The distinct smell of pet food and the sound of water trickling from a fish tank are part of the atmosphere at Rolling Hills Veterinarian Hospital, where owner Tom Rose holds his day job.
But starting in July, Rose will spend many Monday nights and Thursday mornings — and many hours in between — serving on the Columbia School Board. He was selected out of nine applicants to replace Don Ludwig, who announced his resignation because of conflict-of-interest concerns after his wife became an administrator for school district.
Recalling an interest in science and a love of animals, Rose, 44, has known he wanted to be a vet since childhood. But his caretaking tendencies reach well past the hospital and into the classroom.
Five times a week, he mentors five children at four different schools — Mill Creek, Derby Ridge, Gentry and West Boulevard — as part of the Stand by Me and Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. By spending an hour a week with each child, he hopes to help them become better students.
“I want to make it worthwhile and helpful for the student,” Rose said. “I am trying to make a difference.”
Rose is married and has three children. His two daughters are a senior and a sophomore at Rock Bridge High School. He also has a daughter in eighth grade who attends Jefferson Junior High School.
Rose’s first involvement in community education was with the Columbia Board of Health in the early ’90s; since Jan. 1, he has been chairman of the board. He also chairs the Columbia Metro Rotary's Partners in Education committee. He serves on the boards of Community Nursery School and First Chance for Children.
It wasn’t until he became involved with Columbia Chamber of Commerce five years ago that he found he was passionate about early childhood development. “I just kind of fell into it,” Rose said. “This issue needs a voice.”
He is still involved with the chamber and during the past year he was elected to be on the board.
He said his goal during his term on the school board, which expires in April 2008, is to try and do what is right for the community as a whole.