WMU News

Professor turned principal shares reform experience

Feb. 15, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Dr. George H. Wood, a professor at Ohio University who in 1992 traded his ivory tower post for a chance to put the ideals of school reform into practice, will speak from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, in Room 105 of Western Michigan University's Bernhard Center.

Wood's lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled "Creating a Tone of Decency: Genuine Change in American Schools" and draws on his research and experiences in transforming struggling schools.

A decade ago, the professor and founder of the Institute for Democracy in Education was offered the opportunity to put his ideals of democratic education and student-centered learning into action. He accepted the challenge and for eight years, worked as principal of Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio.

From reducing the number of classes students took per day to increasing student involvement in school decisions, Wood pushed successful reform measures that helped Federal Hocking become one of the top high schools in its region.

Today he is the founding director of Wildwood Secondary School, located on the west side of Los Angeles. Over the past two years, Wood has worked to implement such innovative ideas as interdisciplinary curricula, advisory and internship programs, and graduation portfolios.

He is the author of the 1998 book "A Time to Learn: Creating Community in America's High Schools," which promotes secondary schools as places where students can produce high-quality work and become the kind of citizens most adults would want as their neighbors. Woods' 1987 book, "Schools that Work," took readers inside successful classrooms throughout the country and established him as an expert on school reform.

Wood's appearance at WMU is sponsored by the College of Education and its GEAR UP--Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs-- initiative, a five-year, $14 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information about the lecture, contact GEAR UP project manager Shelly Carpenter at (269) 387-8287 or the GEAR UP office at (269) 387-6865.

Media contact: Gail H. Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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