January 10, 2005: Headlines: COS - Albania: Marriage: The Register Guard: Mike Fox is joining his wife, Rebekah Lambert, who is about midway through a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Elbasan, Albania

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Albania: Peace Corps Albania : The Peace Corps in Albania: January 10, 2005: Headlines: COS - Albania: Marriage: The Register Guard: Mike Fox is joining his wife, Rebekah Lambert, who is about midway through a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Elbasan, Albania

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Mike Fox is joining his wife, Rebekah Lambert, who is about midway through a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Elbasan, Albania

Mike Fox is joining his wife, Rebekah Lambert, who is about midway through a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Elbasan, Albania

Mike Fox is joining his wife, Rebekah Lambert, who is about midway through a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Elbasan, Albania

Education Extra / Faces and Places: Longtime board member ready to teach in Albania

Caption: Mike Fox, who has been on the Eugene School Board since 1992, will join his wife, a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania, and teach seniors about democracy and citizenship. Photo: Wayne Eastburn / The Register-Guard

Name: Mike Fox

Occupation: Semiretired attorney

School connection: He has been on the Eugene School Board since 1992. He's resigning effective Jan. 18.

Why he's leaving: He's joining his wife, Rebekah Lambert, who is about midway through a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Elbasan, Albania. He did not plan to run for re-election in May, but had intended to complete his term, which ends June 30. But he was invited to teach a class at the University "Aleksander Xhuvani" in Elbasan. He'll be teaching 20 seniors about American-style democracy and citizenship, topics he says most Albanians know precious little about. "I'm going to try to awaken in them a sense of what it really means to be a citizen in one's country," he said.

A vote he'll miss: Early next month, Superintendent George Russell will bring the board his recommendations on ways to change the district's open school choice system so it's more equitable and accessible. It's a controversial issue, given the popularity of the current system of neighborhood and alternative schools. While Fox said he's disappointed that he won't get to vote, he wanted to resign early enough so the new board member has time to get up to speed.

About Albania: Fox, who has visited there twice, says the country has spectacular mountain scenery but a woefully underdeveloped system of government and virtually nonexistent civic involvement. "The idea of an Albanian coming down to testify before the city council would be probably unheard of," he said, noting the country's relatively recent transition from a repressive Communist dictatorship. With about 3.5 million people, it's roughly the size of Lane, Douglas and Coos counties combined, he said. He visited several schools there, and was struck by how shoddy the buildings, furnishings and materials were compared with what he sees in Eugene. "There was no central heating, kids three to a desk," he said. "It was fairly appalling."

Age: 58

Hometown: Born in Texas, he moved repeatedly as a child, but spent most of his youth in the West.

Family: A longtime bachelor, Fox will celebrate his second wedding anniversary in May. Lambert is the former executive director of the Eugene Symphony, on whose board Fox served from 1976 through 2002. He has no children.

Education: B.A., philosophy, Holy Cross College, Worcester, Mass.; J.D., University of Oregon Law School.

On the district: He calls Russell an "absolutely fabulous" superintendent, and has high praise for the organization's sound fiscal planning, accountability to the public and focus on excellence.

And the board: It's "the finest elected body in the state of Oregon," he said. Through the years, its members have avoided grandstanding and honed a spirit of collaboration that applies to all decision-making. "This is why we are able to accomplish a great deal," he said.

Why he ran for school board: It wasn't his idea. He was encouraged to run by former board member Sue Miller, who called him and asked him to. "I said, `Are you crazy?' " he recalled. Though he never had kids and was single for most of his term, that didn't mean he was unconcerned about the school system. "Kids are the future, for Pete's sake," he said.

Toughest vote: It may have been the votes three years ago to close Whiteaker and Bailey Hill elementary schools, given the depth of community opposition. But he says he has no regrets about those or any other votes.

Of course, he said, cutting budgets never got easy, even though he got used to it. "When you look at all the things that 4J has lost during my tenure, it's just heartbreaking," he said.

What his colleagues say: Craig Smith called him "the comma king," former board member Jan Oliver "the grammar god." But besides his attention to detail, they said he brought a unique and useful perspective to the board as someone with no direct stake in the school system but with strong ties to the business and arts community. He also will be remembered for his candor, they said.

"Mike is certainly not reticent to express his opinion," Smith said. "And you never know what Mike's going to say before he says it."

Fox said he doesn't spend much time worrying about saying the wrong thing. "I've always liked to kind of focus the issue and I think by being blunt you focus the issues," he said. "And if somebody says I'm not politically correct, well, I don't take that as a badge of dishonor."

Heros: Among national figures, he admires Harry Truman, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall and, to a lesser extent, Ronald Reagan.

High school days: He attended a Jesuit high school in Denver, where he played violin, debated and performed in school plays. He also went through "a quasi-jock phase" and worked as an athletic trainer and assistant. "I wasn't particularly athletic myself," he said.

Current reading: An avid reader, he just finished "Cod," by Mark Kurlansky, about the New England fishing industry. Lately he has been reading lots about the history of Albania.

Pastimes: Attending the symphony, seeing plays (especially at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), fly-fishing and white-water boating.

Future: He'll still do a bit of lawyering when he returns, and also hopes to get involved in new volunteer endeavors. "Maybe I'll pull a (Mayor Jim) Torrey," he said, referring to the former mayor's commitment to reading to schoolchildren.

- Anne Williams

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: The Register Guard

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Albania; Marriage



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