohawk. Until then, I thank you all for your support of the arts — and of me over the years. I will always be grateful for that.
— Fondly, Rachel Silverman
Asked a bit later
how she was settling in at Mohawk,
Mrs. Silverman told the Flow…
I’m trying a lot of new things and learning a ton about gearing art education toward middle- and high-school students. I miss my elementary school kids a lot, but I’m enjoying the new challenge of creating a rich and meaningful art program at the older level.
I realize that my experiences at BSE and Heath have taught me so much about what is important and developmentally sound in art education and I am really just building on that and taking my practice beyond the sixth-grade year into what comes next.
I’m also piloting a new course next semester and looking forward to launching more in the future.
I feel excited and grateful to be in this community. The kids aren’t as small but they are still pretty sweet, up for trying new things and exploring different ways art can be a part of our lives.
Hence the Quick Chat…
Our staffers wondered what some of their fellow students might have to say on the occasion of Mrs. Silverman taking her new job. We enjoyed taking these photos, and getting the quotes into and out of our reporters’ notebooks…
MOHAWK—Amar Abbatiello is the Cat in the Hat and Laura Purington is Gertrude McFuzz in Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s “Seussical the Musical,” the dazzling show by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty based on several of the books of Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.
More than 85 students from grades 5 through 12 joined in the fun on stage March 6-8, and members of the Mohawk Concert Band performed alongside professional musicians.
Even the set was an all-school production, with digital, Seuss-like dreamscapes projected behind the players. Costuming, lighting, sound, choreography, and makeup and hair shone as stars in their own right.
Concessions were staffed by the Mohawk Music Association and parents. David Fried’s photographs of dress rehearsals are for sale as an MMA fundraiser.
Each performance sold out. This was a a smash hit.
Director was Shelley Roberts. Assistant director was Eva Otten. Music director was Scott Halligan.
And the elementary school liaison, who shuttled hither and yon and made Whoville happen with grace and cheer? That was Gina Glover.
“It gets them excited.
‘This is what I can do…’ ”
WE CAUGHT UP with middle school music teacher Gina Glover on opening night of “Seussical,” just after her charges — the Whos of Whoville (upper grades from the district’s elementary schools) had finished their first number to tremendous applause and swirled into the school cafeteria.
Glover — elementary school liaison for the Mohawk Music Association — managed the sea of energetic performers with a cheerful, crackling efficiency.
The next day we asked Glover to tell us what she and the kids are tackling next and what’s valuable to the community in seeing greater collaboration in the arts among the elementary schools and Mohawk…
GLOVER: We try to make a lot of connections with all of our schools in the district. April 30 we have our annual Kids in Concert event. This is a culmination of the year’s work — all our kids’ work. I collaborate with Joan Fitzgerald, who is another elementary music teacher, and Sandy Carter. We each teach general music, chorus, and elementary band in our own schools. We combine chorus students and band students in grades 4-6, and have two rehearsals and a concert. We pull it all together with 125-plus band students on stage and 80 to 100 chorus students.
We also have our Heath string program, led by David Haskell. They perform as well. In the elementary school world, that concert is the next big thing coming up. It’s huge.
FLOW: What’s the benefit to these younger kids in working on these larger, all-school productions?
GLOVER: It’s a huge benefit. They get an immediate connection to the school. The majority of them will be coming to this school. The connection that these guys have with me being the middle school music teacher, they know me coming in. I’m a known quantity. It’s welcoming. It helps with the transition.
And it helps with retention, definitely. I have about 40 kids in my chorus between seventh and eighth grade, and about 30 in the band. There were some years in my band I only had, like, 15 kids, and even 20-25 kids in the chorus. This works.
And it gets them excited. They say, “This is what I can do when I get to Mohawk…” In [2014’s] “The Wizard of Oz” they were in two scenes. They get to see, “Well, there are seventh-graders on stage, so when I’m in seventh grade I can have maybe a larger role, and then when I get to high school I can have this really big role.” They can see this natural progression.
FLOW: And the benefit to the older students?
GLOVER: I think the older kids take the younger kids under their wing. I think they like to be an inspiration for them as well.
FLOW: Is this a formal plan? Are we going to have a K-12 music department?
GLOVER: That’s our goal: to have it streamlined K-12, and I think we have a fabulous group of teachers who really want to work together to see this come to fruition. And Mr. [Scott] Halligan at the high school is doing his thing — we’re banding together and seeing what we can do to help each other out and make the department even stronger than it’s become.
Another outreach we do, Scott Halligan and I, at the end of the year we team up and take both of our ensembles and tour the elementary schools and have performances. It’s a great way for the kids to see what we do and to see what their next step is as musicians.