Beyond the Gate talked with a few of our teachers to get a glimpse into their classrooms, their philosophies on education, and their feelings about teaching at Woodward. Today we share Part 3, our talk with Middle School math teacher Dana Jefferson. (If you missed it, check out Part 1, our Q&A with Dr. Kimberly Kulka from the Primary School, and Part 2, our Q&A with Upper School history teacher Dr. Bill Nicholson.) Happy reading!
What made you want to teach at Woodward Academy?
After home schooling my children, I realized how much I enjoy teaching and could not imagine teaching anywhere other than Woodward Academy. Woodward is simply home for me.
What grade and/or subjects do you teach?
I teach Middle School Algebra, specifically 8th Grade, Enriched College Prep level
What is your teaching philosophy?
Teaching extends beyond the textbook and classroom. Teaching is the opportunity to help, embrace, and mentor our future leaders.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a teacher? How does the school help and support you in facing these challenges?
My greatest challenges are making sure that I am relatable to the students and keeping up with technology. Woodward does a great job of ensuring the faculty has the technology and training needed to create and teach in the classroom. Staying relatable is my responsibility.
What do you feel sets Woodward Academy apart from other schools?
Our campus culture and student body is unlike any other. We are the most diverse independent school in Atlanta, with 49 percent of our students being students of color. We are an inclusive community with students from many ethnicities, cultures, religions, and learning styles. In every classroom, you’ll see posters that express our school’s unique character: “Respecting ourselves, each other, our school, and our world is the Woodward Way.”
What has surprised you the most about teaching at Woodward?
As a teacher and an alumna of Woodward, I have been surprised and impressed by the overall growth and increase in diversity over the last 30+ years. It’s phenomenal and a beautiful thing to see on our campus every day.
What would you want people to know about the teaching staff as a whole?
We are diverse, creative, accommodating, communicative, and ever-evolving.
What would you want people to know about Woodward’s curriculum?
Our college prep curriculum is challenging, diverse, and adaptable, and our students leave Woodward truly prepared for college and life beyond.
What would you tell people about Woodward approaches the teaching/learning experience and how it benefits students?
The depth of our education program allows us to meet the diverse needs of a broad student population. Students can mix and match their course levels for more challenge in subjects they excel in and more guidance where they need it. Woodward has so much to offer—from debate and robotics and theatre and dance to 18 varsity sports—that every student can pursue their interests and hopefully discover their passions.
What do you want people to know most about the Academy?
Woodward is more than a school. It is our home.