Get to Know Joy Wood, the Roberts Academy Head of School

Joy Wood, the head of school at Roberts Academy at Mercer University, is an experienced educator and administrator with more than 40 years in education under her belt.

But you might not know her favorite books, her hobbies, and why she loves working with dyslexic students.

So today, take some time to get know Joy Wood!

A photo of Joy Wood, the head of school at Roberts Academy at Mercer University.

Text: Get to know Roberts Academy's Head of School, Joy Wood

About Joy Wood

Joy Wood is a dynamic and seasoned educator in the independent school sector, boasting two decades of classroom experience and an additional 25 years in various administrative roles. In 2023, she brought her expertise to Roberts Academy, following an impactful eight-year tenure as the head of GRACEPOINT School in Marietta, Georgia.

Prior to this, Joy held the position of elementary principal at the prestigious Wesleyan School in Atlanta and served as both the director of curriculum and a fourth-grade teacher at Christ the King Catholic School, also in Atlanta.

Her academic credentials include a Master of Arts in Education from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Millsaps College in Mississippi.

A Q&A With Joy Wood

Q: Why did you decide to make a career out of education?

A: One of my middle school teachers was a very positive influence in my life, and I began to consider teaching at a young age. I went to college as a drama major and after my freshman year decided I did not want to “do” drama full-time.

One of my college professors offered great guidance toward a field in education. I have never regretted my career decision.

What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your job?

Everything! When children and their families come to a school like Roberts Academy, they are in a vulnerable place because of the struggles they have experienced in a general education classroom.

But when these children move into a school environment that is uniquely suited to their learning needs, the transformation is almost immediate. They feel safe, understood and best of all – they start to experience success again.

It is really quite magical. We teach them how they need to learn, and that makes perfect sense. The child now LOVES coming to school because they are being taught the way they learn.

Also, my heart leaps with joy when I witness a teacher who is passionate and excited about teaching – no matter the circumstances. I am grateful for compassionate teachers who have a growth mindset, collaborate, respect each other, and truly understand the Roberts Academy mission; they inspire me and give me strength.

Why did you go into dyslexia education?

Dyslexia education became fascinating to me during the mid-90’s. When I was teaching 4th grade, I had students who would transition back to my classroom after attending The Schenck School for dyslexia remediation in grades 2 and 3.

These particular students were self-motivated, self-confident, and out-of-the-box thinkers who were always excited to learn using the strategies they were taught at Schenck.

Through this I began to observe at Schenck and learn more about the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching students with dyslexia.

What are a few of your favorite children’s books?

This is too hard! If I had to narrow it down to just a few, my picks would be:

  1. The Angel in Red High Tops, by Anne Parker and Helen Cleveland
  2. The Big Golden Book of Poetry
  3. The Library Dragon, by Carmen Agra Deedy
  4. Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson
  5. How Full is Your Bucket, by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer
  6. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

At Roberts, we say dyslexia is a superpower. What is your superpower?

Another hard one!

I think my superpower is my ability to demonstrate gratitude and grace. I have kept a gratitude journal for many years, and it brings everything into perspective for me.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

When my husband and I vacation with our children and their future spouses. We love renting a house on the beach or in the mountains for at least a week. When everyone is away from their jobs and enjoying time with each other it is a true gift and it is not to be taken for granted.

When I vacation with my husband, Jim, we love to visit New York City! We both enjoy Broadway (a LOT!), Central Park, the restaurants, and the feel of the busy city! We go whenever we can – we have spent many birthdays and anniversaries in NYC.

Roberts Academy at Mercer Unversity's Head of School Joy Wood with her husband, Jim, in New York City

Do you have any hobbies?

My husband and I enjoy gardening, landscaping and entertaining. Gardening is fun, therapeutic, creative, and a chance to be outside, not to mention, I love flowers and plants. My grandmother and my mom were both avid gardeners and I have plants in my yard that began with some of their seedlings. That is very special to me.

Roberts Academy at Mercer. University's head of school Joy Wood's garden in Atlanta, Georgia

As far as entertaining goes, my husband is an excellent and creative chef! I enjoy decorating and we both treasure the friendships we have with other couples and individuals. We have been in the same “supper club” group for more than 25 years. Good friends are indeed a blessing.

Roberts Academy at Mercer University's head of school, Joy Wood, with her supper club in Atlanta, Georgia

What do you love about the Middle Georgia community?

There is so much energy and passion about education in this community and the excitement of having the Mercer University partnership is contagious. I am extremely excited to build relationships in Middle Georgia as I get to know our Roberts Academy families.

At Roberts, we want to help build a community within the Macon area where families who have children with dyslexia can find support, fellowship, and information. This holds true for educators in the area as well, because we want to support and provide them with learning opportunities to further their knowledge of dyslexia.

What do you wish more people knew about dyslexic kids?

There is a painful myth that students with dyslexia struggle to read because they are not “smart enough” or they are not “trying hard enough.”

This is simply not true – the children are not the problem; something in their learning environment needs to be fixed. Children with dyslexia are equally capable as their peers, but they learn best with instruction that is individualized, explicit, sequential, and multi-sensory.

It’s the end of the first day at Roberts. How do you hope our students feel as they leave the building?

We will end the school day together as we recognize and celebrate the positive brain explosions, aha moments, thinking outside the box moments, all moments that took place during class on that day.

It is true JOY to witness the dyslexic student discovering their own capabilities and potential for success. It is especially important that our students complete their school day on a positive note and hopefully have a huge smile on their faces and cannot wait to return for Day 2!

About Roberts Academy at Mercer University

Roberts Academy at Mercer University is Georgia’s only transitional school for dyslexic 2nd-5th graders outside of Metro Atlanta. Currently under construction and scheduled to open this summer, the Academy is located two blocks from Mercer’s campus at 1027 Linden Avenue in Macon.

We are currently accepting applications for the 2024-25 academic year. Apply here.

    Learn More

    Have additional questions or inquiries?
    Contact us today to learn more about Roberts Academy.
    © 2023 Roberts Academy at Mercer University. All rights reserved.

    Roberts Academy is now accepting applications for enrollment. Classes will begin in August 2024.