Art teacher puts his mark on schools—again

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Friday, March 30, 2012
— After three decades, the Janesville School District has changed its logo.

The old and the new logos have nothing in common except the words "School District of Janesville," but behind the scenes, there's a strong connection.

Robert Hackbarth designed the original logo in 1979. It was one of many commissions he undertook in his graphic design business.

Hackbarth also designed the new logo, more than 30 years later. The committee picking the new design didn't know the names of the artists. The judges didn't even know who had created the old logo.

The logo is the graphic representation of the committee's work, which included rewriting statements that spell out the district's purpose, its goals and plans for making those dreams come true.

The logos—both of them—spring from the mind of a man who taught at the old Marshall Middle School in the early 1970s. Hackbarth later taught in Milwaukee before returning to Janesville to start a graphic design business.

Hackbarth returned to teaching in 2000. Today, he's a Parker High School art teacher.

When Hackbarth heard the district was holding a contest for the design of its new logo, he saw a challenge: Could he do it again?

He could, but consider the odds: The committee chose Hackbarth's design out of nearly 100 entries from district staff, students and community members, said Mike Kuehne, committee chairman and retired Janesville principal.

"I was pretty surprised, because you never know what's going to happen with something like that, especially when it goes to a large committee," Hackbarth said.

The committee's main task was to come up with a new strategic plan for the district.

The committee, comprising district administrators, other staff and community members, changed the district's vision statement from "Education is our Investment in the Future" to "Educational Excellence: Building Our Future."

It changed the mission statement from a 25-word sentence to just eight words: "To serve our community by educating every child."

It also went into detail on the district's long-term goals and plans for reaching those goals. Here are a few tidbits:

-- "Require all students to become involved in a community service learning project."

-- "Align all curriculum to national standards. Focus on skills."

-- "Teach and model financial literacy."

-- "Teach healthy eating habits in our health classes and reinforce those lessons in our food service choices."

-- "Use local businesses and resources to creatively support district and student needs."

-- "Survey employers on the preparation and quality of (Janesville) graduates."

-- "Market and showcase high-performing students and staff."

-- "Market and promote the (district) as a preferred choice based on student achievement data, staff skills and training, community partnerships, 21st century innovative state-of-the-art programs and facilities."

The school board approved the vision and mission statement without comment Tuesday. The board gave the logo—and Hackbarth—a round of applause.

Hackbarth won an iPad in the contest as well as the satisfaction of having his creation stamped on district documents for years to come.

Last updated: 7:49 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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