TomWolff looks back over 3 years as Warde liaison

Tom Wolff, the Fairfield Warde High School student liaison to the Board of Education, was honored for his service during a "Moment of Pride" at last week's board meeting. Wolff and fellow student liaison Sarah Finlaw, from Fairfield Ludlowe High School, were given gift certificates to Borders Books from Superintendent of Schools Ann Clark.

Wolff is the more vocal of the two student liaisons. Last week, he out about the healthy school lunch program (in which school districts must adhere to state guidelines), which Fairfield's board opted to take part in. He raised the point that, under the policy, school clubs might not be able to effectively raise money if they can't sell candy, pizza and the like, as they do now.

Wolff, who served as a student liaison for three years, in the following interview talks about his experiences in that role.

Were you picked from a pool of potential student liaisons? Were there others in the running?

The Fairfield Warde Student Forum appoints one to two student liaisons from within its organization to the Board of Education each year. Generally, new representatives are appointed when the preceding one graduates. In my case, I volunteered and was chosen alongside Dan Prior [who left the position for other pursuits] at the beginning of my sophomore year.

What did it open your eyes to that you had no clue about?

I think my experiences with the Fairfield Board of Education have made me think of the process of educating a town's youth as a cycle. The children are clearly the emphasis of this cycle, and must answer to their teachers. Teachers must answer to administrators, and administrators the board. Interestingly enough, the members of the board have to answer to the townspeople who elect them, whose children attend the schools, thereby completing the cycle. Where the student mainly has to focus on his education, it's up to the other members of this process to ensure it goes smoothly and efficiently.

What are some of the topics that have come before the board that stand out in your mind above all the others?

I find myself very passionate about discussions on curriculum. As a prospective teacher of English and/or history, I have an idealistic stance on how education should be facilitated. That being said, I realize from my years on the board that an ideal is never practical or feasible, and thus take great interest in how the schools manage to passionately teach the children of Fairfield while at the same time meeting the mandates of the townspeople, the state and the federal government alike.

You've had some late nights with the Board of Education. On those next days, when you had school, were you alert or did your work with the board affect you in class?

I'm a very devoted student, and my studies always take priority. I think I've always been focused, for the most part.

Would you recommend the position to other students? Why?

It's certainly a resume-booster, I'll give you that. Just be prepared to make the commitment and actually participate. The board appreciates actual feedback, and not a filled seat.

On what topic do you think you were able to offer the board the most insight, from a student's point of view? The board members obviously aren't seeing things on a day-to-day basis, up close and personal, like you are.

A couple of moments that really shined were first, my contributions in the discussion of the social studies curriculum earlier this year. Again, it showed both my concern for education and my unique perspective as a student. Secondly, I think I went out with a bang in the discussion of state limitations on goods sold at bake sales, arguing that those limited foods were the livelihood of certain student organizations.

If you had the power to change anything in the school system, what would you change?

Again, I'm an idealist when it comes to education, and I have my own priorities in education that I realize are impractical to implement on a town-wide level. I've learned a lot from my time on the board, but I don't think I'm that familiar with the system to demand any sort of big change.

You wanted to be a part of the Board of Education, work alongside the education board. Do you perhaps already know that you want to work in government, or has it influenced at all to perhaps head in that direction?

Government isn't for me; education is. Thus, my involvement with the board had to do with my career plans, just in a different direction.