Teacher of the Year Nomination – Jo-Anne Woolner

by Jessica on May 13, 2016

Parent, Dorothea Fong, nominated Jo-Anne Woolner
of The Gooden School in Sierra Madre. 

My daughter attends 8th grade at The Gooden School in Sierra Madre. During her nine years there, she has encountered many teachers, but no teacher has had the impact that Jo-Anne Woolner has on her education. Mrs. Woolner is in one word a “Super-Star”.

Mrs. Woolner teaches Latin, Social Studies, and is head of the Middle School. She teaches her classes with enthusiasm, excitement, and pure joy – she makes learning FUN!! What can a parent say when your child starts talking about the causes of the civil war? This is not normal in our digital age! Or how this verb word is Latin-based while taking about the Trojan War. These are valuable moments that make you as a parent stop and realize that you chose the right school for your child in Kindergarten. Mrs. Woolner is the best bonus ever and the cherry on top!!

The biggest takeaway is that my daughter loves Social Studies and Mrs. Woolner has a gift to bring it to life in such an interesting way for middle school students to understand and relate to in their own way. Additionally, Latin (a supposedly dead language) comes to life in her classroom when the kids get to see how it relates to their everyday English and Spanish classes. This is a huge gift that is being bestowed upon our children. Our kids that take the SAT/ACT, those Latin vocabulary words will come in very handy. Plus, the children who pursue medicine, science, or many other fields will have such an advantage being exposed to Latin at a young age.

Finally, Mrs. Woolner is the 8th grade home room teacher. That involves the tedious and emotional tasks of guiding 27 kids 8th graders and 27 sets of parents through the high school application process. This is not an easy thing, period. Applications, transcripts, letters of recommendations, shadow days, and interviews must all be coordinated with Mrs. Woolner, the parents, and the applicant school. Add in multiple schools per student and it becomes a huge endeavor. During all of this time, Mrs. Woolner has remained cool as a cucumber, but as loving as a warm puppy. She is a huge reason that our kids get so highly placed in the best schools in the Pasadena area! Thank you, Mrs. Woolner!