After a school year with only one art teacher, Galt High School hired Daré Mitchell to fill the role left after the former ceramics instructor left last school year.
At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the GHS ceramics teacher left and the position was left open, said Principal Kellie Beck.
“We had our ceramics teacher, Mr. (Adam) Reeder. He moved and then we couldn’t fill that position,” Beck said. “Because we posted for ceramics teachers and there (were) no ceramics teachers. I never got one applicant for that position.”
The lack of applicants forced the Galt High administration to get creative in dealing with the students’ sudden lack of a period, Beck said.
“In fact, last year I had to put students in other classes that they may not have wanted and create some different kinds – like a tutorial class or homework classes – because I could never find a teacher to fill that spot,” Beck said. “There’s just nobody out there.”
The inability to find a ceramics teacher let the GHS administration know they had to move quickly in order to have a teacher to fill that spot before the 2022-2023 school year, Beck said.
“So that was why I really knew we had to act fast to hire a quality teacher for the kids here because I didn’t want to put our students in another position like that where they didn’t have access to a highly qualified teacher, and I know that we have one now, so I’m happy,” Beck said.
The ongoing teacher shortage across the country greatly hindered the hiring process, which made Mitchell’s application stand out that much more among the few applicants, Beck said.
“I don’t really remember – I think (there were) about three (applicants),” Beck said. “It was a very light amount. So we were very excited with the few that we did have – and the one that we selected, she’s amazing. So really happy to have her – she has come to us with a ton of experience.”
Art teacher Corryn Hafner said being the only art teacher last year was a challenge.
“It was pretty difficult because, as a teacher, one of the ways that we grow as teachers and learn better and plan our curriculum better is to collaborate with somebody else and to bounce ideas off of each other,” Hafner said. “So when I was here at the campus by myself … I no longer had somebody to collaborate with or to share some of the additional stuff for different job duties, like being our club advisor.”
Hafner noted the students felt the effect as well.
“It was also a little difficult on the students, too, because all of a sudden they couldn’t take ceramics that they were looking forward to and … I could only teach so many students when it’s supposed to be a requirement,” Hafner said.
Hafner said hiring Mitchell not only lifted a burden off her shoulders, but it also gave her room to build new and exciting programs for the students.
“I’m personally excited about her, because I get to build a program … I’ve been working on for seven years,” Hafner said. “I built it up to having like (eight or nine) courses and then now we’re adding the digital arts, so I get to let another teacher … continue growing the arts-specific classes like Art 1 … while I bring in something new, which is going to be digital photography and digital art.”
This is not only exciting, Hafner said, but it also presents students with opportunities to train for and adapt to the current job market.
“So we get to have this relevant art program that matches what is out there job-wise, because there is a bigger market for graphic designers and for the digital side,” Hafner said.
These sentiments are echoed by Mitchell, who looks forward to working with Hafner this year in building opportunities for students.
“It’s priceless,” Mitchell said. “Yeah, she’s … been great. She’s been helping me 100% of the way. … And I like collaborating with other teachers as well … and she’s a great one to work with.”
After a week on the job, Mitchell said Galt High had been nothing but welcoming.
“Everybody’s very nice and happy, and I see a lot of school pride, and students are coming to class and getting here on time, and it’s really wonderful. … It’s been really terrific,” Mitchell said.
Senior Mekayla Gaskill said she is looking forward to a new school year with Mitchell.
“She seems very nice,” Gaskill said. “She has like — you know how some people have this kind of hospitality? — she kind of has that about her. It’s going to work really well.”