After 50 years on the job, Hobby counselor still serving children

May 13, 2011

When Bobby Wood began working for Northside ISD, district enrollment was just 5,500, Murray Boone was superintendent, and John F. Kennedy had just been elected president.

Fifty years later, Hobby Middle School’s head guidance counselor remains vital, vibrant and as committed as ever to helping children.

Wood, 72, was among more than 500 employees honored at the District’s Retirement and Recognition Ceremony May 11. Altogether, the honorees represent more than 11,700 years of service to Northside ISD. Wood is responsible for 50 of them.

In fact, she’s the first employee in District history to be honored for 50 years of service. And no, she is not retiring this year.

“I just really love children,” says Wood, the mother of two and grandmother of three. “I never dreamed I would stay this long. Now I don’t think about quitting.”

She has become used to friends and colleagues pestering her about why she’s still working when most people her age are enjoying retirement – including her husband. For the record, she’s planning to retire in two years, so that she can follow this year’s sixth graders through to their graduation from middle school.

Wood started her career in January of 1961 as a first grade teacher at Westwood Terrace Elementary School. She later moved to Mary Hull Elementary, and then to Cable, after earning a master’s degree to become a reading specialist.

A few years later, she earned a second master’s degree in counseling, and in 1975 she joined the staff at Hobby Middle School as a guidance counselor. She’s been at Hobby for 36 years.

A lot changes in a generation.

Students come to school today with a lot more baggage and a lot more needs, Wood said, but it just makes her job more interesting.

“Every day is so different,” she said. “You never know what’s going to come up.”

Every so often, she can’t escape her longevity. This year, she had a student whose last name she recognized, and she asked if he had an older brother. It turned out she been the guidance counselor for his father when he was a student.

She admits that after her second year of teaching, she did think about leaving the education profession.

As a summer job, “I tried being an airline hostess, but I couldn’t stand it,” she said. “I lasted three months and thought, ‘I’m going back to Northside.’”

Since then, she’s never thought about leaving education or Northside ISD.

Impeccably dressed and groomed, Wood looks at least 10 years younger than she is. She wakes up at 5 a.m. every weekday so that she can be at school early. She’s not afraid to break up a fight and she’s not afraid of new technology, says Hobby Principal Tracy Tietze.

“Bobby keeps up with the changes and the times,” Tietze said. “If I had to describe her in three words, it would be dependable, reliable and committed. If I pick up the phone, she’s there.”

Students don’t talk about how old Wood is – she’s just Mrs. Wood, said sixth grader Emily Sorvilla.

“She’s easy to talk to,” Emily said.

There are some things that haven’t changed over the last 50 years, Wood said.

“They’re still children,” she said. “They still have the same needs all children have. There’s something good in all of them.”