Noel Turlington ’18
Woodberry is a community in every meaning of the word. We have our own post office, farm, and stores: the fir tree and student store. Students, teachers, and staff work together keeping the Woodberry clock ticking. Each part makes Woodberry what it is, and if one is taken away the school struggles to efficiently tick. The Woodberry school staff is a vital part of our community, and sometimes we fail to recognize how important they are. I recently had the opportunity to sit down and interview James T. Minor, longtime Woodberry employee, and hear his perspectives on working at the Forest.
Mr. James is the second member in his family to work at Woodberry; his mother Hester Minor being the first, working from 1969 through the late 1980s. Mr. James came to Woodberry straight out of high school, and has been working here a little over forty years. Mr. James said “I’d never been to the place before, but I got the job and fell in love with it.” Mr. James has had many different jobs throughout his tenure at Woodberry, ranging from kitchen staff with Mr. Firman, The Fir Tree and Mr. Albert, to his current role in the housekeeping department. An average day starts in Kenan Hall at 6:00AM and will last until 2:30PM, at which point he may work part time in the kitchen from 4-8:00PM.
Mr. James has seen many changes over his time, ranging from his colleagues to the buildings on campus. I asked Mr. James who has been his favorite Headmaster since working at Woodberry. He quickly replied Mr. Emmitt Wright, Woodberry headmaster from 1974-1991. “I still go and see him once a week at the nursing home in Orange. We got real close.”
Mr. James loves spending his days around the teachers and students, but something he really enjoys is seeing the sons of past Woodberry alums. James says he is always happy when a Dad comes up and speaks to him, remembering James from their time as a student at Woodberry. “It means a lot when they come back and make sure to say hello to me.”
Woodberry has an exceptional staff which help make it the great school it is. We are lucky to have Mr. James, and others like him. They help keep the Woodberry clock ticking.