In the Spotlight

Florence Wood (Whitesboro Retiree)

A Daughter's Tribute

Thank you so much for giving me a few minutes to talk about my mom.  My name is Deb Molina and my mom is Florence Wood. Today is her 80th birthday and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to honor her and thank her.  I’m going to do this by telling you about some of the things she loves.

My mom has always been an athlete.  She was a lifeguard when she was young and an avid skier.  When she taught at Westmoreland Road School, she used to teach skiing on the tiny hill in the back of the school. She’d bring her skis to school and spend her lunch teaching kids to snowplow and side step.  That used to be the criteria for kids to be able to go on the Saturday school ski trips. And mom was on that bus every Saturday as a chaperone and ski instructor!  And she skied just a few years ago, when she brought Melissa, a young woman from Costa Rica on her 1st and only ski trip.

Mom and Richard love to travel.  They have visited all 7 continents and have had some remarkable adventures.  They’ve seen penguins in Antarctica, gorillas in Rwanda and polar bears in Churchill, Canada. They’ve gone up the Amazon River, and walked on the Great Wall of China. They’ve hiked and paddled, visited schools and made friends along the way.  And if you knew my mom's dietary restrictions, you’d understand how truly adventurous that is!  Who know you could live on rice and peanut butter for weeks?

She also has a great love of reading.  She reads non-stop, whether it’s books or the newspaper.  We have a joke that after visiting places all around the world, all she has really seen is the inside of a book.

My mom loves to learn and is always taking classes.  When she was teaching Gifted and Talented students she learned to do basic programming on a computer and she was one of the 1st people I know to do so.  She’s taken stained glass classes and made some beautiful pieces.  She is truly a life long learner.

Mom was born to teach.  When I was young, I loved helping her set up her room in the fall.  She would always be excited about the new school year!  She always made sure that the kids who needed extra help, got it and I know there are many adults who count Mrs. Wood as one of their favorite teachers because of her caring and creativity.

And now she’s retired. So what is she doing? TEACHING!!!  And she’s loving it.  She tutors immigrants from around the world and helps them learn to read and write English.  She has one student taking his citizenship test today and if he passes- fingers crossed- that will be 24 people she has helped become United States citizens.

Mom loves to help.  She has played  active roles in her ADK sorority and with the NYSUT union.  One time when she was visiting me in California, she and Richard saw a teacher’s picket line, and they both grabbed signs and jumped in. She is generous with her time and never learned to say “NO!”.

And finally, she loves her family.  She and Richard, her husband, of 48 years, are a great pair, whether traveling or volunteering or helping others.  By the way, it’s Richard 88 birthday on Saturday. Mom and Richard have always given me love and support, and I’m grateful to mom for passing down many of the things she loves on to me!  Thank you Mom! Happy birthday!  Happy Mother’s Day!  I love you!