Andy Woods

"I would love to combat the stigma that junior college isn’t
a worthy option for the first two years of college."

Andy Woods

Lifelong Champaign resident Andy Woods attended Champaign Unit 4 schools throughout his elementary, middle school, and high school years. At each level, Woods said he "had a very positive learning and social experience."

The same can be said for Woods at Parkland College, where he played basketball at and graduated from.

"I remember how supportive  and comfortable I felt with the staff and professors," Woods said of Parkland. "It wasn’t an intimidating experience like a big college campus might feel."

For close to 30 years, Woods has worked as a history teacher at Centennial High School in Champaign, where he graduated from in 1990. Here's more from the former Centennial Charger and Parkland Cobra alumnus.

What was it like playing basketball at your hometown community college — Parkland College in Champaign — and what did you get out of the experience from an athletic and academic standpoint?

It ensured a very smooth transition from high school to college. The junior college experience felt like a very supportive academic experience. Smaller class sizes and more one-on-one teacher-student interaction was valuable. Also, the opportunity to continue my athletic interest, basketball, beyond the high school level allowed me to further pursue that sport.

How has attending a community college influenced your outlook on education and life?

Andy Woods and Jenna Woods

Coincidentally, I just received an email from a parent of a current student in my Sociology class. This parent was aware that my own daughter, Jenna (at right in photo with her father), had similar misgivings about attending a junior college fresh out of high school. There is certainly this stigma among high school seniors and peers that you must go to a big university to be worthy of a college education, as if a junior college education isn’t worthy. Spending 10 times less money for the same college class credit makes a lot of sense to me. It also made sense to my daughter once she got beyond the “What will my friends and peers think if I go to a junior college instead of a university?” mentality. My daughter and I are meeting this parent and student for lunch next weekend to comfort this student by sharing Jenna’s own similar concernsI would love to combat the stigma that junior college isn’t a worthy option for the first two years of college.

How do you view community colleges as being institutions that provide equitable opportunities for students who are pursuing a postsecondary education?

It’s a no-brainer! A quality education and experience at one-tenth of the price, give or take, speaks for itself.  The only regrets I hear is that you may not get the same “college experience” as a bigger college or university. However, like my daughter said,  the final two years at a four-year university was enough for a so-called “college experience.”

How did your learning and overall experience at a community college lead to your further course of study and current career?

Andy Wood working out

I was able to ensure what I wanted to do before spending more and more tuition money searching. My original interest was in radio and TV, but I learned really quickly that I wanted nothing to do with that major. My experience with basketball and in-class subjects steered me toward a life of coaching and teaching at the high school level. I am currently in my 28th year of teaching at the high school level.

Tell us something fun about yourself.

I am nonstop! I am a full-time teacher and carry two side jobs. I work three weekly shifts at the YMCA and run my own 15-week lawn route. I also work out everyday.