Ebersole Teaches a Lesson in Adaptability

From Jeans Days to Masters Hour, Masters’ new schedule, introduced in the 2019-2020 school year, has shaken up the daily agenda; however, private music lessons provided a new caliber of complexity to scheduling. Between balancing over 100 students’ schedules, unoccupied practice rooms, and teacher availability, on top of navigating the new eight-day rotation, getting all the pieces to fit together seemed to be a herculean task. However, Private Lesson Coordinator, Curt Ebersole took this challenge head-on.

Historically, the old schedule provided its own difficulties; the frequently altering delta-phi schedule left students displaced and constantly rescheduling their music lessons. There are middle school and upper school lessons intermixed throughout the day.

“I spent a great deal of time figuring that puzzle out,” Ebersole said, “It required a great deal of multidimensional thinking. It was exhausting.”

Challenged with tackling a new, seemingly more intricate schedule, the music department initially was stumped; however, after a few weeks of brainstorming, Ebersole explained that Jennifer Carnevale cracked the code for scheduling these “new” lessons.

“Mrs. Carnevale realized that the way [the new schedule] is set up, if a teacher can commit to two consecutive days of the week, they can cover A through H block,” Ebersole said.

A private lessons teacher, Brian O’Connell, sees the new schedule in regards to the music program as a lingering dilemma, but reflected on Ebersole and Carnevale’s hard work.

“Mr. Ebersole and Mrs. Carnavale have been very effective in the process and making our schedules clear to us well before the lesson,” O’Connell said.

This realization made everything fall into place. With this development in the works, Ebersole compiled all of the student’s schedules, the teacher’s calendars and sat down to work. The new system requires each instructor to allow two consecutive days of the week to teach, known as their “lane;” since all eight blocks fall within a two day period, a student's free periods are able to line up with their instructor at least once per cycle.

“In previous years, it took me a full week to create the lesson schedule once I had all of the data. This year I did it in one weekend,” Ebersole said.

Scheduling seemed a daunting task at first, but it evolved into a simplified and satisfying system.

O’Connell shared how Ebersole has helped in while adjusting to the new schedule and made time for him to see all 17 of his students in just two days. O’Connell suggested a new way of dealing with private lessons which would be much easier for the teachers and students.

“If all of the private lessons were after school, it would make it a lot easier for the private lesson teachers to plan their work week and plan other jobs since it’s primarily a part-time position and most of us hold the jobs elsewhere,” he said.

Student Vocalist Arielle Halpern spoke to the effort that Ebersole has put into helping everyone adjust to the new situation.

“He’s really great under pressure,” she said. “I think he has been super understanding and helpful to all the students who take lessons and always makes sure everyone is up to date on what is going on.”

Ebersole has seen communication between teachers and students as a crucial aspect of the productivity and longevity of the program. Now, teachers send out the lessons for the entirety of the month in advance allowing students to plan ahead and secure meeting times.

According to Ebersole, he has told all of the teachers that the first thing to do in any lesson is to talk about when you meet next week. Otherwise, it's a free-for-all.

Junior Anthi Likitsakos mentioned that even after all these organizational tactics, students can still lose track of the meeting times.

“The teachers have resorted to sending kids confirmation emails for their lessons to make sure they know at what time and place their lesson is occurring,” she said.

With all new systems, there are always a few kinks, but Ebersole concluded, “Once we dove in, the water wasn’t as cold as we expected.”


Photos courtesy of Andrew Mitchell