CONNIE WOODARD

USD 413 public relations

Woodyard’s background brings perspective to history lessons

Teaching was a second career for Wayne Woodyard. After 25 years in the military, he retired and used the GI bill to attend Fort Hays State and graduate with a degree to teach history.

His first job landed him on the third floor of the old Chanute High School, where he taught World History and some American History. After a good run at teaching, coaching tennis and having some good success with the cross country team he restarted in 1999, Woodyard will retire at the end of this school year.

Teaching has changed over the years and so have student attitudes and desire to learn.

It takes a little bit more to get them motivated,” Woodyard said. “They tend to be ‘show me’ versus ‘teach me.’ I feel more like I have to entertain them than teach them.”

As a history teacher, he not only has to teach the subject, he has to convince students it’s something important to learn.

All the time I hear, ‘Why do I need to know this?’” from those sitting in the seats facing him.

He’s found that his military background has helped him be successful in the classroom, both when he started and today.

I was a platoon sergeant in my later years. I was the guy who stood you up and got in your face,” Woodyard said. “From day one, I do the platoon sergeant thing. The kids eat that stuff up. They seem to want that. They want more structure and someone that tells them what to do.”

David Cadwallader, whose classroom is adjacent to Woodyard’s, said he looks forward to the first week of school and the new “recruits” under his fellow teacher’s command.

Though it’s not perfectly audible through the wall, you can hear a strong, business-like male voice shouting commands as a number of nervous, cracking adolescent voices sing in response, ‘Yes, sir!’” Cadwallader said. “This happens periodically that first week, and at least once, I usually have to stop my own lesson and listen for a moment while my students quizzically – some nervously – exchange glances as we all listen to the proceedings. Every once in a while someone will wonder aloud, ‘Are they alright?’ to which I usually respond with a shrug and chuckle.”

Woodyard doesn’t have many discipline problems in his classroom.

I’ll take them out in the hallway, stand in front of them, and look them straight in the eyes. You know, they’ll listen to you,” he said. “I’m pretty straight forward. I tell them the discipline I expect out of them. They know the parameters and if they cross it, I’ll tell them, ‘You crossed the line.’”

Mr. Woodyard is an institution – in a good way,” Cadwallader said. “Even if kids have never had him, they know who he is. They know that littering, hat-wearing, horse-play, cussing, and generally-squirrely behavior won’t be tolerated.”

His students – current and former – will tell you that his real name, however, is Sergeant Woodyard, Sarge, or Platoon Daddy, he added.

In September of 2004, Woodyard was called up to active duty and served 15 months in Iraq. When he returned to CHS, his students would ask, “Did you shoot anybody over there? Did you kill anyone?” Woodyard’s answers didn’t coincide with what they expected to hear.

I’ve been shot at and I’ve shot back and seen bodies. I don’t know if it was my bullets,” Woodyard told them. “I had three friends killed. They can’t come back. It’s not a game.”

With their electronics and video games, they blow up Humvees and wanted to know what that was like.

He told them that what they see in their games “is different than seeing a blood-soaked Humvee with body parts hanging from it. Seeing somebody die is not cool.”

His experience in Iraq also made him realize that his students view the world through a Christian viewpoint.

We’ve got that feeling that every Muslim in Iraq wants to kill you,” Woodyard explained. “I was shot at by Muslims, but I also had friends that were Muslim. I found out Muslims were people just like anybody else. I worked with them. They just have a different religion.”

After witnessing the Islamic faith, he decided he wanted to include more religion in his history lessons.

I felt I could bring that perspective into my teaching,” he said.

Chanute is the first community Woodyard has lived in for more than five years. He’s been here teaching and running a lot of miles with the cross country team for 22 years.

This feels like home, he said. “It’s the right size. There’s enough to do here and the community spirit is good for anyone looking for a good place to settle down. I can walk into Walmart and see 20 students and former students,” he said. “My old high school was the Blue Valley Rams, but I feel like I’m a Blue Comet now. It’s a good place to work and live.”

