Monday, June 20, 2022

Woodland celebrated its retirees during its annual All Staff Luncheon on Friday, June 17Woodland celebrated its retirees during its annual All Staff Luncheon on Friday, June 17


As the end of the 2021-2022 school year approaches, Woodland Public Schools recognizes retiring employees who will end their careers after decades of serving the community and ensuring all children receive a high-quality education.

Read on to learn how each of the following retirees who worked five or more years for Woodland Public Schools dedicated themselves to honing their craft and providing for students in a variety of ways throughout the district (ordered alphabetically by last name).


Jody Brentin – 16 Years
Registrar – Woodland Public Schools (District)

Jody Brentin served as district registrar, helping to enroll new students as well as process any requests families may have including out-of-district transfers and so much more.

Here are some of the comments shared by her colleagues:

  • “Jody’s an always-cheerful, positive first-face for parents and new students to see, a beaming bright light at the district who wholeheartedly throws herself into her job. She is a complete team player. On a personal level, she is a real, honest, good-listening shoulder to cry on. I don't know what I will do without her!”
  • “Jody has been a joy to work with. Her positive attitude and infectious smile in the office is something that is going to be greatly missed. She has a caring nature for every family who walks in the door. She also has a knack for making families feel comfortable and welcome, as well as individually important. Jody will listen to them and do whatever she can to assist with their needs. Whoever tries to replace her will have very big shoes to fill!”
  • “Jody was our first-ever District Registrar and has done a great job stepping into the job and making it her own. She is great with staff and parents, and I often receive emails about her fantastic customer service. For many families, she is the first employee they meet, and she makes them feel welcome.”
  • “It has been a true treasure working with Jody. We have been through a great deal of changes, lots of learning, adjusting, and many laughs as well as tears. To say Jody will be missed is a giant understatement.”


Kathy Burns – 13 Years
School Bus Driver – KWRL Transportation Cooperative

Kathy Burns, a lifelong resident of La Center, graduated from La Center High School in 1977 and knows her way around the area like none other.

Here are some of the comments shared by her colleagues:

  • “Kathy has been a great asset to KWRL.”
  • “It has been a parents’ dream to have their child's driver to be thoughtful and caring as Kathy has with her students.”
  • “Kathy knows every one of her riders’ names, and she has positive thoughts about everyone and she has a big heart for them, too.”
  • “Kathy is known for her big Smile and cheerful attitude. Kathy will be greatly missed.”


Mark Greenleaf – 19 Years
Teacher – Woodland High School

Mark Greenleaf has served as a teacher at Woodland High School for nearly two decades. Here are some of the comments shared by his colleagues:

  • “I must thank Mark for the many years that he invested his time, talents, and personality with our students, staff, and community. I'm grateful to Mark for the structure he brings to his classes, and the difficult balance of holding students to high expectations while supporting them towards success.
  • “Mark’s no-nonsense attitude and willingness to ask the difficult questions have made our school and district better places to work and learn. The legacy of Mark’s investment in Woodland will continue for generations, and he will be greatly missed. Best wishes on all your future endeavors. I'm glad to have been on Mark’s team for my WHS years and through June.”
  • “I couldn't work in ‘The West Wing’ for seven years next to Mark Greenleaf without hearing a few favorite quotes. Two are: ‘The Weight Room is Your Friend!’ (he probably has a trademark on that one somewhere) and, ‘We are not warm and fuzzy, fruit cups and orange slices here. This ain't Church Camp!’ However, the thing that stands out to me the most is Mark’s willingness to help. He always volunteered his own and, sometimes, his classes' help whenever I might have something difficult to do. I think he really fostered school spirit in that way. Thanks, Coach!”


Heather Gordon – 13 Years
Teacher – Woodland High School

Heather Gordon has served as a teacher at Woodland High School for 13 years. Here are some of the comments shared by her colleagues:

  • “Heather was my National Boards sister! Her and I spent two years propping each other up and keeping each other going through what was a rigorous and difficult process. I would not have completed my Certification if it wasn't for her support and camaraderie through the process.”
  • “Heather’s love of teaching and care for students was so evident in everything that she did, and she was incredibly selfless in many of the sacrifices she made for the benefit of students. While it's a blow to Woodland and students that she is leaving, I am so happy that she is living her best life and taking time to actualize her dreams.”
  • “Thank you for all you've invested of your personality, compassion, and talents with the students and staff of Woodland High School. Your classes and the connection you made with some of our most struggling students were a big part of helping them hold it together to make progress towards graduation. I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to work with you, helping to improve student's lives together. May your retirement be filled with new adventures and continual learning. You rock!”
  • “I remember when Heather was hired at Woodland High School. She struck me as being very kind, gentle and warmhearted. We knew right away she would connect with students and build strong relationships. On top of that she was an excellent teacher of English and Drama. All students learned under her direction and regarded Mrs. Gordon as a loving teacher. Heather will be missed. We wish her all the best in her new life.”


