Why the Art Department Could Use an Extra Set of Hands


Chloe Moor

Student art from Rhinebeck High School. Art by Chloe Moor, Grade 10.

Picture this, you’re sitting with your guidance counselor and drafting up your schedule for your next year at Rhinebeck.

As you scroll through the courses, you can’t help but pick just another art class: maybe ceramics? How about you try your hand at Media Arts? Or better yet, Portfolio?

This is a scenario some RHS students didn’t get to have this year, as many of our upper level art classes became unavailable.

Why?  The answer in my view: the RHS art department could use an extra set of hands.

There’s a strong need for a part-time art teacher. With more staff, more students would be encouraged to go farther in their interest in art. It would also make more time available for students to seek one on one attention.

“A part-time media or graphic arts teacher could possibly take on the computer graphics in the Video Production classes and really expand that program…” Kathy Giles said. Video production classes, once part of the ELA department, are now being offered by Cynthia Baer as an art elective.

“We [Giles and Baer] can only teach five sections each, so I’ve taught five different courses a day because I’m trying to diversify the art program as much as possible,” Giles said. Because both Baer and Giles can only teach five sections, our school is forced to pick and choose which classes should be offered every year. The courses with the highest enrollment win. More customized and advanced art courses allow students who want to pursue art as a major, or as a career, a chance to build their portfolio, but they are usually smaller.

Without these classes, students are left to find their own way to build their craft. An example of this is Lizzy Ellis, a senior who is taking weekend art classes in Poughkeepsie because of the lack of advanced art at RHS.

“I am pursuing a career in design after high school, so to not have a class accessible here makes it challenging to make that dream possible,” Ellis said. If students don’t have transportation or funds for those outside courses, they are not able to take art at all in their last year of high school.”

An additional part-time art teacher would make more art classes available for RHS 

Benefiting the art department would benefit RHS as a whole, creating more opportunities for creative students to explore new mediums and art. “We have been trying to offer more electives to the young ones coming in. That’s when we started Studio in Crafts, because some people are more hands-on oriented than fine-art-oriented,” Giles said.

Giles explained that Crafts feeds more students into the ceramic, sculpture and more hands-on classes. Now is the time to expand art offerings so everyone can have something to explore. Getting a part-time art teacher to help students with art interests at all levels will better our school community.

But we especially don’t want to lose high achieving art students or neglect students who are considering art as career. Let’s give the art department what it needs.