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Joe Wooding

Wooding, Joe

From the Duwamish down to the Puyallup and now up near the Nooksack: I have inhabited Coast Salish territory all my life. This compels me to manifest care for people who share this place.

I graduated from Federal Way public schools in 1996 then served the district through AmeriCorps, the national community service organization. My experiences and mentors, Monda Holsinger and Kamala Saxton, inspired me to pursue education, equity, and diversity.

My parents positioned me to become the first in my family to complete college. Following brief stints at Pierce and Highline Community College, I transferred to Western Washington University in 1999. At Western I gravitated toward the American Cultural Studies program where I studied U.S. history, sociology, and political science. As an undergrad, I continued to volunteer in schools alongside campus leaders like Andrea Gamboa and Stephany Hazelrigg-Hernandez. After earning a bachelor's degree in 2003, I collaborated with Eric Davis, TJ Martin, and Avianca Walker on a not-for-profit venture called Project 2050. Our organization aspired to inspire civil controversy about demographic disparities and change. With the addition of Justin Englebrecth-Larkin, our emphasis expanded to address economic inequalities. Unfortunately, Project 2050 proved to be unsustainable.

Looking to pursue a different direction, I followed my wife, Ronni Weston, into teaching. In 2005, I returned to Western Washington University, enrolled in Woodring College, then interned under Steve Lawrence. After earning a master's degree and teaching certificate in 2007, I was hired by Bellingham Public Schools and have been working with the district ever since. From supporting special education as a paraeducator to teaching Advanced Placement, I have assumed an array of roles in schools. Collaborating with Jeff Thran to transform 8th grade social studies into a rite-of-passage experience remains my professional highlight thus far. Currently, I am serving as an instructional coach and co-teaching Ethnic Studies with Dr. Verónica N. Vélez.