ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Teachers, administrators and community members are advocating for a big change at an Albuquerque elementary school. The idea is to rename Eubank Elementary, in honor of one educator’s legacy.
Eubank Elementary is Albuquerque Public Schools’ first Arts Integrated School in the district. That’s part of the reason why teachers say changing its name would be the perfect way to honor Janet Kahn, a woman who dedicated her life to bringing students the arts.
Music and art play a major role when it comes to education at Eubank Elementary.
“They find a way to express themselves, they find a way to bring life and joy into their learning,” explained Luis Delgado, Director of Fine Arts for APS.
However, fine arts wasn’t always offered in APS elementary schools.
“New Mexico is a very artful state, and for many years in the mid to late 80s, 90s, all the arts were cut in the elementary schools,” explained Delgado.
Twenty years ago, Janet Kahn set out to build an elementary arts program in Albuquerque Public Schools.
“She was the most strong advocate I think I have ever come across,” Julie Rombach-Kendall, an APS music teacher, told KRQE News 13.
Rombach-Kendall was hired in 1996 when the program started, and worked closely with Kahn.
“Janet was the kind of person that just made you feel individually special, every teacher felt special,” said Rombach-Kendall.
Fellow educators, including Delgado, who worked with Kahn for more than 16 years, have seen the fruits of her labor come to life in a program that’s more than tripled in size.
“You go to any elementary school, and you will see beautiful art, you will hear wonderful musical performances and drama because of the impact that this lady has had,” Delgado told News 13.
Kahn retired in 2012, and stayed active in the schools. She was later diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and died in January.
“I came to Janet Kahn for support,” said Christy Sigmon, Principal of Eubank Elementary Academy of Fine Arts. “She was my mentor.”
Now, Sigmon and others are advocating to honor Kahn’s legacy in a big way; to rename Eubank Elementary School in her name.
Changing the name of a school is something APS rarely does.
“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” said Rombach-Kendall. “A perfect homage to her.”
With support from the community, Sigmon presented her case during Tuesday’s APS board Policy Committee meeting.
“I had to have 60 percent of the staff agree, I had 90 percent,” said Sigmon. “I had to have 100 families sign, and I had 120.”
The board’s policy committee unanimously approved the name change Tuesday.
“I’m really proud, I’m really excited, I’m really honored to be able to fulfill her legacy,” Sigmon told KRQE News 13.
“We all hope that we can make a difference in people’s lives and she has, and I hope she sees that.”
Wednesday, the full APS Board of Education will need to officially approve the name change at its meeting. As it turns out, board members will also be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fine arts program at that meeting.
APS has not changed the name of a school in more than 30 years.
Eubank Elementary will also break ground on a new building next spring, so the name change, Sigmon said, will be perfect for the school’s re-branding.