Even on a drizzly Tuesday morning, a little water can’t keep wellness and physical education teacher Kim Woods and her students inside.
Third graders excitedly made their way out to the softball field, as Woods, who has been working here for 28 years, starts a game of what can only be described as baseball, but with a tennis racket. On the sidelines, the young students cheer on their teammates, as Woods gives helpful instruction from the pitcher’s mound.
“Take a few steps back and keep your eye on the ball,” Woods says to one student. “Great effort running,” she tells another student, who just rounded second.
The students, as excited as they are, smile as they listen to Woods, a seasoned educator who is set to retire after the end of this academic year.
Woods reflected on some of her favorite memories here, including working alongside Athletic Director Jeff Gates.
“Working with Mr. Gates has been an absolute pleasure,” Woods said. “Since I have taught Pre-K through 5th grade, I get to see how kids progress and watch them find their passion with activities they might not have tried before.”
Gates, who has known Woods for the better part of three decades, shared similar sentiments about his colleague.
“I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderful teacher and mentor Mrs. Woods has been,” Gates said. “She is the P.E. program.”
Early in her career, Woods said, she set a personal goal for children to have fun in her classes. She also wanted her young charges to look forward to incorporating safe physical activity into a healthy lifestyle.
Along these lines, former Lower School student Dessie Bell-Kamen ’20 enjoyed scooter games in the gym.
“I have such fond memories of gym class with Mrs. Woods,” Bell-Kamen ’20 said. “She always was so passionate about teaching us how to be healthy. The obstacle courses she designed were also a lot of fun, and I didn’t like athletic activities when I was younger. She helped me become excited about exercising.”
Lucas Williams ’25, who has been here since pre-Kindergarten, said, “She always found a way to make things fun, even if they were fitness exercises.”
Chloe Scolnick ’25 enjoyed cross-country with Woods this fall.
“She was great at motivating us, and whenever I started walking she got me to keep running,” said Scolnick. “I’ll miss doing cross country with her.”
Adia Kirwan Smith ‘25 praised Woods as “super nice and supportive.”
“Mrs. Woods made P.E. in Lower School really fun by using lots of different games and activities,” said Isaiah Claiborne ‘21.
Woods’ focus on teaching younger students about health and wellbeing, including how to move their bodies, has played a critical role in helping them develop into athletes who enjoy organized activities, according to Head of School Judith Guild.
“Her patience with the children, development of the curriculum, organization of the equipment, and the support of her colleagues made life in the P.E. world safe, fun, and effective,” Guild said.
Outgoing Lower School Head Thomas Fuller praised Woods creativity with creating games for children to enjoy, at school or at home.
“Her goal is to give students a repertoire of activities to keep them busy,” Fuller said. “The creativity of these activities helps engage the students and promotes play.”
As for her retirement plans, in the fall, Woods plans to have her own fun, visiting Tanzania, hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, and going on a safari.