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Faculty Focus: Jack Rossini

By Courtney Foster
Published: March 2011

Throughout the course of the past half century, students created dynamic artwork and belted harmonious numbers within South’s walls.

The progression of the Art and Music programs at South has occurred in lieu of the efforts of countless people, from the parents who assist these programs to the teachers who build their foundations, and finally to the students who push these programs beyond their limits.

From within this sort of family, there is one man in particular who has seen these programs at their heights and struggles. This artist and musician is Dr. Jack Rossini, a teacher who recently re-introduced himself to the South community.

Rossini has a vast history in the Newton Public School system. His career at South began in 1983 when he directed the band, working with Choral Director Helen Taylor and Orchestra Director Gordon Duckel. This was not, however, an opportune time to start teaching at a new school.

During the 1980s, the student population in Newton began to fall increasingly lower. There came to be fewer and fewer students at South, until only several hundred spanned all the grade levels.

All student groups at South grew smaller; the school-wide band had only 25 musicians.

This decline in students led to the schools not needing as many teachers to maintain a proper student-teacher ratio, so Rossini’s first tenure ended during a series of staff cuts.

Around 1990, he taught at Brown Middle School.

According to Rossini, this was a tough time for everyone involved in the Newton Public School system, and consequently, everybody suffered.

Fortunately, the 1990’s brought a “building decade,” and the student population began to increase once more. When Newton South offered Rossini the position of orchestra director, he took the job, and what began as an 11-musician orchestra in 2003 grew to a hearty 45 musicians within six years.

The band and chorus increased in numbers as well with the arrival of Ms. Lisa Linde and Dr. Benjamin Youngman.

Beginning in 2006, Rossini headed the Fine Arts department until his retirement in 2009.

With Youngman’s leave of absence to travel  to China, Rossini returned to assume Youngman’s position as the director of three choruses and as the teacher of music theory classes.

During the time in which Rossini worked at South, much has changed in the Fine Arts department. Changes in student population have largely shaped and defined the progression of the Art and Music programs.

Currently, both of these programs are grappling with the effects of limited funding, and employees are working harder than ever to accommodate for the monetary losses.

Though art and music classes continue to increase in size, Rossini believes, “the student enthusiasm is still there” and are “on the upswing.”

Numerous awards have recognized the excellence of these programs, which is always showcased in the students’ high level of performance.

These artists have Rossini to thank for helping sculpt this inspirational pathway, which will provoke creativity in young minds for generations to come.

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