Helping Students Find Success Web Director | June 11, 2019

When Katherine Wood ’14 was a student, she was successful at Thomas College in part because of the people she had surrounding her – professors, staff, and classmates. She felt empowered by their support and still has relationships with them to this day.

Now, she’s giving back in her role as JMG Specialist at Lawrence High School – helping her students find success at school and in life.

“I love building relationships with students. Even though I work mostly in a classroom setting, JMG focuses a lot on building relationships and being a mentor to my students. We get to talk more about real life topics and scenarios. They come to me a lot for advice on things from job applications to home life situations; every day is different.”

As JMG Specialist at Lawrence High School, Katherine works with 9th-12th grade students, providing them with workforce development, community service, leadership, and civic awareness opportunities. She also builds relationships with businesses, educational institutes, and community members to help connect students with opportunities.

As a Thomas College student, Katherine majored in psychology and minored in education. She was a Peer Mentor for three years; was in the first group of the EDGE program in 2010; and, was an EDGE tutor for the next few summers afterwards.

“I believe the EDGE program was a big part of starting my success at Thomas. Being on campus before school started, meeting friends, and making connections with faculty and staff was a huge jumpstart in feeling comfortable and ready for starting my college career,” said Katherine. “I met my best friend the first day of EDGE. We still talk about how much we owe to the EDGE program and how different things would have been without it.”

Before Katherine came to Thomas, she lived in New Jersey until she was 10. She then lived in Canaan, Maine, for a while until moving to the next town over, Skowhegan, for the rest of high school.

“Life growing up was difficult at times. I was the oldest of five and had a lot of responsibility to help out,” she said. “Things were tight, so I knew paying for college was all on me and depended on my getting good grades and applying for scholarships.”

Growing up, Katherine always thought she wanted to be a teacher. In college, she changed her majors a lot – from criminal justice to forensic psychology to psychology, with a minor in education.

“I never thought my path would lead me to be a JMG specialist, but I’m so thankful it did,” she said. “I love that I have a job that I enjoy going to every day and enjoy working with my students.” 

At Thomas, one of those supportive professors who made an impact on Katherine was Cindy Lepley.

“Her classes were always so informative, and she always gave real-life examples. I loved her handouts and still have many that I use. Without her, I wouldn’t have the compassion and understanding of childhood development, psychology in general, and of course the brain,” said Katherine. “She made such an impact on my life. From her supportive pep talks, her funny stories and way of telling them, to marrying my husband and me. She was a very influential person, and I hope to be at least half the positive role model to my students as she was for me.” Katherine says although she had a special connection with Cindy, the whole Thomas community is supportive and cares for each of its students.

“I owe all my success to Thomas. I don’t think I would be as successful if I had gone somewhere else. Thomas focuses so much on supporting students and helping them be successful,” said Katherine. “Whenever I see a faculty member in the store or when I come back for a JMG meeting, I am always greeted with a hug. Nothing beats the Thomas family.”