Whitebead Hire A Real Homecoming
It's a homecoming of sorts for Lou Ann Wood after she was hired this week to be the next superintendent and principal at Whitebead School. Wood not only grew up in Pauls Valley she graduated from high school here. With years of experience as an educator, Wood will leave her current position in Purcell and officially start her duties in Whitebead at the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.
The excitement in Wood's voice was clear during a chat with the PV Democrat after the hiring was announced. “I'm coming home,” Wood said. “I grew up in Pauls Valley. I still have a mother and brother who live in Pauls Valley.” Her mother, Rosa Mary Edgar, once taught special education here. Because of her connection to PV she appears to also feel a kind of kinship with Whitebead's school for youngsters ranging from prekindergarten up through the eighth grade. She does have plenty of good things to say about Whitebead — from the kids and faculty there to parents and the “community as a whole.” “Whitebead is a great place,” she said. “I've had family members who went through Whitebead. “I want to do what I can to make Whitebead even better than it already is. “This is an opportunity to work with a great school and a great community.”
Wood is in her second year as principal of Purcell Intermediate School, which is for grades three, four and five. Before that she spent nearly two decades as a teacher or school administrator in the Mid-Del School District. That experience includes teaching seventh and eighth grade math for a couple of years and six more years teaching elementary reading and math. Wood had a couple of stints as an assistant principal, while also putting in nine years as the principal of a school in Midwest City for prekindergarten through the fifth grade. Now her focus is on Whitebead and what she can do to make it the best school possible. “When I was visiting with the school board they told me they want the school to be the absolute best it can be. I believe I can get them there,” Wood said. “We will have a laser focus on state standards and being right where we need to be.”
One of Whitebead's school board members, Ed Tillery, said this week Wood was at the top of a list that included several quality candidates applying to replace the school's longtime superintendent, Mary Smith. “We did a diligent search and now we have someone we're really pleased with,” Tillery said, adding Wood's excitement can be contagious. “When you talk to her you find yourself asking how you can help improve education. “She's totally involved in improving the methods of education. She has a dynamic personality and is very passionate about education. “And she's excited about the opportunity to help promote Whitebead School and our family culture. “I think we were all equally impressed with her.”
Wood was hired during a school board meeting earlier this week. It was revealed nearly 30 candidates applied for the job. From that group the board narrowed it down to nine “top” candidates to interview. Later the list was narrowed to three as Wood was the choice of all three board members.
It was in March 2016 when Smith announced her intention to retire after many years as Whitebead's superintendent. She later agreed to stay on one more year to give the school board more time to work with the Oklahoma State School Boards Association in the search for a replacement. The school's day-to-day operations have been overseen by an interim principal, longtime Whitebead educator Shea Thompson.