 

Chanute experience turns Hinkle towards teaching

Cindy Hinkle didn’t intend to be a teacher. In fact, her own experience at school was never fun. When she moved to Chanute as a newlywed in 1978, she worked as a graphic artist until getting paired as an aide with kindergarten teacher Cheryl Methvin.

That made me so excited about being in school,” Hinkle said. “We had so much fun in kindergarten, it made me want to be a teacher.”

Hinkle and her husband moved west near Garden City, and she decided to go back to school and get her teaching certificate. She taught two different kindergarten classes in Garden City before returning to Chanute. She substitute taught until getting hired to teach second grade at Hutton. She later moved to third grade at Murray Hill and looped to fourth grade with the same class, then back to third.

Hinkle made the transition from the neighborhood schools to Chanute Elementary when the new building was built. Though large, the number of students or teachers wasn’t a problem; the difficulty came with the size of the building.

It was very difficult moving from small to big, especially the time you had to allow getting from one place to another. Time and distance were the most difficult things to overcome,” she said.

What she’s enjoyed most is working with other teachers.

I really loved doing the grade-level projects, like at Christmas or Thanksgiving or Kansas Day when you’d have the students rotate through centers and each class teacher did a different type of center,” she said.

She was first introduced to the concept at Hutton with Cinco de Mayo. When she moved to Murray Hill, she and Julie Thompson planned a math sleepover for their students.

All the projects connected kids to the real world, which made the projects so much fun to do. We did geometric designs for tennis shoes, math board games, a PE activity and a speaker came in from a dairy farm and talked about how math was integrated into their business,” she recalled.

As a fifth grade teacher, she’s been involved in the annual Colonial Market and all of its real world activities “that have been really great for the students,” she said.

An educational change she’s appreciated is the move to common standards for all the teachers.

When we first started we didn’t have standards. Way back before 2000, Dr. Di (Watkins) introduced it. Once those were in place, every teacher had a goal to work for and students knew what they were supposed to be learning. Before, they always learned but didn’t have a goal,” Hinkle said.

All these experiences,” she said she’ll take with her to whatever grade level she gets to teach in the future. “I would love to bring the Colonial Market to another school.”

Hinkle left her classroom this semester to help her sister care for their parents in Missouri.

I am going to miss Chanute,” she said. “I am going to apply for a position here.”

Her fellow teachers will miss her, too.

Cindy has been a blessing to our fifth grade team,” said Abby Hughes, with her “big heart and a wonderful attitude. I have been in the same building with her since our Murray Hill days. She will always be part of my school family.”

Heidi Bolt shares her passion for numbers

Heidi Bolt brings an inner energy and passion to her teaching, her peers and the new teachers who come to work in Chanute Public Schools.

I care for my kids. I love my kids, but I also want them to learn math. If you love math, great,” she’d tell them. “But if you don’t like math, I hope you like it more.”

Bolt has never shied away from the work required to make sure her kids “get it.” She’s always on the team tutoring students who need to be retaught and reassessed so they can pass the essential standards. If that meant requiring students to pick up their lunch trays and report to her room to eat while she taught, that’s what she did.

I will tell you what to do step by step, I will answer questions, I will walk around the classroom, I will not sit at my desk, I will do whatever you need me to do so you will understand,” she told them.

Math has changed over time and the teachers continually adjust to improve their teaching.

When I first started teaching, we did not have computers, calculators were not an integral part of our teaching, and traditional algorithms have changed,” she said.

This year, the math team added “spiral homework” to see if it would impact the students’ assessment scores. They also pulled students out of PE once or twice a week to reteach and reassess their understanding of concepts.

Last year we had kids forget how to do things like ratios. Now we have spiral homework and it will review what we’ve done before and then introduce what we would be teaching next,” she said. “We were really looking forward to assessments and wanted to see how much the spiral homework had done. Not having that data has been a huge disappointment for the team.”

Bolt also coached spirit squad, track and chess. She’s the math department’s (PLC) team leader and has been in charge of training and mentoring new teachers joining Chanute Public Schools for the last 15 years.

Bolt didn’t play chess, but when they needed a coach she took the role and began learning with her students.

I just feel like it’s a really important skill for learning logical thinking skills,” she said.

