BOISE, Id – Sherri Wood has been the President of the Idaho Education Association and a teacher. Now after 34 years as an educator, she’s retiring.
Sherri Wood planned to spend five years teaching first, second and third graders at Van Buren School in Caldwell.
Sherri Wood “After I was there five years, the kids and the families that attended Van Buren School, became very attached to them, very much enjoyed working with them and 28 years later, I was still there.”
Teaching, wood says, is more than just 50 minutes in a classroom.
Sherri Wood “There’s so much more to being a teacher then just imparting knowledge, teaching kids ABC’s or what the vowel sounds are or how to do addition and subtraction and multiplication. For me teaching is about relationships.”
Wood says much of her teaching happened outside the classroom, and had little to do with those ABC’s.
Sherri Wood “I had a little boy for many years in Special Ed who struggled with retaining educational concepts and academics but he knew my phone number and he could remember my phone number and he called me all the time and one of the calls that I got from him was, Ms. Wood I don’t know what I should do when my dad tells me I need to drink beer and smoke pot with him…this is a third grade child…I said, honey you have to tell him no, no you’re not going to do that, honey tell your dad that it hurts Ms. Wood’s heart to think that’s what he’s asking you to do. He reported to me not long after that that when he told his dad it would hurt my heart if he smoked and drank, that his dad stopped asking him that.”
Four years ago, that third grader eventually graduated from high school. Wood was there when he got his diploma.
Sherri Wood “It’s heartwarming to know that you may have had just a little piece or a little part in their ability to be who they are today, that’s really what teaching is all about, it’s certainly not about a test, it’s not about a single course, it’s about life’s learning over a thirteen year period in our public schools, where many adults have touched the lives of children.”
While working as a teacher, Sherri Wood joined the Idaho Education Association. Her partnership with the IEA grew. She came through the ranks, serving as a local President, then a regional President. Six years ago, she became President of the IEA.
Sherri Wood “I really am the proudest and value the most the family that we are in this Association.”
The IEA played a prominent role this year in the fight against the “Students Come First” public education plan. She says things got ugly during the Idaho Legislature and teachers got discouraged.
Sherri Wood “I also know of a number of teachers who are leaving the state to go to Wyoming, to go to Washington, to go to Alaska, just because they’re tired of being of treated with no respect whatsoever.”
IEA members helped gather signatures to put a recall of the plan on the ballot next November. Wood thinks that voters will overturn “Students Come First.” She plans to volunteer her time to fight the plan. She also wants to re-connect with friends, family, and maybe clean out a few closets.
Sherri Wood “You know I really don’t have anything specific that I’m gonna do, I’m just kind of riding off into the sunset.
And as she rides off, she hopes people will remember her kindly.
Sherri Wood “I’m sure I have a whole lot of definitions for who I am and what it was like when the worked with as IEA President, but I’m hoping they remember me as doing what’s right by kids and doing what’s right by employees that work every day in our public schools.”
Sherri Wood says there is one thing she knows for sure after 34 years as an educator. She has made a difference in the life of a child. And that, she says, is what teaching is all about.
Copyright 2011 BSPR