A Prescription For Success

Dr. Tom Phelps Concludes His Term as School Board Member

Superintendent Markwardt awards Dr. Phelps

Superintendent Markwardt awards Dr. Phelps

Many of you in Chesterland know Dr. Thomas Phelps as a well – known, respected pediatrician. He has been a part, for close to 30 years now, of this community. He and his wife, Judy, moved to Chesterland 27 years ago and, over the last three years, they have lived in Novelty. Dr. and Mrs. Phelps have four children and three dogs. His kids all attended West Geauga at some point in their schooling and their youngest, Ricky, is presently a junior here at the high school. What some of you might not know is that Dr. Phelps also served his community as a member of the West G. School Board.

Being a part of the “community” and serving has been a core value that has guided Dr. Phelps. When he was young, his family moved every four years and he said, “Having my roots in one place has been a never ending joy.”

Dr. Phelps served one four-year term with the board after being elected to office. He was a board “member” the first three years and Vice President the last year. At the end of his four year term he said, “I had the choice to run for re-election. The school board is a very important commitment in time, energy and dedication.” Dr. Phelps did not resign but rather chose not to run again. Dr. Phelps feels his biggest contribution was helping to guide a decision making process that was affecting many students’ lives and the community, regarding open enrollment. The community was polarized. Dr. Phelps said, “I feel the board I left found a peace that will serve as a guiding light to future boards and the community. Every member should have a voice and the community needs to hear and understand that voice.”

With his family is where he now spends his free time. Graduating away from being UBER dad (after teaching four drivers), he now enjoy the outdoors, walking and exercising. Dr. Phelps is also interested in the trends affecting health care for our country. In his practice he sees newborns through the age of 22 years. “Personal medical care to children and families is not a job for me, rather it is a passion,” he said. “I try to treat every patient as I would want a member of my family treated.”

Dr. Phelps came to the board, optimistic that he could be a member of a TEAM. He also noted that he came into the board without an agenda, wanting to understand the issues. He hoped all involved would share and communicate their thoughts for the “best” of the students and community. He said his biggest regret, early on, was, “…being labeled without understanding and without delivering a clear message.” A lack of communication, he felt, fed polarization, also noting that a, “Lack of communication builds walls.”

While on the board, Dr. Phelps said he was, “Touched by the passion for education delivered by many of the teachers and administrators.” Dr. Phelps was also touched by the dedicated support staff. He said being a member of the school board helped him connect to the community in many ways. “The school is vital asset of the community, as well as a reflection of [that] community. What did he like the least ? “Politics is personal. As an elected official, you are judged, as you should be, but the information [people use to judge you] is not always accurate.

When asked if he had a “final” message for students or community as whole, he recalled the thoughts of a 27 year old Australian woman who passed away recently from cancer: “Give, Give, Give. It is true you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself.”  He also hopes people will try just enjoying and being in the moments, rather than capturing them through the screen of their phones. “Life isn’t meant to be lived through a screen, nor is it about getting the perfect photo: listen to music, listen to the birds, cuddle your dog/cat, talk to your friends and listen.”

Dr. Phelps summed it up with one of his guiding quotes. “Your children will become who you are: so be who you want them to be.”