Let’s Talk Clovis: Harold L. Woods, Jefferson Elementary Legend

Harold retired from the Clovis Unified School District in 2001 as the longest serving teacher in the district after teaching forty-six years at Jefferson Elementary School. He immediately began teaching in their ASES program that offers after school education and enrichment activities.

He began teaching (1955) at Jefferson Elementary prior to the 1960 unification of the School District. Jefferson was established in 1884 and has remained at the original location at the northwest corner of Shaw and Fowler. Their motto, “Try hard and never quit” is documented by Harold’s life.  

The Harold L. Woods Elementary School (700 Teague/Clovis Ave) was named in his honor in 2005. 

Their motto: “Respect yourself, each other and this place in which we learn”. The new student body was created from Garfield and Century Elementary students. The trauma of leaving their schools was mitigated by the students voting for their school colors (silver, navy blue and Columbia blue) and their mascot (Wolverines).

The maternal great grandparents of Harold Woods, Thomas Cunningham (1834-1897) and his wife America (1835-1890), arrived in this area in the mid 1880’s. Their grandsons, Shorty and Tom Cunningham established a popular packing station at Marshall Station that is located at the south end of Auberry Valley.

Harold’s father, Joe Woods was the youngest of seven siblings. The family arrived in Clovis in the early 1900’s. Joe and his wife Della raised their family of seven (six graduated from Clovis High) on a dairy farm/grape vineyard on the southwest corner of Herndon and DeWitt. Harold remembers he and his siblings would milk the cows by hand. Their neighbors were the Crowell and Weldon families who farmed on the north side of Herndon.

His father augmented the family income by working for twelve years at the Nevins grocery store. His cousin Charley Nevins owned the store that was located at the southeast corner of Sunnyside and Tollhouse Road.

Joe Woods purchased the historic neighborhood Croker Grocery store on Sixth Street (Bullard) near DeWitt in 1956. He purchased homes on both sides of the store in addition to a family home on Oxford.

Harold graduated from Clovis High School in 1951. He worked at Phil Garver’s garage (southwest corner of Clovis and Third Street) as a “gofer” during high school and would also work during the summer fruit harvest. He graduated from Fresno State College in 1955 and received their Master Teacher Award. He became a faculty member and supervised educational majors for five years.

During his teaching career he received many awards and honors for his dedication and commitment to children: the Crystal Award, employee recognition (three times) and the Gamma Psi Master Teacher by CSU, Fresno. The Jefferson library media center was named in his honor.

An article published in the Fresno Bee (May 30, 2001) quoted Jon Steinmetz (student teacher that Woods was tutoring): “There’s nothing about teaching that he doesn’t know. Woods taught him traditional and new teaching styles in everything from academics to classroom management.”

Steinmetz continued: “He has taken the good from the old and takes the good from the new. That’s why he’s such a great teacher. He’s able to change and be flexible when he needs to be. He’s got a knack for teaching. He’s a natural.”

Harold’s teaching at ASES extends his dedicated career to an amazing fifty-nine consecutive years. He still experiences the joy of teaching. He continues to require high academic standards that are tempered with discipline and fairness from his students.

The Woods family is a part of our rich heritage.

Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.