Bay Elementary School teacher Barb Woodburn retires after 51 years

Barbara Woodburn is retiring after 51 years teaching in the Bay Schools.

Westerly fourth-grade teacher Barbara Woodburn is ending her accomplished Bay Village career, retiring May 31. Woodburn has proudly served students, parents, fellow teachers, staff and the school system since her starting in 1972 – 51 years ago.

“Not one day has ever felt like work,” Woodburn stated in reflecting on her time teaching in Bay. She credited the sheer joy of teaching children as the motivating factor for her extensive tenure. She also credited the “team” teaching concept, which she helped establish in Bay, allowing teachers to split teaching duties 50/50, rather than teaching full-time every day. 

“I was truly blessed to have taught with two of the best teachers and friends with anyone you could hope for in Lu Laing and Mary Jo Mahall,” explained Woodburn. Mahall is also retiring this year.

Woodburn has cheerfully zipped through the halls of Westerly for decades. Her “perma-grin” smile has been ever-present among students. While positively impacting the lives of over one thousand students, she has also been an innovator. She was instrumental in the success of the Ohio History Week program at Westerly. And her collaboration with other teachers resulting in the First / Fourth grade Key Chain company has been recognized as a program of excellence by the Harvard School of Business. This program paired first graders with fourth graders in designing, assembling and selling key chains to other students teaching basic business concepts.

Her efforts have also been recognized by parents and students. Woodburn was a regular recipient of the Apple Award, given to teachers who have been identified by a student in either 8th grade or 12th grade as the instructor who made the most significant impact in their life. She also implemented numerous school programs to benefit children in Cleveland, such as the Shoebox Ministry.

While her students have been a major focus for many years, she has also been very active outside the classroom. She and her husband of 62 years, Ian Woodburn, have volunteered for and given generously to non-profits and causes including their church, needy families, school levy campaigns, school scholarships, foster children programs, the Village Foundation, adult literacy programs and many more.

Woodburn has lived her entire life in the area. She grew up in a home on Bradley Road in Dover (now Westlake) very close to the Bay border. After graduating as class valedictorian with a degree in Education from Ohio University, she and Ian bought a house in Bay Village and have called Bay their home since.

Barbara will continue to live in Bay Village and enjoy spending time with her family, including eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Congratulations to Barbara Woodburn for an outstanding teaching career and well-deserved retirement.  

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Volume 15, Issue 9, Posted 9:48 AM, 05.16.2023