AP Proctors are College Board’s eyes and ears

By Erin Moy and Allegra Tepper

As Jeff Wattenhoffer, a proctor for the AP English Language exam, strolled around the room keeping watch over the nearly 200 students finishing the test in Chalmers Lounge, one student whispered, “We’ve been in here forever; can’t we leave?” Wattenhoffer replied, “We’ve been here just as long as you have,” and walked away.

Wattenhoffer, 25, was referring to himself and the rest of his proctoring colleagues, who spent three weeks on campus overseeing AP tests. While most of the proctors were employed through an employment agency, some, like Gene Heard, French teacher Marilyn Shield’s husband, were referred to the school by faculty members.

Proctors go through a one-day training course, during which the material that they are required to master is dictated by the College Board.

Some proctors, like Harper Girard, 22, see proctoring as a full-time job. Girard proctors for the APs, the LSAT, the SAT and the ISEE, which requires a “24/7” commitment, she said.

“It’s really a passion for me,” she joked.

Other proctors, like Head Proctor Geoff Robertson, 28, administer tests in addition to other occupations. Robertson is a professor of Biology and Natural Resource Conservation at Moorpark and Pierce Colleges, and has now been proctoring at Harvard-Westlake for the past two years.

“Everyone remembers and talks about him even weeks after the exams,” Carleigh Coyne ’10 said. “He’s a real character.”

The pendant Robertson wears, a gift from his mother, is the Hebrew character “chai,” which means life, he said. Middle school students might look forward to seeing more of Robertson, who has already worked as a substitute teacher at the North Faring campus. Inspired by his time at Harvard-Westlake, Robertson interviewed for a teaching position in Biology.

Dave Farina, 25, has also substituted for upper school math classes along with his duties as a proctor. However, while Farina is an academician by day, he is a drummer in an “alternative psychedelic rock band” called Magnus Fitch by night. In the midst of reviewing logarithms and matrices, Farina has occasionally slipped students a flyer to promote his band.

The Myspace link on his business card features pictures of Farina and his band in bunny and space helmets.

Heard, a writer and retired executive director of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, added his own flair to the AP English Language test.

“While we bubbled in registration info before the test began, he told us about a novel he recently finished reading, ‘Mother Tongue: The English Language,’” Maddy Abrams ’09 said. “He said he thought we would really enjoy it. It was unusual that he wasn’t just running off the proctor speech, but actually started up conversation with us.”