Lose a Gehl, gain a Farlee and a Marelli

Mrs. Patti Farlee (left) and Mrs. Diane Marelli (right) both, as usual, working very hard in class!

Mrs. Patti Farlee (left) and Mrs. Diane Marelli (right) both, as usual, working very hard in class!

Charlie Connelly, Staff Reporter

Amongst many other changes at RB this year, new teachers are filling the roles of Applied and Fine Arts Department Chair.  Last year, former RB teacher Nick Gehl was the chair for both departments.  After Gehl departed RB to become Fine Arts Chair at Lyons Township High School, Patti Farlee was named the interim Applied Arts Chair and Diane Marelli the Fine Arts Chair. Having had experience in their individual departments for years, both  Farlee and Marelli are very excited to take on the responsibilities that their jobs have to offer.

Patty Sarkady, who had been RB’s Applied Arts Chair, has been out for several years on maternity leave, and Gehl had actually filled in for her in an interim role.  As Sarkady is still out, Farlee is continuing to fill the position in an interim capacity.  Having been an Applied Arts teacher during her entire career, Farlee is very excited and passionate about the opportunities that the role of Applied Arts Chair has to offer.  As interim chair, Farlee’s responsibilities include a full time schedule (which she did not have last year), adjusting to the increase in class size, promoting the Applied Arts department itself, working with the teachers within the department, and managing the tight budget that the department has.  While the school’s budget is limited, the Applied Arts department does get federal grant money which includes the Carl Perkins grant and the Career in Technical Education grant. As department chair, Farlee will have to facilitate those funds as well. Although there are many “growing pains” to the job Farlee says she is very happy to have Marelli as a colleague helping her along the way during this transition.

“Ms. Marelli is an awesome person and an outstanding professional. She and I are learning the ropes of this position together, so it is really great to have her as a colleague,” she said.

Along with the many aspects the department chairman position has at hand, Farlee still looks at what is the most important part of her job, meeting and achieving students’ goals and needs.

“[The Applied Arts are] a great hand’s-on opportunity. Kids are active. Kids are moving. Kids get a change of pace from their day. They’re learning some outstanding content but they’re also perfecting a skill along with that. Perfect is probably too strong of a word, but the kids get some ownership to their skill,” said Farlee concerning the actual classes in the Applied Arts department.

While it’s still very early in the year, Farlee is enjoying the position and the adversities that come with it.

“I’m enjoying [the new position] but it is definitely an adjustment. It’s a good one. Like my first grade teacher used to say, ‘It’s a positive problem!'” she said.

As for Marelli, this is her seventeenth year at RB and her third time being the head of a department, so this year should be nothing new. Marelli’s responsibilities as Fine Arts department chair include supporting the Fine Arts in any way possible, maintaining the budget that is given to the Fine Arts, helping to develop and maintain curriculum, mentoring teachers and guiding them in the right direction, and making the Fine Arts visible to the community as a whole.

“It’s nice this year because we have several new department chairs. [We have] Mrs. Farlee in Applied Arts, [Sarah] Johnson in English, and [Jill] McGrath in World Languages, so there are quite a few new positions filled for the department chairs. It’s nice to have people who can support, help you, and we can also talk about some of the challenges that come with the position,” said Marelli.

Although it is very early in the year, Marelli is adjusting to the new position very smoothly and is very excited for what the Fine Arts has in store for her this year.  This year, students, staff, and parents can look forward to several perfomances from the Fine Arts department, including RB’s Got Talent as well as concerts from dance, band, orchestra and choir.  Most importantly, the Spring Musical will be returning this year after a one year hiatus.

Marella is very enthusiastic about all of these performances and cannot wait to plan and get them underway in the near future.  Auditions have already been held for RB’s Got Talent and the Fall Choir Concert will occur this week.