Getting to Know Shane Wolfe
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Getting to Know Shane Wolfe

When Shane Wolfe walks down the corridors of Armstrong Elementary School, he gets hi’s, hello’s and high-fives. As assistant principal at the school, Wolfe has emphasized the need to build community partnerships that benefit Armstrong. All his hard work was recently recognized.

The Fairfax County Public Schools’ Department of Business and Community Relations gave Wolfe the Bruce Oliver Leadership Award. Given in conjunction with the Navy Federal Credit Union, the award recognizes the coordination and leadership of school principals in a business partnership. Wolfe is this week’s profile.

Number of years living in the community:

I moved to Northern Virginia six years ago. Prior to that, I lived in Atlanta, Ga. No, that’s not where my southern accent comes from. I actually grew up in a small town called Low Moor, back in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia.

About you and your family:

I grew up living with my mother, who served as both mom and dad to me. She, in my opinion, was the best mom (and dad) in the world. We lived in a very low socio-economic neighborhood, where most people barely had enough money to survive on a day-to-day basis. Everyone worked very hard if they were lucky enough to have a job. My grandfather worked for the railroad and my grandmother worked at a small take-out restaurant called the Dairy Bar. My grandparents and I were very close since we lived next door to each other. My grandma and I became best friends since I did not usually have anyone else to play with as a child. My mother worked two to three jobs at a time to make sure we had enough money to have a small, but very neat and tidy, mobile home to live in. She always made sure that I had everything I needed to be successful in school, including good clothes. She always instilled the importance of education in me, which I now pass along to so many other children. Currently, I live with a close friend of mine, Michael and my son Austin, who is 10 years old. Austin came into my life about seven years ago and has brought so much joy to me and my family. I am so lucky to have him as part of my life.

Education:

Obviously education is very important to me. I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher and knew I had to find a way to go to college to be able to become a teacher. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Spencer always told me that I could do it and nothing would hold me back if I wanted something bad enough. She sure was right! I currently have a Bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Radford University and a Master’s degree in education administration from the University of Virginia. I hold certifications in Elementary Education and Education Administration Grades K through 12. I will continue to pursue my goal of having my doctorate throughout the next few years.

Current Job:

I currently have the best job in the world. It is so rewarding to get to work with children and teachers each and everyday. I am the assistant principal at Armstrong Elementary School and I love every minute of it. Armstrong has a very supportive group of students, teachers, parents and community members. There is nothing I would rather do ... except become a principal one day.

Achievements:

The biggest achievement of my life was overcoming a physical disability called Kyphosis. Kyphosis is a curvature of the spine where your spine curves outward causing great pain and an awkward physical appearance of your back. When I was 11 years old, we started noticing the problem. Later that year, I was fitted for a plastic, cast-like brace that I wore for 23 hours each day from the time I was in sixth grade until I graduated from high school. The brace went from my neck to below my waist line and encircled my mid section with straps in the back. I could only take it off long enough to shower. I was kind of like a turtle in it. If I was ever fell flat on my back, I had to have someone help me get up. I still have a little bit of the curve, but thank goodness for the dedication of my mother and the doctors at UVa. for my recovery.

Another one of the biggest achievements in my life was graduating from college. Being the first person in my family to graduate from college was not only my goal, but a goal of my friends and family. Everyone worked very hard to help me get to university, collect enough furniture to make it and my mom always made sure that I had plenty of food. When I graduated, it was so nice to see my family out in the audience watching me graduate. I was so happy that I could make them so proud. It was a wonderful feeling.

Activities/interests/hobbies:

As a dad first and school administrator second, it leaves very little time for leisurely activities. However, when I take a long weekend, I usually like to travel. I love to travel to Florida. I enjoy warm climates, especially when it is cold back home. I love looking for great travel deals on the internet. I also like playing around with real estate in my spare time. We have two dogs at home that we adore, Ginger and Peanut. They are enough to keep anyone busy.

Favorite local restaurant:

My favorite restaurant is my mom’s down-home southern kitchen. I love everything — well, almost everything — she cooks. I am always a VIP there too. Second to that is my favorite "hang out," Starbucks! Anyone who knows me knows that I love a Venti, two-percent latte.

Community Concerns:

I am really concerned about the gang activity in Northern Virginia. I do think that we will be able to get it under control if we all continue to work together. The dedicated men and women of the Fairfax County Police Department in Reston are trying to keep gangs out of our schools, but it’s going to take all of us working together to get rid of the problem completely.

Community Hidden Treasure:

Kids R First, which helps nearly 5,000 needy children in Reston, in elementary schools as well as high schools, with school supplies and materials and registration fees for SATs. This is a wonderful organization. They can be contacted by writing to: Kids R First, P.O. Box 3242, Reston, VA 20195.