Dennis (Mike) Hugo – 5 Years
School Bus Driver – KWRL Transportation Cooperative

Mike Hugo has served as a bus driver for KWRL for five years. Here are some of the comments shared by his colleagues:

  • “Mike was an active member of the KWRL team in the years he worked for KWRL, volunteering countless hours to labor management meetings to work together to improve student transportation and customer service. Mike will be missed.”


Steven Miller – 6 Years
Custodian – Woodland High School

Steven Miller has served as a custodian at Woodland High School for six years. Here are some of the comments shared by his colleagues:

  • “Steven was always helpful and willing to go the extra mile.”
  • “I miss him already – every morning, Steven made my room look absolutely spotless.”


David MosesC David Moses– 25 Years
Teacher – Woodland Middle School

David Moses served as a teacher at Woodland Middle School for 25 years. Following graduation from high school, he coached athletics where he developed an insight into working with kids. “My wife had been in education in college, so I got glimpses into what teaching was like in helping her a little bit with class projects,” he remembered. “After several years, I had been funneled in the direction of teaching, and many little paths led to my main one!”

For Moses, the interactions he shared with his students will be what he misses most following retirement, “You just never know what they’ll do on any given day and each day is different,” he said. “You get to deal with kids who have different backgrounds, hobbies, dreams, and so on; it is going to be the toughest thing to replace.”

During retirement, Moses plans to stay busy… incredibly busy. “I have about 83 directions I am dreaming of – food truck, podcasting, golf, you ministry, karaoke singer, golf, ping pong champion, landscaper, excavation person, combine driver, golf,” he said. “But first, I’ll be like Thanos from The Avengers movies, ‘sit back and watch the sun set on a grateful universe.’”

Here are some of the comments shared by his colleagues:

  • “Your sense of humor and quick wit are admirable. Students seek you out because of your kindness and get to learn math in a fun way. You will be missed. Enjoy the golf links!”
  • “You can't help but find something to laugh about when working with Dave. His great sense of humor and positive perspective is contagious. Back in the days of teaching third grade at Woodland Primary School, everyone got a pick-me-up with Dave's morning music. After all, who can keep from tapping to the beat of ‘Surfin' USA?’” 
  • “Dave has always found positive ways to approach challenges in life. Even through all the Covid Craziness, Dave sent out the ‘Daily Dave,’ inspiring and entertaining with quotes, funny stories, and messages that lifted spirits and encouraged us all through a difficult time. I will miss his lighthearted antics, but his stories will live on in our halls and hearts!”


Geoffrey NelsonGeoffrey Nelson – 22 Years
Teacher – Woodland Middle School

Geoffrey Nelson spent 22 years as a science teacher in Woodland Middle School. While studying business and engineering in college, he discovered that his talents aligned more closely with education, “Working in education provided me with an avenue for my interests which included working with students, drama, art, American history, photography, and, in the end, the area I enjoyed most – science.”

Nelson spent a lot of his career teaching fifth grade. “I often combined different subjects including reading, art, and writing into creative hands-on science experiments that demonstrated concepts, like convection, by having students build hot-air balloons made from tissue paper,” he remembered. “As I get closer to my retirement, I admit that I will miss teaching very much as well as the many students and friends I have come to know over the years; one of the nice things about becoming a retired teacher is that I can still substitute.”

In retirement, Nelson plans to getting back in touch with the outdoors, doing yardwork, and performing some of his fitness goals, “Teaching at Woodland School District these last 22 years has been an honor and a pleasure, and I will miss it very much.”

