Potential Parochial School Music Teacher Position- Input Please!!!
  • ghunter
    Posts: 15
    Dear Colleagues,

    Your feedback, whether you are interested in the job, or not would be greatly appreciated. I have been music director at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory in Victoria, TX for 3 years now. The school music teacher position has opened, for the first time in over 20 years, as the music teacher has finally retired. The previous teacher was not Catholic and had no interest in any involvement with the Cathedral beyond a very bare minimum.

    The pastor and I are very excited to take this opportunity to create a strong relationship between church and school, and a school music program that reflects the breadth and depth of the church's musical heritage.

    The vision is for the position to be 4 days at the school, plus Sundays, for a 5 day work week. Ideally Friday/Saturday off, although currently it would be Monday/Saturday. The church will pitch in to raise the salary to something fairly competitive, probably low $40Ks, which is comparable to public schools in the area, and above the salary of the rest of the catholic school teachers.

    As such, with the church paying part of the salary, the position would officially be along the lines of Music Teacher/Assistant Director of Music.

    The school is PreK3 - 8th grade. The ideal candidate would foster a love for music, from chant, hymns and other appropriate music across all ages; the ideal candidate would have at least basic organ skills to lead hymns and some anthems effectively from the organ.

    The school choir is currently 4th-8th grades. I'd love to see this separated into boys/girls, different grade breakdowns, etc.

    So...... Anyone out there interested in such a position? Any suggestions for where/how to find someone like that? Again, this position is not officially "created". The school is hiring but not along these lines. Conversations will be had in the next week with the school principal, and I'm hoping to have a better feel for what types of candidates might be "out there" before having that conversation.

    Thanks for any help/insight. Reply, Message, or email me at olvmusic@olvcathedral.org

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,069
    The salary level sounds pretty good--unless it were to become bad. If there came a time when budget cuts were necessary, or if there were a change of rector/ principal/ dm, the music teacher would be the first to go because of the higher salary, and because of the arts curriculum's often perceived expendability compared to "core" subjects.

    The other issue with music teaching is that like any church music position, it requires prep time. For "regular" teachers, prep is done almost entirely on one's own time. Chores are piled on willy-nilly: lunch supervision, faculty meetings, accreditation process meetings, etc. etc. Teachers are expected to correspond quite a bit electronically, and to make lesson plans, and to have a fair grading process, and it is all very time-consuming. The school will probably expect the music teacher to put on the dreaded Christmas pageant, and a spring concert, and one or two other things.

    So a DM who wanted to make this job attractive would probably seek to protect the music teacher from all of this or at least most of it.

    Frankly if I were designing such a position for myself, I would not even want an office or classroom in the school, but would meet the children in the church, and come and go from there, and not give grades, at least until middle school.

    The separation of boys and girls isn't really necessary until 6th grade, in my opinion. From there on it is really helpful because middle schoolers are worried about the impression they are making on the opposite sex.

    I would like to recommend chant as the most age-appropriate music for little children, but there are two reasons for avoiding this. One, they love hymns. Two, there will be a lot of pushback from a lot of people if they sing only chant. Still, it is pretty much tailor-made for little children.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 471
    What's the chain of command between parish and school?

    My position is a lot like this, but only works well because my pastor is superintendent and knows it.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • ghunter
    Posts: 15
    What's the chain of command between parish and school?

    The current school principal is retiring, so nothing is certain. However, were this position to work out, it would be due to the pastor making it so, thereby establishing a certain influence and interest.
    The goal is for music teacher to report to me musically, principal academically, and pastor to oversee.
  • GHunter,

    As someone who once had 6 direct superiors (because I taught in two divisions, two different academic departments, drove a school bus and had the Curriculum Head supervisorially over me) may I recommend that you reduce to a minimum the number of people to whom this new teacher would answer, and make sure that you agree with each other before making her life miserable with turf squabbles or other pointless disagreements?
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 471
    My question, though, is perhaps more pointed, beyond a question of influence:

    Is the pastor really in charge of the school? Will he have the final say on hiring the new principal? Can he fire the principal? Can he set priorities for the school administration on an official level?

    If these things are true, hire a parish employee with duties in the school that are subordinated always to the needs of the parish. Tell the incoming principal that this is just how it works.

    Every year the school puts a teacher contract in my inbox, that it is my official duty to ignore. The pastor gives me my real contract, which I sign.

    I know that in a Cathedral setting, this can be more fraught. Also, most parishes don't run a PreK-12 school alone.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,069
    I think you should try to make the person your assistant, working in the church, with the primary responsibility of developing children's choirs, beginning with the school.
  • Carol
    Posts: 480
    Is there a teacher's union involved? Where I worked even part time teachers were covered by a contract. If the answer is yes, then duties, etc. may be more spelled out within the contract. Kathy has raised some excellent points, but if there is a contract involved it may not be possible to rule out some of the items that are less attractive. I am not a big fan of teacher's unions, but they do serve a purpose.
  • Is the purpose of the task you wish the new music teacher to accomplish...
    1) to please the diocesan board of education (or any other constituted board, or even accrediting agency)
    2) to prepare the ground work so that the current generation of young people can grow up without a prejudice against chant
    3) to teach the children to sing (and listen to) music from the whole of Western civilization
    4) to affirm grandparents in their love of "children's music" or "age appropriate music" or something similar
    5) to work in tandem with the parish music director (so that, for example, the school produces and Advent program and the parish concentrates on Christmas)
    6) to have the children sing at Mass, periodically.
    7) something else
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 724
    this was striking!
    **The previous teacher was not Catholic and had no interest in any involvement with the Cathedral beyond a very bare minimum.
    ** The pastor and I are very excited to take this opportunity to create a strong relationship between church and school, and a school music program that reflects the breadth and depth of the church's musical heritage.

    I like Kathy's replys, but wonder about the logistics of a single off-campus class, four days a week, in the school schedule.
    Of course, if these children are required to attend morning Mass, as I was at that age, they're already at the church & the class could follow.