Amid enrolment decline, teacher switches to Carleton Place in pursuit of desired art programming
Nation Valley News
MAPLE RIDGE — Troy Smith acknowledged last week that he’s leaving North Dundas District High School after almost two decades as art teacher at the educational institution.
He also served as a hockey and sports coach.
The annual senior art show — an event he has spearheaded since arriving at NDDHS 19 years ago — was Smith’s last.
The Orleans resident said he learned the previous Thursday that his application to teach art at Carleton Place had been accepted.
“It was getting harder and harder not to say anything,” he said as the 2017 ‘Potpourri’ show took place around him, adding he found himself in the heartbreaking position of having to tell next year’s senior art students that they weren’t enrolled in “his” class. “The Grade 11’s were all looking forward to next year already.”
“I did stress over it,” he said of his decision to apply in Carleton Place, adding he waited until late in the afternoon of deadline day to send the fateful email to the other school. “Two p.m. came and went and I was still stewing over it.”
“My plan was to spend my entire career here,” added Smith, a former 1980s hair-band follower before becoming an educator (with photos to prove it).
But he was wooed away from his NDDHS “family” by the opportunity to teach art classes full-time again, something that has ebbed with declining enrolment at the rural high school. Gradually, the sections on Smith’s course calendar have shifted to subjects like drama, civics and careers.
When asked, he wasn’t sure if the aborted plan to close Seaway District High School and redirect approximately 200 additional students to NDDHS might have changed the course calendar more to his liking. In any case, the timing of the job posting at Carleton Place precluded waiting around on that possibility.
Without a hint of negativity, he candidly recalled that it was the opening of Russell High School and Russell’s St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, earlier this century, that coincided with a gradual drop in art students at NDDHS.
On top of that competitive pressure, it also coincided with a shrinking youth demographic overall in the Township of North Dundas. According to statistics provided earlier this year by the township’s planning department, North Dundas was home to 2,660 children age 19 and younger in 2011 — down nearly 21 percent from the 3,270 children in that segment just 20 years earlier.
But in the meantime, the all-female participants in this year’s Senior Art Show offered quite display of artistic creativity.
Check later for a gallery of photos …
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