CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Marble Falls High School social studies teacher Diane Woods finds her inspiration from her family, the “peacemakers” in history and lifelong learning.
“I would like to be a role model, to be a lifelong learner,” Woods said. “In order to have a fulfilling life, you have to be a learner, so I hope that teachers instill the love of learning in kids more than anything. If they love to learn, and they know how to answer difficult questions, then I’ve done my job.”
The Picayune readers and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune listeners voted Woods the 2015 Locals Love Us favorite teacher for the Marble Falls area. Her past achievements include being voted the Highland Lakes Legacy Fund Teacher of Year by her students. Every year, the Legacy Fund ensures every Marble Falls High School graduate receives at least one scholarship to further their post-secondary education.
“The students are the best part of the job, really,” she said. “They’re the reason you can put up with all the stuff going on with testing and standardization.”
Woods has been an educator for 13 years. During her career, she has taught economics, U.S. history, world geography and current issues and events as well as advanced placement courses in a number of those subjects.
“Teaching was just the natural choice. That and both my parents were educators,” said Woods, who received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake.
She said two professors at two different higher-learning institutions sparked her interest in becoming the best teacher she could be.
“They were my inspirations on how to tell a story and how to make history come alive for students,” she said. “I just remember sitting in their classes thinking, ‘When I’m teaching, I would like students to be this mesmerized.’”
Woods is currently enrolled in a master’s program to continue her education and enhance what she offers students.
“I understand the kids’ workload in addition to their lives,” she said. “All teachers need to go back to school at one point so they can understand the struggles they have to balance it all.”
Her husband, Jem Woods, is a paramedic. Her daughters are Marble Falls High School students: Shelbi, 16, who enjoys choir and theater; and Lyndsi, 15, who plays volleyball and basketball and runs track.
“I hope that it brings us closer,” she said of her children attending the school where she teaches. “They get to see me in a different light.”
Along with her husband and her daughters, historical figures such as Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. have influenced her life in a positive way.
“The peacemaker and the people who believed in equality and fairness would be my most inspirational historic figures,” she said. “I thinks it’s important that all students feel value, and I think it’s important that everyone be treated the same regardless of their age, their gender, their race. That’s another important aspect of history that we need.”
Woods said the district staff and her students feed her creativity, energy and motivation as she carries out her responsibilities as an educator.
“I have a really good social studies team around me. I think it’s really important you work with people that you like and respect,” she said. “When the students go away and send you an email or tell you when they see you that what you taught them helped them in life, that’s the intrinsic reward that is much better than anything.”