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Kenmare art teacher in multiple classrooms at once...

They say you can’t be in two places at the same time but Courtney Halverson disputes that claim.

8/28/18 (Tue)

They say you can’t be in two places at the same time but Courtney Halverson disputes that claim.

Halverson likes to think of herself as an innovative art teacher but innovation doesn’t begin to describe this young, energetic high school instructor.

Teaching art in grades 7-12 at Kenmare High School, Halverson actually is in more than one place at one time.

She is one of the few ITV instructors in North Dakota and during a routine week she is teaching art in 20 classrooms including her own.

So Halverson’s expertise goes far beyond her artistic background. She is producing video, panning cameras, adjusting volume and giving her students the attention they deserve.

In a sense, Halverson is much like the one-room schoolhouse teacher. Her local class is 7-12 and her ITV students are 9-12. So not only is she in several classrooms at the same time, she’s teaching on multiple levels.

“As of right now, I have 19 ITV classrooms and Kenmare,” she said. “Yes, there are multiple schools.”

Last year Halverson had 16 classrooms, the year before that it was 12 and in her first year of teaching on the ITV network, she had two classes. But she admits, there’s no way she could have or would have taken on 19 schools in her first year.

Her explanation is that all the rural schools in North Dakota can’t afford to have an art teacher on staff so the ITV network is a cost-effective way to get the elective into just about any school.

“There aren’t many art teaching jobs in North Dakota,” Halverson said. “I went into art knowing ITV would be an option.”

And for Halverson, art is much more than drawing and painting and it isn’t the easy “A” it may once have been. She takes her teaching seriously and it shows during her lectures.

“The more you expose kids to things, the better for them to find a career path,” she said. “I always see the benefit to bringing art to these students, but I would eventually like to focus more on Kenmare.”

As she is teaching, Halverson has control of cameras and buttons on remote so she can jump from one classroom to another and sometimes mute it out if one class is later or earlier than the others.

“I used to get nervous,” she said. “I had to do it during my student teaching.”

She said a lot of students are quite timid about interacting on video and most don’t have an adviser in the room, so you can imagine what could happen.

“I have had to ask schools to step in because of behavior,” she said. “If there are five or more students, there should be a supervisor.”

Halverson has procedures and class management, but sometimes she ad libs.

“Art is hands on and it becomes frustrating through the camera because I can’t be there to physically help them,” she said. “So there is a lot of email communication. It’s not quite perfected.”

Starting her fifth year of teaching, Halverson spent one year at Jim Hill Middle School in Minot without ITV before picking up her additional duty.

A graduate of Minot State University, she said she sometimes bounces ideas off a couple of other art teachers which helps her own motivation sometimes.

“Art classes in general are very important to students’ creativity and expression,” she said. “Some think it’s a sluff class, an easy A. But you’re using the other half of your brain which allows creative thinking.”

In order to impact as many students as possible, she starts with a vague subject matter and allows the students to be creative. Along the way, she tries to teach as many art media as possible.

“There are so many media and art styles,” she said. “I’m exposing the kids to as much stuff as possible. You have to have an art background for video game programming. That interests the boys.”

Teaching in two states at the same time might not be a perfect science, but Halverson suggests the Greater Northwest Network, which implements the ITV program, is quite helpful and forward thinking.

She said all her classes are recorded and they can quickly be shown. So if a student is gone at a sporting or academic event, they can watch the lecture later and not miss anything.

In addition, she has a website and can print out worksheets.

Participating schools include Belfield, Center, Garrison, Grant County, Grenora, Hebron, Steele, Max, Napoleon, New Salem, North Sargent, Parshall, Powers Lake, Stanley, Turtle Lake, Underwood, Washburn and Wing. It also includes Glendive, Mont.

If you think about it, Halverson doesn’t just teach in Kenmare. In other words, various schools take various days off. As an example, there might be a snow day in Kenmare, but school is in session in Napoleon so unlike other local teachers, she needs to be there for her “out-of-town” students.

“A lot of the procedures are set,” Halverson said. “It does take a lot of technical know how to operate the cameras until there’s a power outage.”

On Friday morning, Halverson was teaching her Kenmare students, but also had Parshall, North Sargent and Grenora on her ITV screens, as well as one camera on herself which is what the students outside of Kenmare will see when the class begins... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!