When she was first contacted about working at the University of North Florida Dr. Janice Wood says she was reluctant to take the job. She had experience in managing reading programs in elementary schools and was happy in that field. "I really never had any intentions of working at the college level. I turned the UNF job down three times."
But as fate would have it she began teaching a course in Jacksonville for the University of Miami. The experience pointed her in the direction of higher education. "I figured out I really liked working with adults," says Wood. In addition, the years of observing elementary and secondary teachers convinced her that there was a need to improve some teaching methods being used in the school system. "I saw teachers using some strategies that weren't effective. That's what really got me interested in teacher education."
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Wood received her bachelor's degree from Cedarville College in Cedarville, Ohio. After teaching in Dayton, Ohio, Wood and her husband, Lowell, who was also an educator, moved to Fort Pierce, Fla., following a Christmas vacation to the Sunshine State. They taught at Fort Pierce, and later moved to Duval County. She was a supervisor in a federally funded reading program for the county when she was offered the opportunity to come to UNF. She received her doctorate at FSU while teaching here.
Looking back on the early days at the University Wood says it was a particularly difficult time for her. She had a 1 year old son and while teaching classes she traveled to Florida State three times a week to work on her Ph.D. in early childhood education, which she received in 1974. But the hard times had rewards. "It was also a wonderful time designing and developing the early childhood program at UNF," Wood says.
She is currently involved in the development and implementation of a new primary education program. The new certification program, designed for those studying to become teachers of children age 3 through third grade, requires a separate certification and represents a significant change from prior years. She's also been instrumental in the development of many community projects, including the establishment of family resource centers and early literacy initiatives.
"It's very rewarding," Wood says of her career at UNF. "It's nice to see students grow and then see them in the classroom teaching. Most of our students get hired in urban schools. That's the toughest place to work and our students succeed."