Meet the Board: Deanna Woods
When Deanna Woods retired, she wondered what she would do with her time. But filling her time has not been a problem. The newest OPRI Board member shares that the key is to keep learning and to do something that makes a difference.
Throughout her career, Deanna served in the Portland Public Schools, where she spent 30 years teaching high school language arts and composition. While she says everything she taught was interesting, it was the students she fell in love with.
“I wanted to work myself out of a job,” she says, as she worked to help her students become independent.
In 1994, she took a two-year leave from district work to work in Washington, DC for the American Federation of Teachers in Education Issues (AFT). While there, she created research-based training materials. These materials helped teachers with their professional development by helping them learn to apply research knowledge to classroom practice. Then, she returned to classroom teaching in Portland.
Since retiring in 2000, she has continued to stay active in the education community, spending five years working with the Onward to Excellence school improvement program for Education NW. She is currently still developing research-based training modules and does training for educators both in America and in the West Bank through the AFT and has written two research-based books on school improvement.
Over the course of the years, Deanna has served on several state-level citizens advisory committees to the legislature and the State Board of Education. For two terms, she was a commissioner on the Oregon Teachers Standards and Practices Commission, and is currently serving on the AFT-Oregon Retirees Executive Board. It was through her AFT service that she first learned about OPRI, through fellow Board member Greg Monahan’s reports on the organization.
“Currently, OPRI is providing an invaluable service for Oregon retirees, staying involved with decisionmakers to protect our benefits, assisting retirees with retirement challenges affecting their pensions,” she says. “This is a vitally important service at a time when many in America are more willing to cut the benefits of retired Americans in both public and private sectors.” She also states that she would like to ensure that both new and current retirees understand the value and role of OPRI.
“Research studies have been done on retirees and what they want from their retirement,” she says. “Almost universally, retirees want to make these years have meaning, want to make a difference in the world. That’s hopeful for our communities and the state. The fact that Oregon’s retirees have a reliable income through PERS is an essential component in their ability to be involved in their communities. They are able to spend locally, supporting their communities. And most importantly, they are able to contribute their knowledge, experience, and wisdom to the wellbeing of those communities.”
Deanna has proven that retirement does not mean you can no longer be relevant. When she is not serving through academic training programs and participating in the union, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and doing at home fix-it projects on her 94-year-old house.