The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


What’s in store for Peter Gabor?

Peter Gabor gears up for his bid for the FCPS School Board
T. Andronescu
Peter Gabor teaches a variety of courses at Jefferson ranging from Artificial Intelligence to Machine Learning. He feels that, while some issues for the school board may seem apparent to him, others may not recognize their significance. “If elected, my purpose there would be to ask pointed questions that I think are sort of obvious,” Gabor said. “I see and interact with students every day, so I think that those types of questions are obvious anyway, but I would at least ask them to people who might not interact with students on a regular basis.”

An Intelligence analyst, a nursing home director, an aviation manager, an entrepreneur, a think-tank administrator, a writer, and a business manager. These are the people running for the Fairfax County School Board on Nov. 7, and yet, none of them are teachers. 

Until now. 

Jefferson’s AI teacher and Computer Systems lab director Dr. Peter Gabor is running for the Fairfax County School Board. Hoping to observe, learn, and enact change, Gabor seeks to provide insight that only a teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) could. 

Why run? 

After years as a teacher at Jefferson, Gabor was encouraged to find leadership positions. However, as a misunderstanding, Gabor took that to mean leadership outside of Jefferson rather than at school. 

“It originally stemmed from people encouraging me. Administration said that I should try to get into a position of leadership. I said, ‘Okay, I think this is where I can make a difference,’” Gabor said. “I think they meant it to school, but you never know how words are interpreted.”

Despite that initial idea, the drive to run for school board came from other teachers and staff members at Jefferson and in FCPS.

“I’ve been hearing more concerns from teachers in the recent past than I heard when I first came,” Gabor said. “I thought it’s one thing if I don’t try something, if we don’t try to address the concerns directly. It’s different if you try and it doesn’t work than if you don’t try it at all.” 

What matters? 

If elected, Gabor has two primary goals for the school board: first is the teacher retention. 

“Teacher retention is a big deal across the country. One of the important aspects is compensation, salary benefits, this kind of thing,” Gabor said. “Teacher salaries have been going up, but inflation has gone up even more quickly, and it means that if we compare how teachers are doing salary-wise to where they were ten years ago: you’re not doing as well.” 

Gabor’s second most concerning issue are changes that eat away at long-term work time for teachers to get things done throughout the school day, including but not limited to increasing class sizes. 

“Over the years, we’ve been chipping away one teacher at a time because they have to spend more time talking with parents and working with students who are having trouble,” Gabor said. “You’re taking away time that teachers have had in the past, and that’s the issue. There’s an expression, ‘Death by a thousand paper cuts.’ That’s what this is.”

Instructing a class, Gabor works in an environment unique from the other candidates. A big motivator for Gabor to run is his desire for teacher voices to be heard. “One thing I care about a lot is education. I give my classes my all here [and] I think the students know that,” Gabor said. “I thought it makes a lot of sense for me to try to have the teachers’ voices heard.” (T. Andronescu)

Who is Gabor outside the lab? 

In addition to teaching classes including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and mentoring senior research students, Gabor sponsors Ballroom Dancing and Chess Club during 8th period blocks. 

“Our goal in [Ballroom Dancing] is just to have fun dancing, so it’s social interaction,” Gabor said. “You can start it in university, which is where I learned it, but it would have been so much better if I had a chance already to do this ballroom dancing [before] university. You can apply it in all sorts of interesting ways that go beyond the immediate skill. It has even gotten me a trip to Australia.” 

While living in Vienna, Gabor would attend up to two balls a week during ballroom dancing season, which comes to an end the night of Ash Wednesday. 

“My ballroom dancing skills allowed me to get in for free because they wanted me to open the balls. There was a famous musician in Europe called André Rieu and he was looking for dancers to accompany him to Australia. I showed my stuff and he said, ‘Okay, you’re coming,’” Gabor said. “I’m also on the presentation committee for the International Debutante Ball that takes place once every other year in New York City.”

From the November 2023 Issue of tjTODAY

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