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ID: Rebecca Woodland

  • Rebecca Woodland <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Rebecca Woodland <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Rebecca Woodland lived in Amherst back in the late
’80s when she was an undergraduate at the University of
Massachusetts Amherst. She then moved to Colorado and later to northern Vermont. She has worked at a shelter for children, as a history and civics teacher, and an evaluator for federal education programs and grants.

In 2006, she made her way back to the Valley to be closer to family and so that her kids would grow up in New England. She is now a tenured professor of educational leadership at UMass, working with K-12 school superintendents and principals to study and build effective teacher teams. She recently went way out of her comfort zone and became a licensed Zumba fitness instructor. At 44, she says, she has never felt more grateful and appreciative of the beauty in life.

Full name: Rebecca Helen Woodland

Date and place of birth: March 14, 1969, Cleveland, Ohio

Address: Amherst

Who lives under the same roof as you? My wonderful husband, Michael; son, Gabe, 14; and daughter, Emma, 10 (and two pups)

Education: Doctorate in educational leadership from Colorado State University, 2001; master’s degree in special education from the University of Northern Colorado, 1997; and a bachelor’s degree in political science from UMass

Pets: Ginger, our tennis ball- and water-lovin’ chocolate Lab; and Sadie, our sweet southern yellow Lab mix

Hobbies: Teaching Zumba fitness classes, making photo-scrapbooks through Snapfish, reading

Book you’d recommend to a friend: “The Elegance of a Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson

Favorite TV shows: “Modern Family” and “Downton Abbey”

Five items you can’t live without: iPhone, canned artichoke hearts in water, full-length down puffy coat — I wear it eight-and-a-half months of the year, my ZIN membership, Starbucks VIA — those little packets are fantastic

Last thing you purchased just for fun: A framed landscape panoramic photo called “Autumn Mystery” by Patrick Zephyr

What’s at the top of your bucket list? To continue to be able to conduct research and teach about the effects of teacher-teaming on quality of classroom instruction with the passionate and talented graduate students of the UMass College of Education — and hopefully do so in such a way that it leads to my earning the designation of “full” professor someday

Life-changing experience: Those magical occasions when one of my kids slips a hand in mine or gives me a hug and says, “You are a great mom” — I feel my life change in the most wonderful ways

Strangest job you ever held: When my mom was having a renovation done on her home in the mountains of New Hampshire, I was tasked with being the Porta Potty stirrer

A little-known fact about you: I was the play-by-play analyst for the UMass men’s basketball team when John Calipari was head coach

Dumbest thing you ever did: See strangest job

One trend you’d like to see return: Handwritten letters

What really sets you off? When people are mean or complain about so-called “first world” problems

If you could spend the day with a celebrity from any time in history, who would it be? Malala Yousafzai. I would love to be in the presence of such strength of character and to hear first-hand her message of the power of education

Best advice you ever got: From my dad — “In life, don’t waste time mucking with turkeys — go fly with eagles”

Favorite place to get a bite: Mission Cantina in Amherst. The Ensalada Cantina with fresh citrus chili vinaigrette is unbelievable

Favorite team: The 1983-1984 Boston Celtics. I met Larry Bird that year and the Celtics beat the Lakers 4-3 in the NBA finals

What does your ideal weekend look like? Spending time outdoors — hiking, swimming; hanging out with the kids — jumping on the trampoline, making banana bread, playing board games; attending spur-of-the-moment neighborhood gatherings — to play badminton or roast marshmallows

One thing you would change about yourself: Letting go of worry over things over which I have no control — which is most things

What gives you the creeps? The cockroaches that show up in the hallways at work

People who knew you in high school thought you were: Outgoing

Whom do you most admire? Elizabeth Warren. I admire her commitment to doing what’s right and her personal and professional achievements — stay-at-home mom, beloved professor, wife/partner, consumer advocate, and now senator

Parting shot: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice — Martin Luther King Jr.

— Compiled by Brenda Nelson

To suggest someone for ID, send an email to bnelson@gazettenet.com.

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