Retired Tulsa school teacher remains active in the classroom at 91, still wants to help kids

Posted at 8:02 PM, Nov 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 21:55:22-05

TULSA -- Many teachers describe working with children as their calling, and one woman cannot shake her dedication to kids even at age 91.

Emily Wood shows no signs of slowing down despite her retirement from teaching several years ago. She said she somehow found a job as a teacher after her husband served in World War II, and has kept with the profession ever since.

"I think all children can learn," Wood said, "and teaching is an honorable profession."

Three years ago, she began working as an assistant at the University School, which is a private school for gifted and talented children located near the University of Tulsa campus.

"The children listen. They focus. They learn with joy," she said. "Working here for a couple of hours in the morning is not work. It's a tonic."

Five days a week, she meets with small groups of young students so that they can practice their writing and improve their drawing skills, among other activities. She said she likes to praise their progress along the way.

"I can't emphasize how many wonderful experiences I had," she said, "and I hear of the success of many of those students today."

The attention she pays to the younger kids makes some of the older students at the school, like seventh grader Annabel George, pretty envious.

"I wish she had worked with us a little bit longer," George said about Wood. "I'm a little bit jealous of those kids, yeah."

There is a reason she's so beloved. Wood spent 43 years teaching in Tulsa Public Schools alone, retiring twice: once at age 72, then again at 89.

Debra Price, the University School's assistant director of admission, said many know Wood as a local legend, but she would like to add another title.

"I would say (she's an) icon," Price said. "She's an education icon in this community."

Wood said she is grateful for the opportunity to still work so closely with kids, and, despite decades of teaching, her motivation always remains the same with them.

"I hope (the students) take away curiosity, a feeling that they can do whatever they want to in life and contribute," she said.

"I've already seen that many of them, when they build confidence, can go on and really contribute in more ways than I have," she added, "so that's what makes me very happy."

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