New Fine and Applied Arts chair takes center stage

DHS students may remember former Fine Arts and Applied Arts Department Chair Mrs. Johnson, who retired following 26 years with the DHS community at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. After having a chair whose presence in the DHS community was so deeply rooted and valued within the school, her recently-hired successor—Ms. Dee Bolos-Hartman—is a fresh face at DHS. Although she may have some big shoes to fill, Bolos-Hartman certainly seems to be more than up to the challenge.

Before coming to DHS, Bolos-Hartman did her fair share of work at other high schools and found herself working under various career titles. Her background in the arts, however, has roots much deeper than her current work in education.

“Being a teacher was actually a second career for me,” she explained. “I was an actor for a number of years in Chicago. So I have a background in theatre and the arts, and I taught theatre for many years in high school.”

Once she started working in education, BolosHartman took positions in various different fields throughout her many year of high school teaching. She taught English and Theatre before moving into administrative roles. While working in Chicago Public Schools, Bolos-Hartman was part of a network leadership team, which was a catalyst that led her to her current post.

“What we did was coach teachers, principals, and assistant principals on anything from their curriculum and their instructional decisions, to developing a literacy plan, working with their instructional leadership teams, and things like that,” she recalled.

Eventually, she heard about the opening for a new Applied and Fine Arts Department Chair at DHS from a friend. Bolos-Hartman was excited for the opportunity, as she had heard great things about the Deerfield atmosphere. “I’ve always heard that Deerfield was an amazing school, and I’ve had friends who have gone to Deerfield, and I have some really close friends who live in the community.” Bolos-Hartman also missed teaching and being around the arts, and as DHS is known for its great art programs, it was a perfect fit.

As one would think, the process of acquiring an open position here at DHS is rather intensive. The district first posts the opening on a website that teachers and administrators across the country can see. There’s a lot of work that goes into application, including preliminary background checks. Some candidates will get phone interviews, and those who are selected get in-person interviews with a committee from the department in question, that gives feedback. The next level is yet another round of interviews with the administration, who review all the information gathered and make the ultimate decision.

Evidently, Bolos-Hartman was selected for the position. She’s made a smooth transition thus far, and although the role of department chair can seem a little overwhelming, she has adjusted quickly and is more than ready to tackle her new responsibilities.

“The hard part about having a department where everyone has a different specialty is that more likely than not your department chair won’t be in your area of expertise. But that being said Ms. Bolos-Hartman is an artist, she is an actress and she knows the world of the arts.” Fine Arts teacher and Choir Director Mrs. Alicia Akers added.

Bolos-Hartman is taking this new role very seriously, and has jumped head-first into her responsibilities as the Department Chair. She is dedicated to helping students by being the best department chair that she can be, which she says includes being “as honest and transparent as possible”. “Our job as administrators is to look at the district and look at the schools to try and make decisions that are best for students,” Bolos-Hartman explained. “Whether that be curriculum, whether that be policies that help students feel safe in school. I do a lot, the job has a lot of expectations, but really when it comes down to the bottom of it, it’s to make sure that we are doing what is best for kids.” In addition to her responsibilities as Fine and Applied Art Department Chair, Bolos-Hartman also teaches a freshman advisory class first period. Maya Symonanis, one of the senior advisors in Bolos-Hartman’s class, is excited to be working with her this year. “I have never worked side by side with a department chair before, so I was definitely nervous going into it,” Symonanis said. “She’s super easy to talk to, she is very flexible with the ideas my co-advisor and I have for the class and she really wants to get to know each student personally. You can tell she has a passion for her job and working with students, so it’s fun to work off of that and make advisory a place where everyone feels welcome and excited to be a student at DHS.” And Bolos-Hartman is already bringing a lot to the
school’s environment. “I definitely think she brings a new perspective to DHS that is super welcoming and fun,” Symonanis continued. “She is a great fit at DHS and adjusting well to the department she runs.” Akers is also very excited for what the new department chair has to offer. “Ms. Bolos Hartman has a different perspective coming from the professional world, so she has contacts and experiences that I think she will bring to our department,” she said. “[Bolos-Hartman] has incredible fire and drive and she seems like she is a real go-getter so I am excited for the opportunities she is going to represent for us.” Bolos-Hartman, in turn, is just as impressed by the staff, students, and overall DHS atmosphere. “My senior advisors are really awesome,” she said. “My department is AMAZING. The teachers and the staff are so thoughtful and smart and good at what they do. They’re really making my job easy. My intent for the first few months is to just try and get to know everybody personally and go to their classrooms and see what they do . . . so far so good!” Bolos-Hartman does certainly seem to be off to a promising start as department chair, already making her mark in the school. She is determined to do her part to make DHS a great and welcoming environment. “I hope that I can continue to make this a better place for students, for teachers, for the community, and to do the best that I can everyday,” she explained. “I often say that If I can go home and I am tired, then I have done everything that I could to help students and teachers. I just want to continue showing up and advocating for all students and teachers, and doing what I need to do to get things done.”