by Julie Liebman
LBPSB’s Jeff Wood Kicks Off his 42nd Year!
LBPSB’s Assistant Director of Equipment Services is usually in the office around 5:30 a.m. “Our school board is a really big network of buildings and my phone usually starts ringing early in the morning. I like to be set-up at my desk to resolve any early morning issues,” says Jeff.
His career in education started off at the former Lakeshore School Board when he was hired as caretaker. From there, he moved to the maintenance department and worked with the tradesmen. After about twenty years, he was offered a management position.
“At the time, I was president of the union that represented caretakers and maintenance employees and I was part of the FTQ general council which represented 500 000 employees across the province. I was also vice-president of our local union that represented caretakers in English school boards, so making a move to management was really unexpected.”
“Essentially,” he says, “My involvement in the union level opened up the door to my management position,” explains Jeff. Because of his strong knowledge of the sector both on and off the field, he was recruited to lead Equipment Services, which now boasts a whopping 240 employees across the school board!
Today, he handles everything related to HR for caretakers and tradesmen. “I handle a lot of the staffing, the on-call list, and payroll for my sector because they have very unique profiles and needs,” says Jeff. He deals with everyone from teachers, integration aids, managers, and school principals.
With such a long career journey, almost everyone at LBPSB knows Jeff. And more than ever, his work is appreciated by many colleagues.
“You don’t work at the same place for 42 years if you don’t fundamentally enjoy what you’re doing and appreciate the relationships you’ve nurtured. Jeff is one of the most decent and honest people I have worked with throughout my entire career. I can’t think of higher praise,” says Tom Rhymes, LBPSB Assistant director general.
Carol Heffernan also has warm words for her colleague. “Jeff is a dedicated, hardworking, and knowledgeable professional. He genuinely cares about students and staff and strives to make the school and centre environment a better place to work.”
His team has extensive expertise in equipment services, human resources, major renovations, and more. “We get urgent requests for renovations and expansions. I know that this type of work can sometimes be noisy and disruptive in a school setting, but we really do our best to get the most done during he summer months. Some of the renovations we handle are really major and we know the end result is going to be awesome, so we really appreciate the staff’s patience when we need to start demolishing a cement wall.”
When the pandemic arrived in 2020, Jeff and his team stepped up to manage and distribute all of the PPE to schools and installed air purifiers in naturally ventilated buildings.
From the acquisition to the distribution and inventory of materials, his team ensures the timely distribution of masks, visors, gowns, and gloves.
“Every month, we send out 900 000 masks to all of our schools and centres and recently we started distributing rapid tests and installing carbon dioxide detectors.”
When asked about what makes his job so special, Jeff says that every time he gets to build a new school or manages extensive renovations, “there’s something so special knowing that everyone is working towards something exciting that will benefit our students.”
Of course, 42 years is a spectacular career journey, and many people wonder if Jeff contemplates retiring.
“I have an incredible team, I love what I do, and I know I’m making a difference in teachers’ and students’ lives. Why would I retire?”