An art teacher touched lives

An Appreciation Thomas Allen Fox

April 07, 2006|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV,SUN REPORTER

During his 26 years of teaching art in the Howard County school system, Thomas Allen Fox touched the lives of students and staff alike.

"The testimonials from parents and students have been phenomenal," said Cathy Bejm, a central office administrative secretary who is a friend of the Fox family. "Story after story you hear the impact he's had on a child's life."

Today, members of the school community will have the opportunity to pay their last respects to Fox, 49, who died Monday of kidney cancer.

A viewing and visitation will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at Grace Community Church, 8200 Old Columbia Road in Fulton. A funeral service will be held at 5 p.m. with a reception at 6 p.m.

Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville.

Laura Walters, an administrative assistant at Clarksville Elementary School - where Fox most recently split time teaching art with Elkridge Elementary - has organized a fund for Fox's family. Funds collected will be given to the family to help with college tuition and expenses, said Walters.

"He was a kind, kind man," said Walters, who had collected $800 this week.

Former students, co-workers and friends have flooded the Fox family with letters of support this week, said Walters.

Earl Slacum, administrative director of elementary schools, became friends with Fox when they worked at Phelps Luck Elementary School in 1988.

"He made people around him so much happier," Slacum said. "[When we went to the hospital], he uplifted our spirits. Tom was one of those real people. He had great relationships with students, staff and with parents and the community."

Slacum visited Fox at Johns Hopkins Hospital on March 10 with Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin, Sandra Erickson, chief administrative and academic officer, and chief of staff Mamie J. Perkins. The four presented Fox with the Howard County Career Elementary Teacher of the Year Award.

"Tom was an outstanding art teacher and person," Slacum said. "Not only did he teach them art, but he served as an outstanding mentor."

Fox began his career as an art teacher at Phelps Luck Elementary in 1980. He went on to teach at Worthington Elementary and came back to Phelps Luck from 1986 to 2003.

This year, Fox received the Career Elementary Teacher of the Year Award from the Maryland Art Education Association.

"He was an absolutely excellent teacher," said Fox's wife of 26 years, the former Joyce Hofmeister. "He was a natural teacher."

Joyce Fox, who teaches business at Mount Hebron High, added: "When he got to college he discovered he liked art and liked kids and decided that was the direction he wanted to go."

Fox, who grew up in Baltimore, graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1975. Fox went on to graduate from then-Towson State College in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree. In 1987, he earned a master of education degree from Towson.

In college, he reunited with Joyce - a childhood friend. They married in 1979.

"Because I had him, I had evidence that God loves me," said Joyce Fox from her Ellicott City home. "He was a wonderful husband and a wonderful father."

Fox also is survived by two sons, Bryan and Blayne; and a brother, the Rev. Charles Fox.

Donations to the Tom Fox Family Fund can be sent to the attention of Laura Walters, c/o Clarksville Elementary School, 12041 Route 108, Clarksville 21029.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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