Barbara Todd has spent her life preparing herself to teach others.
From a very young age she knew that a career in teaching was her future and there was nothing that was going to stand in her way.
Todd was raised on Shacktown Road just a few miles from her present day home. She was raised by parents who instilled a strong passion for education.
“I was very fortunate that I had two parents who I knew loved me,” Todd said. “They also believed strongly that I was going to have a better life than they had. To make sure that I did have a better life than they had they wanted me to go to college.”
Todd said that her mother was a stay at home mom and her father was a state employee. Despite their modest income they promised Todd that she would go on to get a college degree and that she would lead a more successful life than theirs.
“Mother would always say you’re going to get an education that I did not have an opportunity to have and you’re going to have a better life than I did,” Todd said. “So from the time I went into first and second grade I knew I was going to college.”
Todd said that from that point on she convinced herself that she wanted to one day teach whatever grade she was in at the time and when she made it to high school she was taking all of the college prep and advanced courses that were available to her.
“When it came down to what I wanted to major in I just wasn’t sure,” Todd said. “I had taken all the math, all the science, all the social studies and all of the English and the advanced classes that they had at the high school and I was tired of all of them. I didn’t know that I wanted to major in any of them.”
An answer would come soon though when a friend of Todd’s who was attending UNC-Greensboro told her about the school’s home economics program and inspired her to pursue that field in life.
“I realized that I had done one of the things in the home economics program in 4-H, and I enjoyed it. so I wound up going to UNCG,” Todd said. “I got the Perspective Teacher Scholarship, so if I taught for four years I didn’t have to pay it back and my parents paid the rest of my tuition.”
When graduation time rolled around, Todd said that her job prospects were looking bleak due to the economy. She decided to enroll in graduate school at UNCG and earned a master’s degree in education with a focus on early childhood education and parenting.
She was offered her first job in Wilkes County just one day before the students were scheduled to arrive. Todd worked in the Wilkes County Schools career center where she began the early childhood education program and served North, East, West Wilkes and Wilkes Central High Schools.
“I tried to work and find out what Wilkes Community College was teaching in early childhood and I tried to make sure what we covered would fit in with what Wilkes Community College wanted their incoming students to have,” Todd said.
Todd spent 13 years serving at the Wilkes County career center before another opportunity presented itself. Some of Todd’s former UNCG professors had begun to contact her regarding a new program at the school called a certificate of advanced studies and suggested that it would be a good fit for Todd.
Todd said this came at a perfect time because after 13 years in the classroom she had started to reevaluate if she wanted to teach for the rest of her life.
“During some of that time I had some students that made me question whether or not I wanted to stay in the classroom for the rest of my life or not,” Todd said. “They were not difficult students, it’s just that I saw the potential and I knew they weren’t living up to it and I worried. I worried about it a whole lot more than the students did or their parents did and I just thought it was crazy. I started looking for a way to get out of the classroom.”
So while Todd was earning her certificate of advanced studies one of her professor challenged her to go on and pursue her doctorate. At first she didn’t think much of the suggestion but when she realized how close she was to already completing the degree she saw a way out of the classroom but not out of teaching.
“When you’re working on your doctorate you can cater the program to you so I thought why not work a strong minor in school administration and that way I would have way to get out of the classroom and still be involved in what I knew, what I loved and what I believed in,” Todd said.
Once she graduated, Todd went on to take an assistant principal job working at C.C. Wright Elementary School in Wilkesboro for four years and then on to Trap Hill Elementary School as principal for four years before a job came open in Yadkin County that would allow her to work where she lived and be closer to her children during the day.
As assistant superintendent, Todd brought the county’s cafeteria program out of debt and developed it to a profitable program. Todd said that after working under two superintendents she decided that her job couldn’t be much easier than that of her superiors and applied to be superintendent. She was hired in 1998 and stayed with the school system for nine years before retiring in 2007.
Todd said her proudest moments as superintendent were seeing the formation of Yadkin Success Academy, being on staff when the middle schools were finally approved, seeing the Yadkin Early College come to fruition and being a part of the building of a science wing at Forbush High School.
“Yadkin County Schools are good schools,” Todd said. “They key to the reason they’re good schools are you have good kids, you have good parents and you have good teachers and when you have those three things it’s going to be a good place to be.”
Outside of her career as a teacher and administrator Todd has managed to raise two sons with her husband and create a scholarship through health and human services for students seeking a degree in preschool education. The preference for the scholarship goes to students in Wilkes and Yadkin Counties first.
Since retiring in 2007 Todd has stayed busy teaching working with Appalachian State University teaching students and most recently working with Gardner-Webb University teaching students. She also sits on the UNCG Advisory Board for the School of Education.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.