Here are some of the comments shared by his colleagues:

  • “Geoff’s energy and enthusiasm for science is contagious. He has a way of guiding students that is both respectful and encouraging.”
  • “Everyone knows how passionate and creative Geoff is in teaching science, but I want to highlight one of Geoff's traits that truly is exceptional: he is seriously one of the most genuinely kind people. EVER. I've never heard him bash a student or staff member in all the years of working together at Woodland Intermediate and Middle School. He ALWAYS remains respectful and finds the strengths of students and staff alike. This amazing trait inspired me to not only hold my tongue, but to reflect on where my heart truly is in how I presume the positive in others.”


Williana (Yonnie) Nichols – 6 Years
School Bus Driver – KWRL Transportation Cooperative

Williana (Yonnie) Nichols has driven school buses for KWRL since 2016, covering all grades K-12 with routes throughout Ridgefield. Here are some of the comments shared by her colleagues:

  • “Yonnie always did a great job year-in and year-out. She will be missed by her students and all of the KWRL staff.”


Marilyn PaulMarilyn Paul  – 30+ years
Paraeducator – Columbia Elementary School

Marilyn Paul spent more than three decades serving students at Columbia Elementary School, working in a variety of classrooms and a variety of students. Here are some of the comments shared by her colleagues:

  • “Marilyn has a passion to help students reach their potential, and is willing to push them so they can. Woodland has been so lucky to have her serving our students and families for more than 30 years!”
  • “Marilyn is always ready and willing to jump into any situation when needed; there have been many times we have been down one or more paras in a classroom and she is always ready to help with one or more situations that are less than ideal.”
  • “Marilyn selflessly volunteers her time, including setting up Candy Cane Lane and helping out at our after-school reading clubs. She is always positive and present in the classroom!”


North Fork Elementary celebrated Ed Sorensen's retirement last October (2021) with a special paradeEd Sorensen – 13 Years
Custodian – North Fork Elementary School

Ed Sorensen served as a custodian for North Fork Elementary School for 13 years. When he retired in October 2021, the students threw him a parade to thank him for his years of dedication and friendship.

Here are some of the comments shared by his colleagues:

  • “Ed was always friendly, kind, warm and welcoming. I miss him to this day.”
  • “Ed was truly wonderful. He was as dedicated to helping his students as he was to working hard at his job.”


Sharon StuartSharon Stuart – 25 Years
Paraeducator – Yale Elementary School

Sharon Stuart served as a paraeducator at Yale Elementary School for 25 years. After helping her mom teach first grade Sunday School classes at age 16, she knew she wanted to go into teaching as a profession.

For Stuart, she will miss her colleagues and students the most after she retires, “Working in such a small remote school like Yale means you get to see kids grow up from little kindergartners to fourth graders who are ready to move on to Woodland’s schools.”

During retirement, Stuart initially plans to take some time off… at least a day. “I plan to stay in bed and be lazy the first day after school is out, but then, my husband and I are looking forward to the birth of our sixth granddaughter,” she said. “I am looking forward to being able to spend more time with all of my family.”

Here are some of the comments shared by her colleagues:

  • “One of my fondest memories of Sharon is a quote, ‘Well, you know what we need to do…,’ something she says 75 times a day.”
  • “Sharon has provided our students and community with excellent service for so many years. She has been an amazing student to so many little students.”
  • “We are grateful for Sharon’s loving heart, and we will miss her very much.”


Robin UhlenkottRobin Uhlenkott – 23 Years
Teacher – Woodland Middle School

Robin Uhlenkott has served as a teacher at Woodland Middle School for 23 years. She decided to pursue a career in education because of her own fondness of school as a student. “I had a lot of great teachers who made me enjoy learning,” she remembers. “I wanted to try to make school that enjoyable for other students.”

For Robin, her favorite memories from teaching involve time with other teachers and students. “I enjoyed getting to know and teach the thousands of Woodland kids who passed through my classroom throughout my career,” she said. “I will miss being challenged every day to my very best to serve my students.”

Here are some of the comments shared by her colleagues:

  • “You are always one of the first ones to the building every morning and have done so much for WMS from running ASB to creating the Personal Finance class. Great job!”
  • “It is going to be hard to replace someone like Robin, she truly is the hardest working teacher I have ever met. Robin is so trustworthy and kind.”
  • “I’ve never taught a day without Robin next door or across the hallway. Without a doubt, she has been the absolute best mentor and colleague I could have asked for in this profession.”
  • “Robin is the most rational person I have ever met. Never frazzled, never at a loss as to what to do, consistently and calmly changing the world one kid at a time! I feel so fortunate to have spent 12 amazing years alongside my friend.”