Gillian Thorpe was elected a trustee of the Haldane Board of Education last spring. Thorpe, who serves as Library Director for the Julia L. Butterfield Library in Cold Spring, recently sat down with Philipstown.info’s Michael Turton for a wide ranging interview. They discussed everything from her views on the most pressing issues that the school board faces, and how Haldane has changed since she attended the school in the 1970’s, to her cooking preferences and what’s on her iPod.
Philipstown.info: So, are you a true Cold Springer?
Thorpe: Technically, not. I was already three weeks old when we moved here. My husband Lou is a true Springer though.
Philipstown.info: Were there specific issues that motivated you to run for trustee?
Thorpe: I really just wanted to serve the community. I’ve always been involved – with the Chamber of Commerce, the Haldane Foundation. I do have a passion for education but I don’t have a personal agenda.
Philipstown.info: What did you learn during the election campaign itself?
Thorpe: I dove into learning about the New York State education system. I mean, I knew it needed to be reformed, but I was shocked. I saw to what extent our hands are tied as a school board.
Philipstown.info: What area of education interests you most?
Thorpe: Technology. I love it. I embrace it my personal life and at the library. I’d like to see the school embrace it even more.
Philipstown.info: Speaking of technology – what do you have on your iPod?
Thorpe: Dave Matthews for sure. Pearl Jam. The Band.
Philipstown.info: Where did you attend college?
Thorpe: Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia.
Philipstown.info: You went to Haldane. How do you think things have changed since then?
Thorpe: I actually think the kids seem more controlled now. I was here in the late 70’s. There was more vandalism then, more graffiti. Kids are busier now. They’re more involved in athletics and other things. There’s less time spent just hanging around.
Philipstown.info: As director of the Butterfield Library what’s the biggest asset you bring to the school board?
Thorpe: Dealing with the public. Dealing with tax payers’ money – and spending it responsibly.
Philipstown.info: What does the director of Butterfield library like to read?
Thorpe: I’m not a reader of fiction, but I like to read most anything that’s nonfiction – memoirs – and I love history
Philipstown.info: What do you see as the number one issue that the school board must address this year?
Thorpe: A tax hike. Money is drying up. With less money coming in, something has to give.
Philipstown.info: What issue do you see as the runner up?
Thorpe: We have a lot of new people this year. We hired a new athletic director, guidance counselor, librarian, music teacher etc. They will have a lot of catching up to do, learning to work as a team
Philipstown.info: Where do you fit into the political spectrum?
Thorpe: I’m registered Republican, but I’m probably as liberal as you can be in that category. I don’t believe in big government.
Philipstown.info: Who are some of your heroes?
Thorpe: My parents. And in terms of people I read about – Winston Churchill, Mark Twain.
Philipstown.info: Do you think bullying is a problem at Haldane?
Thorpe: I think bullying is part of human nature. Adults do it too – they just do it differently. I think they have a great program at Haldane to deal with it.
Philipstown.info: What is your favorite place to vacation?
Thorpe: Prince Edward Island. I went there as a kid several times. And I went there on my honeymoon – but I didn’t tell my husband it was the first place where I kissed a boy.
Philipstown.info: If you could add one thing to Haldane what would it be? A facility, a teacher, a program?
Thorpe: I think we have already started to address it – but more counseling. We need to set up a dynamic that kids will trust and use. They need to have someone they can go to without feeling they’ll get in trouble.
Philipstown.info: You are also a Haldane parent. How do you rate the school up to this point?
Thorpe: I love it. I have a junior, a sophomore and a fifth grader here. I moved back from Chicago so they could go to school here.
Philipstown.info: What is the best local, community event in your opinion?
Thorpe: Big Truck Day. I’m a little biased.
Philipstown.info: Haldane is a small school. How do the pros stack up against the cons?
Thorpe: I definitely think the pros outweigh the cons. It’s a small community – you expect a small school. The teacher to student ratio is good. And I can call the principal and she actually calls me back.
Philipstown.info: Last but not least, what is your favorite dish to cook?
Thorpe: Anything I can reheat. My husband Lou does the cooking.