Update: Wolf will resign from the Friday Harbor Town Council to teach in Qatar
February 9, 2009 · Updated 9:23 AM
Editor's note: This story corrects information in 10th paragraph and adds details regarding the election of Wolf's successor.
Friday Harbor Town Councilman Christopher Wolf will resign this year to take a two-year teaching assignment at the American School of Doha (www.asd.edu.qa), in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar.
Wolf will teach Advanced Placement history; his wife, Emily, will teach middle school English. They will leave Friday Harbor the first week of August, Emily said.
Emily said they learned of the opportunity at an overseas teaching fair in Waterloo, Iowa. They signed a two-year contract. She didn't know today whether they would keep their house in the Salal neighborhood. However, her husband said today, "Our goal is to come back to this community."
Councilman Wolf teaches Humanities 8, Current Events 7, and Speech & Debate 8 at Friday Harbor Middle School. His wife is library associate at the San Juan Island Library.
The Wolfs moved to San Juan Island in 2003 when Christopher was hired to teach at Friday Harbor Middle School. They quickly became involved in the community. They have two children: Greta, 6; and Nolan, 3.
Emily Wolf worked for the San Juan Island School District as a substitute teacher for two years, and worked as a volunteer and then a staff member at the library. She and her husband bought a home in the Salal neighborhood in August 2005 and she became a member of the San Juan Community Home Trust board.
Christopher Wolf was elected to the Town Council in November 2007. He took office Jan. 1, 2008; his term expires Dec. 31, 2011.
His impending resignation will be the council's third in just over two years. Howard Rosenfeld resigned Dec. 21, 2006 after being elected to the San Juan County Council. Kelley Balcomb-Bartok was appointed to the vacancy Jan. 4, 2007, was elected to complete the term in November that year but resigned June 5, 2008 to take a position with the City of Renton.
The Town Council is a legislative body. Council members adopt resolutions and ordinances, approve changes in zoning, make policy and approve the budget. Council members are paid $85 per meeting for up to four meetings per month.
Wolf said he told Mayor David Jones and Town Administrator King Fitch of his decision Thursday. He said he's not sure when he will resign. County Elections Supervisor Doris Schaller said if he resigns before June 1, his position will be on the Aug. 18 primary election ballot. If he resigns on June 1 or later, his position will go on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
Other town positions on the ballot this year: Council positions held by Anna Maria de Freitas and Liz Illg, and Mayor David Jones' position.
Middle School Principal Ann Spratt said Wolf's council service helped him take his Current Events teaching to a different level.
"It's real, he's actually experiencing that," she said. "That certainly builds for him, to be able to teach the kids what that looks like. It also speaks to his real passion for history."
Spratt said Wolf is an "excellent" teacher who will be missed. But she understood the allure of teaching in foreign country.
"It's a real good time in their lives for them to do something like this. Their children are small. It's a great time to do it."
The American School of Doha is an independent, U.S.-accredited, college preparatory school. Its Web site states that it is "committed to provide the highest standard of educational excellence, through an enriched American curriculum. We draw from, and build upon, the uniqueness of our multicultural student body while preparing students for the challenges of a rapidly changing global society."
According to the school's latest annual report, the students are from: United States, 44 percent; Canada, 12 percent; Europe, 8 percent; Asia, 7 percent; Qatar, 7 percent; Scandinavia, 7 percent; India/Pakistan, 4 percent; Africa, 3 percent; Australia/New Zealand, 3 percent; Middle East, 3 percent; Latin America, 2 percent.
"As a social studies teacher and a lover of geography and history, it will be fantastic to see how this all interacts," Wolf said.
Wolf said that as a council member, he hopes he set an example for his students "that you don't have to be older and retired to be a part of what's going on in government. You can be involved."