This article was written By Quinn Olney from the 2021 Journalism class.
Tom Tailor is an article written as part of the 50@U32 collection. In 2021, U32 is celebrating 50 years of education and dedication to students. To honor the school’s success and celebration, the chronicle is publishing archived material and stories of alumni.
U-32, often nicknamed “The Zoo”, has some very chaotic tendencies. One such example is Tom Tailor, a teacher who taught Earth Science at U-32 in the 80’s and was known for his eccentric personality. Sarah Pulaski and Rick Clark are two residents of Calais Vermont, and both attended during his career.
“He was obviously super smart, he was very well educated like ivy league schools, but he had crazy body odor,’ Clark said. A lot of times disruptive students would say, ‘Your armpits smell so bad’. To which he would reply, straight faced, ‘I was exposed to volcanic gas out of the volcano Mount Choma Loma in Venezuela, there’s a chemical in deodorants that could kill me.”
Obviously this story was a complete fabrication, Tom couldn’t even point out Venezuela on a map. Clark continued “When he was looking to draw pity he’d say something like ‘In fact I can tell a lot of you are wearing it, and I’m starting to feel a bit faint.’”
Stories like these were commonplace in Tom’s classroom. He would often have funny remarks to fire back at students who dared to challenge him.
Another example of Tom’s shenanigans was when the school brought someone in to talk about nuclear energy during the tail end of the cold war. “You didn’t hear it from me, but he’s a former CIA agent,” Tailor said, when announcing this guest speaker to his class. When the presentation eventually rolled around the students had a few questions for the presenter regarding his alleged CIA employment. To which he replied, “A CIA agent isn’t supposed to reveal if they’re CIA or not. It blows their cover” which left such an impression on the class that both Rick and Sarah remember to this day.
Mark Chaplin, another teacher at U32 working with Tailor at the time, recalled an activity Tom would annually do with his students. “At the end of the year he’d have a project where the class would build catapults and then go to the back of the parking lot and shoot off rotten fruits and vegetables.”
Tom Tailor was a man of his time, a signifier of a U32 era has moved on from the U32 community. “Yeah things have really changed. I don’t think could be anyone like him (Tom) at your school even if you wanted” Clark said.