Toby Sorensen is serving her first term as the City of Fairfax School Board Chairman, and her fourth term as a school board member.
Sorensen has represented the city on the county superintendent’s Business and Community Advisory Council for three years. She is a past PTA president of Fairfax High, Lanier Middle, and Layton Hall (now Daniels Run) Elementary schools. She has served as the Country Club Hills Civic Association treasurer and newsletter editor and is currently a block captain. She was also co-chair of the City School Board Facilities Planning Committee, a member of the Fairfax Community Coalition, and, for a number of years, a Girl Scout Cookie chair.
Q: You’ve been involved with City schools for many years as a parent, employee and as a school board member. What have been some of the highlights for you?
A: The support of our community when it came time to vote on the bonds needed to renovate our four city schools was a highlight, as well as when the Hispanic students at Fairfax High School met and exceeded state goals on the SOL’s. However, I don’t think anything could surpass the thrill of Dr. Craig Mello, a 1978 graduate of Fairfax High, winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2006. I felt so much pride for him, the city he grew up in, and the American public school system that nurtured such a scientist.
Q: What are some of the goals for you and the School Board this year?
A: We need to evaluate the near- and mid-range capital needs for our school buildings so that the School Board, Mayor, and City Council can prepare financially for those needs. We also need to study the growth patterns of student population and anticipate the effect of future development in the city on this growth.
Q: What are some programs you are excited about in the City schools?
A: The environmental programs at our schools are amazing. They have helped make our school buildings greener, and even very young students are learning the scientific method in a hands-on way. Elementary students are exposed to Chinese or Spanish lessons, and by high school they can choose from among six foreign languages.
Q: What have been some major changes in the schools since your own kids went through the City schools? What has remained the same?
A: My children began attending city schools in 1990 and the youngest graduated in 2005. The size and mix of the school population has changed, there are now foreign languages taught in elementary school, engineering techniques are being introduced in class, theater productions are much more professional, and there are more opportunities for advanced learners and much more support for struggling students. What hasn’t changed is the wonderful neighborhood feeling in our schools and the exposure to caring and dedicated teachers.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do in the City Schools throughout the year?
A: I love attending plays, performances, and art shows. Reading to the little kids is also great fun. What I particularly enjoy is talking to students in small groups about their education. They are so insightful, and adult leaders make a great mistake if they don’t listen to them and take their opinions seriously!