MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 7, 2013

The confidence builder

OSB instructor shows kids all they can do

You might have seen Gina Woods walking along East Side Boulevard or a neighborhood street.

She’s usually walking with an Oklahoma School for the Blind student, showing the student how to get around town.

Woods, 52, has worked for OSB since 1997.

“I teach kids who are blind or visually impaired how to use their other senses to figure out where they are,” she said. “East Side Boulevard is a place where I teach beginners. I teach them to listen for traffic. They listen for traffic beside them so they can cross when the traffic is going to cross.”

Woods has long been interested in helping people with impaired vision or other disabilities. She traces it to her junior high years, when she was a counselor at a camp for kids and adults with developmental disabilities.

“For me, it was a big confidence-raiser,” she said. “I discovered I enjoyed the campers. They enjoyed life day by day, as it came.”

She sought a degree in social work at the University of California at Sacramento.

Woods said she wanted to work in rehabilitation.

“I like to work one-on-one with people, see measurable progress,” she said. “And you get to work outside. The world is your classroom.”

She said her interest in working with blind people was piqued when she worked as a note-taker for a blind person.

“She invited me in for tea,” Woods said. “She had a gas stove and I thought ‘Oh, she can do this.’”

Now Woods seeks to show blind and vision impaired people what they can do.

She first worked at the Arkansas Enterprise for the Blind before coming to OSB in 1997.

Meet Gina Woods

AGE: 52.

HOMETOWN: Muskogee, born in Sacramento, Calif.

CAREER: Orientation and mobility instructor, Oklahoma School for the Blind.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in social work, California State University in Sacramento, 1987; master’s degree from University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 1989.

FAMILY: Sister, Angela Ezekiel; brother, Michael Woods; two dogs, Hershel and Sasha.

CHURCH: Fellowship Congregational Church.

HOBBIES: Reading, hiking, kayaking.

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