TCTC teacher gets top state honor | News, Sports, Jobs

CHAMPION — Jill Woods of Southington, a dental assisting instructor at Trumbull Career and Technical Center, this summer was named the 2022 “Outstanding New Career Technical Education Teacher of the Year.”

Woods was among several educators and administrators involved with career and technical education from across the state to receive the recognition that was bestowed during the Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education annual Innovation and Impact conference in July in Columbus.

Recipients were selected by their peers.

“I am grateful to have received this award on behalf of TCTC. It is an amazing school,” Woods said.

Woods teaches the dental-assisting program at TCTC. She is a graduate of the career center in the former Diversified Health Occupations program and came back to teach after more than 20 years of a career in local dental offices.

Although other career centers have dental-assisting programs, the program was new to TCTC when Woods was hired in 2017. Prior to that, she was a dental assistant starting in 1991 and then worked as an office manager at an endodontist root canal specialist office.

Woods said the award recognizes new educators with five or fewer years of service.

Paula Baco, director of TCTC who nominated Woods for the award, said the lab was an empty room when Woods began collaborating with other instructors around the state.

“Over the past five school years, she has built a successful program with full enrollment,” Baco said.

Baco said Woods’ connections with dental offices, Youngstown State University and the community have been valuable to the success of her program.

“She partners with several hygienists and dentists who come to TCTC to co-teach lessons and evaluate students during the dental radiography course,” Baco said.

Each year since her first senior class of 2019, Woods has had students out working at local dental offices, meeting work-based learning hours.

“She has built a strong partnership with Youngstown State University, where TCTC students are afforded the opportunity to assist the student hygienists during their clinicals and dental hygiene board exams,” Baco said.

Baco said Woods’ commitment to the community while providing her students opportunities to practice their skills is “unparalleled.”

Woods and her students partner with the Early Childhood Education program, a local elementary school, and two area preschools and arrange for preschoolers and first-graders to visit and learn about proper brushing and flossing and to learn what to expect when at a dentist’s office.

The students also partnered with a local dentist office this past November to provide free care to veterans on Veterans Day. The students worked as assistants in the office that day and saw 30 veterans.

Woods, who is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, said she wanted to be able to provide the service to veterans as a way to give back.

“This is a good opportunity for students to have hands-on practice,” she said.

Woods and her students worked this year to organize a free dental health clinic called TCTC Dental Day for 18 TCTC students. She arranged for four hygienists to offer cleanings under the direction of a dentist who volunteered his time. TCTC students did the X-rays and served as assistants for the day.

“Woods is passionate about her program and cares deeply about her students and their success, which makes her an outstanding new CTE educator,” Baco said.

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