District OKs new third-grade teacher
Additional classroom would ease concerns spurred by growth at THS
At a special meeting Monday night, Tonganoxie school board members unanimously approved the hiring of Pam Field as an additional third-grade teacher.
Field, a former Tonganoxie Elementary School teacher and currently part-time kindergarten music teacher, will start up a sixth third-grade classroom.
The move was necessitated, district officials said, because of enrollment increases at the elementary school.
Richard Erickson, Tonganoxie school superintendent, said Field's classroom will be located in the school building. Chris Korb, another third-grade teacher, has agreed to move his classroom to a modular building.
"We just felt that it would be best if Mrs. Field was in the building and could collaborate with the other third-grade teachers," Erickson said. "We appreciate Mr. Korb's willingness to help out that way and move his classroom."
Even though it will be about two weeks until Field has her own classroom, the board asked that she start this week.
"The plan right now is for Mrs. Field to begin work in the classrooms with the other classroom teachers for part of the day, to help assist with the student load we have," Erickson said. "And that provides the opportunity to learn the curriculum and be ready to go when we establish her classroom."
TES principal Jerry Daskoski said 25 to 26 students per classroom were too many, and at the Sept. 9 school board meeting, he pitched his idea of adding a classroom.
"Theoretically, I knew we had the need because of the size of the classes," Daskoski said. "And it is still a primary grade where you're really trying to make sure the kids are coming out of third grade are proficient in reading that's where you really nail reading."
The additional classroom will make it so there are 20 to 21 students in each room.
Third-grade parents have been surveyed about the possibility of adding a classroom, which means some students will be moved out of their existing rooms.
"We've gotten a very positive response," Daskoski said. "I'm going to send another survey out now because we know who the teacher is and that adds a whole lot of meaning for parents."
Even though starting a classroom this late in the game is a challenge, Daskoski said he believes Field can handle it.
"Pam Field has an outstanding reputation as a teacher," Daskoski said.
Daskoski said Field taught in the elementary school in the late 1980s before choosing to be a stay-at-home mother. She has kept up her teaching credentials and has since earned a master's degree in education counseling psychology.
The cost of adding the new classroom will be about $40,000, but Daskoski said it's well worth it.
"The most direct way to spend money on students is to hire an additional teacher to where you can meet student needs individually," Daskoski said. "And that's what it's all about."
This is the second year of increases in the elementary school's enrollment.
"The enrollment has gone up by approximately 30 to 35 students at the elementary school each of the last two years," Daskoski said. "We were at 694 two years ago and now we're at 764."