Moffat County High School teacher Emmy Wood adds tasty twist to classes
CRAIG — As Moffat County High School’s new family and consumer science teacher, Emmy Wood traded in a “food desert” for the high desert when she and her family moved from the Denver area to Craig last fall. “I began my teaching career in Denver at a pre-K-8 school. I taught art and technology there. While there, I partnered with the fourth-grade teacher and Regis University to create a learning garden that utilized organic and permaculture practices,” Wood said. “This was important, as the school was located in a food desert — there are no grocery stores in the area. I loved getting the kids out in the garden to draw and incorporate lessons on seed-saving and food-tasting into my art and technology classes. That is when I started thinking about gaining my credentials to be able to teach culinary arts. Food and nutrition have always been important to me.”
In her 10th year of teaching, Wood is the instructor for three levels of MCHS classes, including culinary arts, sewing and fashion design, and family and child development.
Wood said she started in the kitchen at age 10 to help her family and later worked in restaurants before getting married.
“When my husband proposed to me, I started thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life and realized that making money for other people really wasn’t bringing me joy. That is what led me back to school to finish my degree in education,” she said. “After starting my own family, cooking and learning food preservation techniques became important to help stretch our budget. We lived in a suburb of Denver called Wheat Ridge that had pretty farmer-friendly codes. We were allowed to raise all sorts of poultry (including roosters), as well as miniature goats. We were producing about 80 percent of our own food in our backyard in conjunction with upland bird hunting. We eventually started a home-based business where we sold eggs and hatched chickens. People came from all over the area to buy birds from us.”
Craig Press: What were you like as a student?
Emmy Wood: As a student, I always strived to do my best. I graduated high school a semester early with a 3.8 GPA by taking an independent study focusing on the chemistry of ceramics where I was inventing my own colored stains. I used the extra time to travel around Britain with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, before starting college. I was motivated to do well in high school because I wanted to go to college, and the only way I was going to be able to do that was with scholarships.
Why did you choose Moffat County?
Once we decided to leave Denver, we started thinking about what we value as a family and how we like to spend our free time. We knew we wanted a small town to escape the craziness, congestion, and stress of living in the city, but weren’t sure where we would ultimately end up. We spent about a year exploring different areas of Colorado, considering things like climate data, crime, technology, infrastructure, and activities available in the areas. We had been growing and hunting the majority of our own food for years, so we definitely wanted to be somewhere that that would still be possible.
My oldest son had the opportunity to go on a youth hunt, and that pretty much hooked us on big game hunting, so Craig and Moffat County jumped to the top of our list as the place to be. There is also great potential in this corner of Colorado for growth and sustainability. It took another year for everything to line up as far as buying and selling our house and finding the right jobs. We spent last summer getting moved into our new house, updating it, and getting used to sharing our yard with the deer. We are excited to start our garden next year.
What do you do if your students don’t “get it?”
I’m fortunate in my content to be able to spiral back to concepts that students struggled with, and I also offer alternative ways for students to demonstrate mastery and understanding. I pull from my experiences teaching technology and art to put my own spin on a content area that can be considered old-fashioned or not academically (in the traditional sense) challenging. I really want my students to succeed in the content area. Because I am teaching skills that apply to life, some students need more time with a concept to really digest it, while others need to express what they know through means beyond what a traditional test can show.
If a visitor came to your classroom or office and took a photo, what would he or she see in that photo?
They would see a lot of student collaboration, hands-on learning, and technology integration.
How do you measure your success as an educator?
I am always looking for student growth. I value student communication and self-expression and hope to inspire lifelong learning in all my students.
How are you involved in the community outside school?
I have only lived here six months and have been pretty overwhelmed with all the changes and getting used to the new rhythm of life on the Western Slope. We have already met many people in the community and feel really welcomed by Craig. My husband and I are excited to get more involved with many of the organizations and opportunities in Moffat County. I really enjoyed getting to meet the veterans last fall when my culinary three students catered breakfast for them at the high school’s Veterans Day event. I look forward to more opportunities to give back to the community.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
We are so happy to have chosen to move to Craig. We feel welcomed by the community and are happy to have traded the conveniences and instant gratification available in Denver for the quiet and slower-paced community. Craig is the gem of Northwest Colorado, and we feel like Craig has welcomed us into the family.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.