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As Many As Were Allowed

July 24, 2012

For 36 years every day began with "Good morning, Mrs. Woodland!"

In September, for the first time in a very long time, that won't be the case as Rhodie Anne Woodland has retired from St. Mary's Elementary after nearly four decades in front of kindergarten classes.

To successfully navigate such a career is impressive enough on its own, however Woodland's story is that much more unique on account of her capacity to mentor teacher interns – 46 in total, as a matter of fact.

"Most years I've had as many interns as were allowed," she says. "I've kind of always thought: why wouldn't you take an intern?"

Woodland absolutely exudes enthusiasm for mentoring students, be they 5 or 25. The positive energy is tangible when one enters her classroom, something she accounts to her own approach to the profession.

"I think that every person learning to be a teacher should have someone they can go to. At the beginning it was because MUN came to me and asked me to take a person, and I did. Over the years though there have been several reasons – maybe a group that I needed an extra set of hands with, or now, more recently, I find that I learn things from the interns."

She raves about the students coming out of the Education program at MUN, praising their ability to integrate technology into the classroom and identify new teaching methods. She feels that, when mixed with her own experience over a lifetime in the classroom, her interns are getting the best possible experience.

"Think of it this way: if I'm teaching you how to bake a cake and I know how to do it, I can't be in a hurry when teaching you how to bake that cake. I tell my interns that we're going to learn to bake a cake together."

For her outstanding efforts and commitment to the internship program and working as a cooperating teacher, the Faculty of Education awarded her a certificate of appreciation before she officially left St. Mary's in June.

The award was as appreciated as it was unexpected, however Woodland is already in the full swing of retirement and has an eye on the challenges that lifestyle may offer her.

"I'm business partners in a craft shop and I have a music degree as well, so I've taught privately for years. I love to travel, I love photography, and I draw, knit, paint, rug hook, weave – I have a great interest in many things," she says. "I hope to continue to do something with the interns too though, because I love the program."