This letter serves to question the recent decision in the reassignments of band director and choral director in the Twin Valley school system. My understanding is that the placement is as follows: Karen Horton will be placed at Twin Valley Elementary School and Sue Maddern will be the music director at Twin Valley Middle/High School.
As a parent of two children who have graduated from Twin Valley, I seriously question the wisdom of this decision. One of my children has just graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in music education, largely because of Karen Horton’s influence, guidance, and mentoring. When I first moved to this community, Whitingham was a K-12 school and had an impressive music program with the support of both Karen and Sue. Each of these teachers provides this community and its students with the best possible option and exposure to music. With the consolidation and decrease in attendance, schedule restrictions led to a decrease in high school band involvement; however, there were sincere hopes, among many of us, that the housing of both the middle school and the high school under one roof would once again build a music program that would attract and enhance our children’s academic and cultural options.
Horton’s expertise is in instrumental instruction and as a band director. Maddern’s is in choral teaching as well as general music. I question the decision to place teachers in areas that do not highlight their strengths. Why would a band director be placed in an elementary school, when most of these students’ music instruction is vocal? Generally, band instruments are not taught until fourth and fifth grade. Why would a choral director be placed in a middle/high school where every grade has the opportunity to play an instrument? My understanding is Karen and Sue’s proposal was to split their time between two buildings so that each could support and teach our children in the most beneficial way and allow access to both teachers instead of limiting each school to one.
However, this proposal was turned down. The reasoning, I was given, was it was a scheduling issue. I sincerely hope that is not the case. I would also hope the board would strongly weigh the opinions of our musical professionals over administrative scheduling decisions.
Our children deserve the best we can give them, and I firmly believe this decision is a bad one. Our music department and our students deserve better. I am confident that we can creatively come to a mutual consensus that will enhance both our schools and both our music departments.