Dr. JoAnne Woodard is the founder and executive director of Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts & Education, a free, K-8 public charter school established in 1997 in Wilson, North Carolina. She is the driving force behind the school’s unique arts-based curriculum, its culturally-diverse faculty and student body, and its study abroad program which sends students to places like China, India, Africa and Australia.
A native of Wilson, Dr. Woodard received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bennett College in 1969 and a masters and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in 1975. She began her career in New York City at Children’s Television Workshop (producers of “Sesame Street”) and then went on to hold several teaching positions at Kean College and Rutgers University.
Serving briefly as program director at the City of Newark’s Youth Services division, Dr. Woodard moved to California for several years, returning to Wilson in 1986, where she landed a position as staff psychologist for NOVA Group Homes and the O’Berry Center in Goldsboro, N.C. She would go on to chair the psychology department at Barton College.
However, after spending years observing the poor educational condition of African-American children in the Wilson County school system, Woodard took action and in 1989 founded the Youth Enrichment Program (YEP), an eight-week summer camp based out of three neighboring churches. The first day of the camp drew over 420 children, due largely to the fact that YEP filled a huge void in small, rural Wilson which offered very little for youth to do in the summer. The program’s primary appeal was the creativity and spunk of its feisty, well-traveled instructor, Mrs. Sallie Baldwin Howard, who taught the campers African history, pride and a thirst for knowledge.
YEP prospered for eight summers until a charter law was passed in N.C. permitting non-profit organizations to establish public schools. Thus, Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts & Education was born. The school currently serves over 1000 students in grades K-8 and will expand to add the SBH High School of Biotechnology and the Fine Arts in 2020. Its mission continues to be to ensure that every child – privileged or underprivileged – gets the kind of education that will allow them to become more than they ever thought they would be.
Dr. Woodard is a licensed practicing psychologist in the state of North Carolina and an Advanced Trainer for the Nurtured Heart Approach to Discipline. She’s delivered numerous keynote speeches at various conferences and events, including the Wilson County chapter of the NAACP’s “Freedom Fund Banquet.”
The youngest of three siblings, Dr. Woodard has three children and four grandchildren.