After many years of inspiring students to capture the moment and be creative, FHS photography teacher Tom Falkowski will be retiring. He started by teaching photography, Art 1 and pottery in 1989. Then, for about six years, he taught photography and pottery before transitioning into just photography and photography II.
Falkowski finished graduate school in Michigan at Cranbrook Academy of Art. He also attended Memphis Academy of Arts for a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1994-1978. In 1978 he pursued a Masters in Fine Arts finishing in 1980. He attended West Virginia University Education and Academics in 1986-87 on a teaching scholarship to take education classes. He also attended Northern Virginia Community College for Calculus and Virginia Commonwealth University for Photography. “I continued with school to earn 30 hours over my Master’s Degree. That was important to me,” said Falkowski.
Falkowski bought property for sale in Fauquier County and built an art studio. He then started substituting in the county and at Wakefield Country Day School. He also taught drawing at Lord Fairfax Community College and first through sixth grade at the Academic Enrichment Center in Washington, D.C. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Eventually, he applied to FHS and got the job.
Falkowski previously strived for “students to learn as much technical and aesthetic photography as possible.” Eight years ago, he “realized it was more important that they learn how to work together and grow as a group. According to Falkowski, this was still the case during the pandemic. “Although they could not share cameras and darkroom space, the most successful students were able to share ideas, look at each other’s photos for ideas and discuss compositional elements and meanings in photographs.
Outside of teaching Falkowski enjoys photography, pottery, beekeeping, sailing, kayaking, hiking, swimming, gardening and building. He will go on to teach small groups in his pottery studio called Potters Peace Studio, sail, relax and take photos.
Deciding to leave this year was “a slow process,” said Falkowski. He is retiring because he does not feel he has “quiet enough energy to keep up with the demands of a Photography Department. The Photography Lab has many features that need continuous attention, and all the techniques and procedures need to be taught to an energetic crowd of youth.”
He has appreciated his time at FHS, calling it “ a continuous ‘Another Day in Paradise’” and “a growing experience.” Additionally, he enjoyed the “students’ excitement when catching on to something or experiencing success in a particular project,” the staff and the campus.