Burgess-Peterson Parents Seek Solution to Art Teacher Problem
East Atlanta school — along with Toomer Elementary in Kirkwood — has been without a permanent art teacher since early October.
By now, Reid Tankersley expected his refrigerator door to be showcasing his kid's artwork from her classes at Burgess-Peterson Academy in East Atlanta.
Problem is, there isn't any.
Burgess-Peterson's regular art teacher is out this school year on sabbatical.
An interim teacher was brought in and she split her time between Burgess-Peterson and Toomer Elementary in Kirkwood.
But Tankersley and several other parents have expressed concerns to Atlanta Public Schools officials that their kids have not had any real art lessons and that supplies for those classes have gone unused.
The interim art teacher then went on leave in early October. She is scheduled to return in January.
APS officials say they have a solution that should please parents at Burgess-Peterson and Toomer.
Reid, who sent a letter to district Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. on Nov. 30, said parents don't want her back.
"Our position is that we don't want this person to return as the art instructor," Tankersley told East Atlanta Patch, explaining she did not turn in lesson plans or assignments and that they were done by someone else.
"She wasn't doing a good job, she wasn't doing a bad job, she wasn't doing much of a job at all," Tankersley said.
"We don’t want to lose the rest of the school year to whatever issues might come up if this person is allowed to return," he said.
Tankersley, who authored the letter sent to APS, is Burgess-Peterson's Parent Teacher Association president.
He said he did not write it in his capacity as PTA head, only because the association had not yet been able to meet about it to discuss it.
"We are asking your help in dealing with what is a completely unacceptable situation with regard to our curriculum," the letter reads in part. "That is, the students of BPA are for all intents and purposes receiving NO art instruction."
Parents became alarmed he said when their children reported not having any fun in the class, which has been led by substitute teachers since October.
Raymond Veon, APS' interim director, of the Fine and Performing Arts Department of Teaching and Learning, did not return a telephone call Friday seeking comment.
But in a written response to Burgess-Peterson parents, he said the district is aware of the problem at both schools and is working on a solution.
"Because Burgess-Peterson Elementary and Toomer Elementary share the art teacher, the principals from each school have been in communication with the Director of Fine Arts and representatives from the central office, including Human Resources," Veon wrote in his response to parents.
"We met as a team on Thursday, November 29th, 2012 regarding these concerns. We have identified an award-winning, highly-qualified substitute art teacher who will be in place starting December 10th. We will stay abreast of this situation and follow up accordingly."
Joe Alcock, a Toomer parent, said he wished APS addressed the problem sooner but is glad the district has a plan in place.
For the last eight weeks at Toomer, the kids were working on a self-portrait, Alcock, an architect, said.
The curriculum mandates that kids get exposed to a variety of disciplines and styles within art instruction, none of which had been happening, he said, adding that he often draws with his kids as a way to teach them various concepts through visual means.
"We started looking at what was being done according to the state curriculum standards and they weren't getting any of that," Alcock said. "I'm not looking for a bunch of Rembrandts to come out of the class but I do think it's a valuable component of learning.
"It was a big deal for me as an architect," he continued, adding he'll reserve judgement until he sees the teacher in action and can review his or her credentials. "I'm really glad that they’ve addressed it."