Precious resources brighten city

Published 10:09 am Friday, December 25, 2009

While business looks forward to the possibility of a recovering economy in 2010, the academic world will wait on a budget that reflects the gains from a year of economic recovery in the corporate world.

Education won’t experience recovery until the economy has improved for about a year.

However, teachers believe children are a lot more important than money. We’re masters at making do with the supplies we have; however, we have to pace ourselves, rationing our most precious resources to make them last.

At the Valley Intermediate School Christmas concert, band and choir director Marjorie Lee’s students delivered a moving performance.

Retired VIS teacher Sandy Litkenhous returned as volunteer pianist as she has done for several years. Lee’s devoted husband joined in as well with his instrument –– and with setting up and taking down all of the equipment, just as he always does.

When Principal Dana Payne took the stage to offer her thanks for Lee’s devotion, she reminded everyone just how far above the call of duty Lee has gone.

Like all other Shelby County intermediate school music and art teachers, Lee has been assigned to two schools this year. Budget cuts forced these new circumstances.

“Although Mrs. Lee is now the music teacher at two intermediate schools, she still finds time to arrive very early so that we can have choir here two mornings each week before school, and she does the same at her other school as well,” Payne told the audience.

Payne went on to share that Lee continues with her band program at VIS, which is held after school.

Lee tells me learning everyone’s name is a huge challenge. With her new VIS third graders, and the addition of the Oak Mountain Intermediate School students, she has more than 1,000 new students this year. She has about 1,500 students in the two intermediate schools.

Lee believes in the importance of music education and she is devoted to her students’ future success.

“The higher maths and sciences will be easier to grasp because students have studied the abstract concepts in music,” she said.

Shelby County’s intermediate school music and art teachers are one of our most precious resources.

As planning for the new school year begins, perhaps returning these teachers to the assignment of only one school will be a possibility.

“I truly am thankful to still have a job this year,” Lee said.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at