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D159 Music Teacher Resigns

D159 music teacherJessica Maffia tendered her resignation May 16, effective at the end of the 2011-12 school year. Maffia told Patch she is leaving the district after budget cuts increased her workload to the point of compromising her teaching style.

Citing an overload in work and increased administrative duties brought on by budget cuts,  music program teacher Jessica Maffia tendered her resignation May 16.

Maffia, who has worked in the district for nine years, sent an email to district parents, explaining her decision.

“It is no secret that this has been an especially challenging year for the music department..." the email read. "In the past few years I have seen my responsibilities rapidly increase while my time teaching kids about making music has diminished. This increased responsibility has forced me to make compromises in my teaching, compromises that make me very uncomfortable.”

Maffia explained that due to budget cuts within the district, the music department was reduced from three full-time teachers, to two: Maffia and Jennifer Thomas. 

“I still feel like I'm not giving the students what they deserve,” Maffia said. “That I don't have enough time in the day to prepare well enough for them, to give them quality rehearsal time. … I feel like, because of my limited time, I'm just barely teaching them how to kind of 'parrot' the music back to me, instead of actually learning about the music and the reasons it's written the way it is and how that applies to the next piece of music. I feel like I'm only teaching them how to do this one thing, instead of how it applies to everything.”

She added that in the last year, her class assignments increased from two ensembles to five, in addition to three other regular music classes.

“By giving me five ensembles, when I had been teaching two, you can't create more time,” she said. “It meant that there was less time devoted to each group.”

By losing time to dedicate to each group, Maffia said that she felt she wasn't able to teach the music properly and was unable to fulfill her goals as a teacher.

It is her opinion, she said, that the district was not trying to find a solution to the problem and that was the main reason she decided to leave—a decision she reached much earlier in the year, she said.

Maffia brought her concerns to Superintendent Steve Stein and administration. She said she did not receive a response from the district.

“We've really made no progress in trying to remedy the situation,” she said. “It has come to a point where I realized, that even if they chose to change something, here, now, I don't have enough time in my life to prepare for next year. It's too late.”

Superintendent Stein said that the loss of Maffia is a sad one for the district, calling her a mentor, role model and valued teacher. He added that losing a teacher such as Maffia is tough for any district.

However, he said he was surprised by Maffia's sentiment about there being too much work, even with the elimination of a position from last year.

“Any time you go from three staff members to two staff members, there has to be some kind of give,” Stein said. “That's something we've seen across the board, in areas beyond the music and band departments. … That was certainly something she wrote about in her resignation letter. I guess my reaction is, that I certainly wish her the best.”

Stein went on reiterate that he, and the rest of the district, are sad to see Maffia leave, but that the entire district wishes her the best on her new endeavors.

Maffia added that leaving Mokena will be difficult, as she has become very fond of her students, the parents and the community. However, she said it was what was best for her and her family, and said she will remember her time in Mokena fondly.

Her resignation is effective at the end of the school year.

More Area School Music News: 

It's me... May 17, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Too bad the 2.4 million found wasn't used for such programs. Instead I hear rumors of iPhones being purchased during the referendum, so they can "keep in contact" with each other. Also hearsay is the 2,000 a month bill being paid by the district. Let's put that "found" money back where it belongs, to the kids!!!! The school board needs to stop looking at their political agendas, and start looking at what's being done to these programs and it's effect in the children. Moral is low in the schools, this just adds to that. Parents, wake up! The school board meetings should be full of us parents! We need to make sure those in charge are doing right by by the kids!!!
year after May 17, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Good now more money that we can pay the administrators.
Pam May 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Ms. Maffia will truly be missed by all. She has been a role model to my girls. I have great concerns about our school district already and this is just icing on the cake. I think our administrators and board need to look at Illinois school success stories( i know of quite a few)and model them instead of this continuous downward spiral. This will change mokena and the desire for new families to move here.
kimberly perch May 18, 2012 at 03:45 AM
I have no doubt that Ms. Maffia is a wonderful teacher but guess what? There are dozens of teachers looking for jobs who will be more than happy to step into her vacant position and won't feel like they are working too hard.
Lonny May 19, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Mrs. Maffia handled that difficult situation with tact and class. I wish the best for her.
Mokenamom May 19, 2012 at 02:20 AM
She was a wonderful teacher. My son took band for 2 years, and she really made him love and appreciate music. She will truly be missed.

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