Lower school will be playing  a game of musical chairs next year.

But instead of students shuffling, next year it will be the teachers. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade will be affected by multiple changes in teaching positions.

Alice Levy, fifth-grade history and English teacher, will be retiring after completing her 16th year at the school. Amy Velder, a new addition to the faculty, will replace Levy.

For  11 years, Velder has taught language arts and technology at Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City.

When visiting SCDS, Velder taught a lesson on science fiction to Levy’s class. The students greatly enjoyed the class, Levy said.

Denise Scruggs, fifth-grade math and science teacher, will be moving up to the middle school, where she will teach Algebra I and Geometry to eighth graders.

Scruggs is looking forward to teaching upper-level math. She has taught seventh-grade math at Country Day for four years in the past.

“The greatest challenge will be teaching geometry, since I have never taught that before,” Scruggs said.

Scruggs will miss the affection that fifth graders show towards their teacher. “But believe it or not, I do like middle-school students,” she said with a smile.

Jane Gillette, the current second-grade teacher, will be filling the position left open by Scruggs. Gillette finds the changes in the lower and middle school “energizing.”

When presented with the idea, Gillette was hesitant to teach the fifth grade because she loves teaching second grade. However, after consideration, she decided that it was a “good time to change.”

She is thrilled with the change, having taught the same curriculum for 11 years.

Sophomore Lauren Larrabee was in Gillette’s class in second grade.   She feels that future second graders will miss out on an important tradition.

Every year, at Thanksgiving,  Gillette would have the students paint pictures from Turkey’s Gift to the People, a book about Thanksgiving. Along with their paintings, the students would write what they were thankful for.

Larrabee recalls painting a wolf. “My grandma still has mine in her house,” Larrabee said.

Larrabee hopes that Sue Goodwin, the first-grade teacher who will be replacing Gillette, will continue this tradition.

Goodwind plans on continuing the tradition.

Goodwin is excited to work with 29-year-old Alexis Covey, ‘02, the other second-grade teacher, in the hopes that she will learn how to incorporate more technology into her curriculum.

Kristi Mathisen, the kindergarten teacher, will be succeeding Goodwin. While Mathisen is pleased about the change, she will miss teaching kindergarten.

“There is a sweetness and naivete that comes with four- and five-year-olds. It’s their first time at school. It’s a family experience,” Mathisen said.

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