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    • Robert Smith conducts the Hopkins orchestra during the final piece of the Spring Concert at the Church of the Redeemer in New Haven.

A New Era of Art: Robert Smith as Chair

Katherine Takoudes ’20, Assistant Arts Editor
After eight years at Hopkins as the Instrumental Music Director and Music Theory teacher, Robert Smith will now serve as Chair of the Art Department.
In this role, Smith will oversee the thirty-fve arts classes offered to high schoolers this year, as well as the art period rotation for seventh and eighth graders.

Smith graduated from Florida State University in 2000 with a masters in Music Education. He hopped right into his frst music career, teaching orchestra at the Cobb County Schools from 2001-2003. From that point, until he found his way to Hopkins in 2009, Smith conducted the Atlantic Philharmonic Orchestra, taught strings for fve years at Pace Academy, and was the admissions counselor at the New School
in New York City for a year.

To this day, Smith is busy pursuing his passion for music education year round. Since 2010, Smith has spent his summers as the Senior Orchestra Director at the Southern Maine String Camp. In that same year, Smith was chosen to lead the Yale Medical Symphony Orchestra, which puts on concerts throughout the year.

Although Smith will still continue to be deeply involved in the school’s instrumental program, he will continue to teach and conduct only the orchestra. “We have an awesome new Instrumental Music teacher, Mr. DeVona, who will be teaching the new Hopkins Band, as well as Jazz/Rock, seventh and eighth grade Instrumental Music, as well as some Music Theory,” said Smith.

For Smith, his new role is a combination of implementing the standard duties of a department chair and catering to the specifc undertakings of the arts department. Department heads observe classes, conduct department meetings and approve course changes, to name a few jobs. “The Head of the Art Department then has a few added responsibilities,” explained Smith, “like helping to make sure
the gallery exhibits and performances are scheduled, organized and publicized, processing signups for the Junior School arts choices, and keeping a vision for the rich arts offering at Hopkins.”

Beyond the rich arts offered at school, Smith wants to integrate the art found in the New Haven community with the life and work of artists at Hopkins. “New Haven has such a vibrant arts scene... and we are fortunate to be so close to it all. I’m trying to fnd ways that we can collaborate and experience more of that energy, whether it be through joint concerts, gallery shows off-campus, or hosting a drama
workshop with other schools.”

But for those Hopkins students who would not consider themselves the defnition of an artist, Smith hopes that he can use the bigger arts culture around Hopkins to demonstrate the effect of art in everyone’s
lives. “It would be nice to further the understanding that artistry is an important facet of every one of us,” noted Smith, “as art gives personal meaning to our knowledge and experiences.”

As Head of the Art department, Smith is carrying out the legacy of Karen Klugman, who had previously held the position for twelve years. “It’s probably safe to say that anyone would feel a touch of anxiety about taking over Mrs. Klugman’s position,” remarked Smith, “ Just think of it - she built the Instrumental Music Program from scratch, hired just about every one of the teachers in the Art Department, helped design Thompson Hall, and made sure that our curriculum stood up to every one of our peer schools. In truth, I’m deeply honored to carry that legacy onward, working with some of the best students, faculty and staff on the planet.”
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