Molino Park Principal Woodward Retires After 30 Years (With Gallery)

May 31, 2016

Molino Park Elementary School Principal Alice Woodward is retiring after 30 years in local education.

Woodward is proud of her connection to the local community and her connection to three local schools. She started her teaching career in 1986 at Barrineau Park Elementary School. She moved into administration as the curriculum coordinator and then served as a principal intern splitting her time between Barrineau Park and Molino Elementary while the new Molino Park Elementary School was under construction. Molino Park opened in the fall of 2003, and  Woodward stepped into the role of principal in the fall of 2006.

“It’s very rare to have a principal who has worked in a single school and then ended up principal in that same school,” Woodward explained. “This is our world and it is wonderful to be in the same community for 30 years. I was very fortunate to have that door open for me.”

During the last five years Woodward has had parents come into the school that are her former students. “As a matter of fact, I signed a yearbook yesterday for a little girl and she was so sweet she came up and said, ‘I love you, Mrs. Woodward, and thank you for teaching my daddy.’  So I signed her yearbook, I love you and you are very special, just like your daddy was.”

For more photos, click here.

She will happily talk about how much she enjoys crossing paths with her students and their families, outside of school at Jimmy’s Grill, or church, or the ballpark where she would go to watch her kids or her grandkids along with her  students. “I think I was a coach’s nightmare,” she says with a laugh. “I walked up and the kids were all hollering, ‘Hey. Mrs. Woodward,’ instead of watching the ball game.”

“It’s been a lot of fun. I enjoy getting to see them other places then just the schoolhouse. It makes us a family and a community.”

When she looks back at the beginning of her career, Woodward smiles and says, “I was so happy to be a teacher! I couldn’t believe they were going to pay me to do this job. I remember telling my sister, this is so much fun I can’t believe they pay me to do this!”

When Woodward was first hired by the school district, her first assignment was to teach second grade at Barrineau Park Elementary School. Her daughter was going into second grade and there was only one homeroom. “She was going to have to be in my classroom and I made a promise to myself, and my students’ parents, that I would treat their children like they were mine, instead of treating my child like she were theirs.  That means you have to get onto them sometimes, but you love them all the time. I have tried to stay true to that promise.”

“That’s the same thing I told my parents when I became a principal in 2006. By then I had grandchildren here, so I told them I would treat their children like they were one of my grandchildren, instead of treating my grandchild like one of theirs.”

For today’s new teachers Woodward has some words of advice, “Number one you have got to love what you do, and if in your first few years of teaching you don’t love it, go find another job. If you don’t, it will wear you out.”

For teachers who are considering whether or not to make the move into administration, she says, “If you begin to look around and see that you want to affect more people and more children, and you want to hone your leadership skills, then going into administration is a great idea” Woodward explained. “But, if you don’t like to be the leader and be the listener as well, don’t go into administration. It’s a team effort and leading and listening are equally important.”

“Alice Woodward is well respected in the north end of our county, and specifically at Molino Park Elementary School. Her devotion to her faculty and staff, her students, and to her community has never been questioned. She will leave a void as someone else will do her job but no one else can take her place,” stated Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.

Woodward was selected last year as the Escambia County School District’s Principal of the Year.  Sara Calhoun, a Molino Park teacher and parent, contributed to the nomination package. She describes Woodward this way, “Although she is quick to always celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of others, she never seeks any recognition for herself for the tremendous gains our school has made. Her desire to strive for excellence as we educate these young minds, while never neglecting to gently shape each precious heart, makes her an exemplary leader. I know that I am eternally grateful for the ‘fingerprints’ she has left on my own children.”

So how did the Molino staff decided they would recognize Woodward’s accomplishments? How would they thank her?

If you visit Molino Park Elementary you will see art on the walls, not hanging on the walls, but painted on the walls. One hallway, in fact, it is painted floor to ceiling with an underwater scene. So, it is not a surprise that they decided to show their thanks in a way that would honor her professional history with a mural.

“We commissioned Loren Miller to create a mural that shows Barrineau Park School, where Mrs. Woodward started her teaching career; Molino Elementary School, where she became a leader; and Molino Park Elementary School where she has served as principal since 2006,” explained Assistant Principal Quinn Evans. “She was involved in every detail when the two older schools were closed and all of the students transferred into the new school.”

“It is humbling,” Woodward says of their gift.

Woodward leaves Molino Park with a message for the community.

“Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for supporting me.  Thank you for supporting your children and helping them be the best they can be and learn, and thank you for making this community what it is.”

For more photos, click here.

Pictured above: Retiring Molino Park Elementary School Principal Alice Woodward spent the last day of school saying goodbye to students, staff members and volunteers. Pictured below: A cafeteria mural in Woodward’s honor. Photos for, click to enlarge.


7 Responses to “Molino Park Principal Woodward Retires After 30 Years (With Gallery)”

  1. Amanda on June 1st, 2016 9:10 pm

    My family has loved and respected Mrs. Woodward for many years; all the way back to her first year of teaching when she was my second grade teacher until recently as my niece and nephews Principal. A truly wonderful person! Enjoy your retirement !!!

  2. Ann Joiner on May 31st, 2016 8:11 pm

    Alice Woodward is an amazing educator. She was my daughter Heather’s teacher at Barrineau Park in the second grade and was fortunate to have Mr. Woodward again in the fifth grade. Heather learned so much from her that she has carried through her scholastic career. All Mrs. Woodard’s students and faculty will certainly miss her. I know I will as a volunteer at Molino Park. Congratulations on your retirement and go forth and enjoy your free time. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Melodies4us on May 31st, 2016 4:48 pm

    I am happy for Ms. Woodward, but not so for Molino Elementary. It will be tough to fill her shoes. She is a wonderful principle!

  4. KC on May 31st, 2016 10:53 am

    Mrs. Woodward was my second grade teacher at Barrineau Park Elm. She was an amazing teacher, a little strict, but more involved then most. When I finally got to send my now 7th grader to Molino Park in the 4th grade I was so excited that she was his Principal.. She inspired and set so many kids up for success she has accomplished more in her years of education then 20 teacher could do in forty. Mrs Woodward you were Awesome and Thank You for all you have done with me and the kids in our community!!!

  5. Amber F on May 31st, 2016 10:32 am

    Mrs. Woodward is an amazing lady and my children loved her. Thank you for always being there for all of the children. Happy retirement!!!

  6. Mrs. Ellis on May 31st, 2016 9:39 am

    Congratulations Alice! Enjoy your retirement as much as you enjoyed your career!

  7. mary on May 31st, 2016 7:26 am

    WOW! Mrs Woodward was my daughter’s kindergarten in the early 90’s. my daughter (Natalie Orpin) loved her soo much that every christmas for 5 yrs she had to buy Mrs. Woodward a gift. I wish you a wonderful retirement!!!!

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