The Wanderings of Woodman

The Wanderings of Woodman

Emily Worpek, Feature Editor

Upon entering the classroom of Keith Woodman, an American Literature and Public Speaking teacher at LHS, one immediately senses the positive vibes radiating from the room. The walls are plastered with posters of bands and musicians like Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan, along with the scattered impressive artwork created by his students over the eight years he’s been teaching. Woodman bounces around the classroom from one task to the next, with his Dunkin Donuts coffee never far out of reach. On a casual Friday you will find him sporting a simple flannel shirt; this Friday’s specifically being from a five dollar clearance bin, he proudly admits.

With his bright smile and his light-hearted sense of humor, Mr. Woodman is known as many student’s favorite teacher. He makes the class enjoyable with his witty jokes and constant positivity, but what else is there to this well loved teacher?

Outside of his time-consuming teaching job, Woodman enjoys snowboarding, woodworking, hiking, gardening, cooking, exercising, and is currently working hard to build an at-home gym in his backyard. He also has recently picked up playing the banjo and plays the guitar from time to time. Although he already fits so much into his daily life, he wants to take the time to learn how to play the piano and learn to speak at least two more languages. Another goal of his is to write a short story.

“I’d like to be able to write just one great short story. I don’t think that’s asking too much, I feel like everybody has at least one great short story in them and I’d really like to have one of those,” says Woodman as he wanders around the room aimlessly. One wonders if he’s searching for the hand sanitizer that he’s always rubbing on his hands (and desk).

In spite of working in a public high school, where teenagers are coughing, sneezing, sweating, and wiping their unwashed hands on everything, Woodman has a germ phobia.

“I wash my hands in between almost every class.” he states, but germs aren’t his only fear, he’s also terrified by clowns and death, because “I certainly don’t want to die; that would suck.”

Despite his common fears, Woodman has no fear of strange animals. He has possessed multiple unusual pets, including a mudskipper — a type of amphibious fish — and “a whole bunch of tarantulas named after the ninja turtles,” Woodman mentions mid laughter.

For a short period of his life he even had a raccoon that frequented his rooftop garden, named Rocky after the song by The Beatles called “Rocky Raccoon.” The background of this raccoon that has become a common story among his student begins with him eating pizza on his rooftop garden.

“I had a roof garden where I was living in Easthampton and we happened to live next to a Mexican restaurant. There was this injured raccoon living on the roof and one day I was out on the roof eating pizza so I threw him a piece and he just plopped down and held it in his little hands like a person, and sat there eating it, and he was content.” He continues, “My girlfriend came outside and I thought she would be upset I was feeding a raccoon, but instead she brought out more pizza to see what kind he’d like. We gave him a whole slice of sausage pizza and we all ate together and we ate like that for at least two weeks nightly until he just disappeared.”

Woodman wanders from story to story, place to place. Sometimes he seems distracted.

Which brings me to the next point about Woodman: The students of LHS should avoid this man at all costs while he’s behind the wheel. He admits he’s a very distracted driver.

“I’ve almost died a million times driving my car” he admits while looking off in the distance, “you know sometimes when I’m driving I kind of forget I‘m driving and all of a sudden I’m driving at something off on the side of the road.”

It may seem like Woodman is always joking, but he gives some advice that he feels everyone should live by: “Stay as optimistic as you possibly can,” he says with passion in his eyes. He then quickly adds another piece of advice: “If you take life lightly and try to help people it will always come around to benefit you.” This is a motto he truly lives by himself too.

And while Woodman spends his career helping his students, he also plans to reward himself with his very own “bucket list.”

Woodman has a short and simple bucket list. He wants to learn to sail and visit a mere two places: Yellowstone National Park and Italy. More specifically he wants to visit Sicily, Italy, because, “I’d like to see where my grandmother was living and meet her family, and I also think it’d be romantic to bring my girlfriend there.”

The topic of bucket lists and mortality brings us to who Woodman would want to bring back from the dead. He is quick to answer with his grandfather, father, and Jerry Garcia — the lead singer of the famous band from the 1960’s: The Grateful Dead.

After he cites his list he quipped, “I probably should have said John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Ghandi,” adding that he’d just really rather see his first choices instead.

Woodman talks about books, concerts, near-death experiences, and more. On the way out he says he wants to settle down and live by the beach “because that’s where it all began.” I’m not sure exactly what he means by that but I did catch that he isn’t leaving anytime soon. At the moment there is nothing to fear, for the next few years anyway, hundreds of students will have the opportunity to learn under the guidance of Keith Woodman.