Chess became a popular afterschool activity at Royster.

We have so many kids involved. There have been tournaments where I’ve had to spit them up into three teams,” she said.

In March, when Bolt learned about cancelling the state chess tournament, the closing of schools and the move to virtual education, she cried. A huge shout out goes to her math team, she said. They pulled together as a team to create a curriculum to continue to try and get their kids where they needed to be mathematically.

This is just surreal. I almost decided to just take sick leave this quarter because I’m old and I can’t do the online stuff, but my math team has helped me and taught me and held me together. I have a student teacher who really has put forth effort and helped me,” she said. “I could not choose better colleagues to be with. We’ve always been such a strong team together. It makes me proud.”

Bolt was on vacation in Colorado with her family when the governor closed school due to the coronavirus. She ended up being quarantined with her son’s family in Nebraska.

She had some good times – teaching her granddaughter to deliver May Day baskets, planting an herb garden, meeting her son’s neighbors, and watching her grandson go from soldier crawling to crawling and standing up.

I truly had wonderful moments in this and I think all of us have. I just worry about the kids who haven’t, who came to school because that was a safe place, a welcoming place,” she said. “I think kids need normalcy, discipline, they need procedures. I think that’s what they’re missing right now. When they wake up, it’s not normal … they need somebody they can trust, who will be kind and nice but also will be firm and consistent.”

She misses her students, especially with it being her last year.

This is not the way I want it to end. I miss the kids. I miss my hugs from Josiah Bates,” she said.

Bolt has no long-term plans for retirement.

My parents raised me to be a hard worker and now I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “I think God has a plan for me. My plan is to get my life together, see my family and spend a month with my mother at the cabin and see what happens next.”

 

Dave Ports turns in his keys to the 413 delivery van

Over the years, Dave Ports has never tired of trying something new and he’s never lost his sense of curiosity.

At 81, Ports is retiring this month from his job delivering mail or food among the buildings of Chanute Public Schools and the post office. Only he knows what he’ll be doing next week.

“I am not a person to be idle. I have to be doing something,” Ports said.

He spent 35 years in the grocery business, and 15 years with USD 413, but he’s also worked for a packaging business, sold insurance, delivered for a courier system, served as an education mentor for his church, worked at Tri-Valley and opened Hungry Howie’s in Chanute. One year, with all his side jobs, Ports gave his accountant 10 W-2 Forms for tax preparation.

Using a USD 413 delivery van, Ports begins his rounds by checking in with Food Service Director Terri Markham first thing in the morning. Besides delivering mail, Ports transports commodities from one kitchen to another and delivers hot meals to St. Patrick’s, Lincoln and Fairfield schools.

“I really enjoy working for Terri (Markham). She doesn’t hesitate to say when you do something wrong, but when you do something right, she pats you on the back. I appreciate both aspects,” he said.

He can be very stubborn, Markham responded, but he always “makes my day” when he calls every morning.

“He has an awesome work ethic and determination,” she added. “Dave is an inspirational person. He is always looking for ways he can help others.”

“I like the people I work with,” Ports said. “I just like people, whether they’re in the office, or at the board office or the cooks in the kitchen. The world is full of friends I haven’t met yet.”

He’s been approached by a couple of people about working part-time, but hasn’t decided what he’ll do next.

“I may be at the farm, I may be at the shop making toys, or I may be in my chair with my Bible,” he said.

He enjoys conversing with people, reading, pondering what he’s read and talking about it with others.

He considers life a gift, like drinking coffee, it is so good.

“For the most part, I don’t mind the rain or the snow. I don’t mind those things. You can look at that as being something bad or you can look at it as being something good. There’s a beauty in the snow, a beauty in rain, in sunshine; it just depends on your perspective,” he said.

One of his goals is to take a road trip to northwest Kansas where many Germans settled after coming to the United States.

“One of the things I’d like to do, and Ruth and I talked about this, I hope we can get in the car and go out through western Kansas and observe the old Lutheran churches out there with the high steeples,” he said. “I think it’s very interesting. Some of the old churches are made out of that limestone that is absolutely beautiful.”

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