By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Over the course of her 29 years in education, Diane Woodworth has never been one to shrink away from a challenge. In fact, she actively seeks them out.
Woodworth feels this trait will serve her particularly well as she shifts into what could be the most challenging role of her career — superintendent of Goshen Community Schools.
Having served as an administrator within the corporation for the past seven years, most recently as deputy superintendent, Woodworth officially moved into her new position as GCS superintendent this month following the retirement of former GCS Superintendent Bruce Stahly earlier this year.
Born and raised on a dairy farm in rural Shipshewana, Woodworth graduated from Westview High School in 1973 before moving on to earn an associate degree in dental assisting from Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Mich.
“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school, and my parents hadn’t gone to college, so they didn’t really know much about the whole process,” Woodworth said. “In high school I was a candy striper, so I thought I might want to do something in the health field. So I ended up as a certified dental assistant for two years right here in Goshen.”
Always on the lookout for a new challenge, Woodworth got her first taste of the education field in 1978 when she left her Goshen home for sunny Puerto Rico where her new husband, Todd, had accepted a teaching job at a Mennonite school in San Juan.
“My husband was a Spanish major at Goshen College, and when we got married we said we wanted to do something a little different and travel,” Woodworth said. “So we ended up working at a Mennonite school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 1978 to 1980. He was teaching there, and I worked in the office.”
It was during her time in Puerto Rico that Woodworth said her love for the field of education really began to manifest, and in 1980 the couple moved back to Goshen to allow Woodworth to pursue a bachelor’s degree in math education from Goshen College.
“So we moved back here in 1980, and I finished my degree in 1983,” Woodworth said.
With her new teaching degree in hand, both Woodworth and her husband applied for and were hired as teachers at Northridge High School in the fall of 1983, and later moved to Middlebury in 1986 to be closer to work.
“But as I’ve said before, I always have this desire to have new challenges,” Woodworth said. “I was teaching math at the time, but I really loved talking to the students about their futures, possibly because I didn’t really have that when I was in high school. So someone recommended that I go get my guidance degree, and in 1988 I graduated from IUSB with a master’s degree in guidance and counseling.”
Woodworth worked as a guidance counselor at Northridge High School from 1988 to 1999, the last four years of which she served as the director of guidance. Then in 1999 she accepted a position as assistant principal at the high school, and in 2000 earned her principal’s license from Indiana University-South Bend.
Following her time at NHS, Woodworth returned to her roots at Westview High School in 2001, serving as principal of the school for three years before accepting the position of director of curriculum and special programs from 2004 to 2005.
“I was having a blast, and honestly when I went there, I thought I’d probably retire from there,” Woodworth said of her time at Westview. “My dad was driving bus. I was back home. I loved Westview. If you’d asked me then if I thought I’d be here now, I’d say ‘Yeah, right.’”
But in 2005 Woodworth received a call from then GCS Superintendent Bruce Stahly asking if she would consider joining the GCS administrative team, and her desire to pursue new challenges surfaced once again.
“I came and met with the administrative team, and I was torn, but it seemed like a great opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” Woodworth said. “So in 2005 I was hired as the new executive director of personnel. I did that for about three years.”
At around that same time, Woodworth also began work on her doctorate, and in 2007 she earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Purdue University.
“Then in 2008 we did some restructuring and I ended up being the assistant superintendent in charge of educational services for GCS,” Woodworth said. “And then in 2010 I accepted the position of deputy superintendent.”
Now officially settled into her new position, Woodworth said she feels confident she is ready for anything and everything the job may throw her way.
“Dr. Stahly is a wonderful mentor, and over the last few years he shared with me a lot of his thinking about a lot things, and I really picked his brain,” Woodworth said. “He was always so wonderful about explaining things to me, and he promised me now that he’s retired he won’t change his cell phone number, because I’m sure I’ll continue picking his brain down the road.”
In addition to Stahly’s expertise, Woodworth said she also couldn’t be happier with the quality of her support staff as she embarks on her new adventure.
“The staff here, it’s an absolute blessing and privilege to work with these people,” Woodworth said. “And I know many of them already. Obviously not all 1,000-plus employees, but I have developed many relationship with the people here over the years, so that’s a big plus.”
As she moves forward in her duties as superintendent, Woodworth said she is happy with the current direction of GCS, adding that she doesn’t have plans to make any drastic changes as can sometimes be the case when a new superintendent takes over the reins of a corporation.
“For now I think we’re on the right path, and I think that’s one of the benefits of being kind of an insider — I already understand the path, and I’m not feeling any great need to change it,” Woodworth said. “A lot of times that’s a problem with new superintendents who come in and change everything. When that happens, it can be very discouraging for everybody who was kind of engaged in this process of growing, and then suddenly everything changes. So I don’t feel any need to do that.
“One of the main things I’m continuing to be concerned about is student achievement here at Goshen Schools,” she continued. “I have a strong commitment to our three commitments — building background knowledge, developing a system of individual student feedback and ensuring effective teaching in every classroom. Those have really been a strong set of directions and signposts for us, and I plan to keep us on that journey.”
Woodworth lives in Goshen with her husband, Todd, a Spanish teacher and coach at Northridge High School. Together they have three children.