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News Education MMS sacrifices art program again this year

Macon Middle School deemed a ‘career exploration school’

Students entering Macon Middle School earlier this month for the 2011-2012 school year were not given the choice to take an art class. For the second year in a row, MMS has not offered art as an elective course. Instead, MMS is looking to begin offering an industrial arts class that will provide students with hands on carpentry, drafting and agriculture.

According to Nancy Cantrell, director of middle and secondary education curriculum, the course that is replacing the art program at the middle school will complete the CTE or career and technical education requirements for the school. “Dr. Brigman, the board, and other leadership members have looked at the 7th and 8th grade school as more of a career exploration school, which is why we choose this type of course; to fit into that,” said Cantrell.

Ideally, the course will be designed to allow 7th graders the opportunity to explore different areas of carpentry, drafting and agriculture, and by the time students reach 8th grade, the course will provide more in depth, and more rigorous course work geared toward specific fields of interest. Catnrell also noted that once the position is filled, which she hopes will be later this week after a recommendation is taken to the board, the courses instructor will work closely with Franklin High's carpentry's teacher to ensure a smooth transition between schools.

Along with MMS being viewed as a career exploration school, the CTE position was chosen over an art position for financial reasons. During July's School Board meeting, Cantrell explained that after paying for the position out of local funds for the next year, that CTE funds would begin paying for the position.”Financially with the CTE, I think is the reason that we are basically looking at that career wheel person,” said Scott Maslin, the Macon Middle School Principal. Cantrell added that although art would fill the fourth wheel requirement, in order to take the financial burden off of local fund at some point the CTE position was chosen.

Understanding the communities concern with the loss of an art program, Cantrell anticipates that the new industrial arts class will be geared toward creativity and hands on activities while allowing students to explore different careers. According to Cantrell, the new CTE course will be different from the ordinary business courses and will still call for areas of creative learning to attempt to encompass artistic value into the vocational education.

The new course has been developed after Tracy Hagan, who was the art teacher at MMS for six years, decided to transfer to the new school. Hagan transferred to Mountain View Intermediate School last year.

According to Hagan, she was not informed until after accepting her new position, that she would not be replaced at MMS, and the art program would be cancelled.

In a previous interview with MCN, Hagan reported that she was surprised to learn about the decision to let the art program go. “I was not prepared for the information and didn't see it coming at all,” she said. We've always been a fully supported program.” After Hagan found out the entire art program at MMS would be cancelled, she fought to save the position. “I''m very saddended by it,” said Hagan.

When the news got out that the program would not continue at MMS, Hagan, along with Susan Cloer, who was doing her student teacher at Macon Middle at the time, launched a campaign to stir up support for the art program. Cloer and Hagan worked with students to produce billboards that were placed around Macon County and along Highway 28.

According to Macon Middle Principal Scott Maslin, the decision to cut the art program was not a hasty one and was based on various issues which included balancing other academic priorities during a time of detrimental budget cuts.





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