The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Midway will be taking a break over the summer
After reminiscing with fond memories, Class of 2024 graduates in Rockefeller Chapel

A warm Woods welcome

Principal Woods brings dedication to new community
Carter Chang
U-High’s new principal Martin Woods gestures to the crowd of students at the back to school assembly. Mr. Woods is eager to get to know students and embrace the Lab community’s spirit and closeness.

Editor’s note: This story has been revised to correct the sport and location from the first paragraph. It was not a soccer game at Wolcott College Prep.

A student runs along the court at a basketball game at a school in the Noble School Network under the glaring lights in front of a cheering crowd. In the midst of the game, he turns his head to the audience and sees his teacher, Martin Woods, cheering in the stands, and he smiles.

When he was a teacher, Mr. Woods wasn’t just there for sports games. From musicals to dance recitals to cheer competitions, Mr. Woods was always present, supporting his students from within the classroom and cheering them on the outside of it, too.

That is at the core of who he is as a leader and administrator: an educator who cares deeply for his students and encourages them to pursue what they love. Throughout the first few weeks of this school year, Mr. Woods has devoted himself to learning about Lab’s community, and as U-High’s new principal, he is committed to fostering a safe, supportive learning environment that promotes balance and belonging.

At Lab, Mr. Woods would like to emphasize the importance of academic-life balance, which he first experienced as a high schooler himself while attending a Chicago institution similar to Lab in its emphasis on academic rigor. His parents’ support in his extracurriculars, from singing to theater to track, he said, shaped his approach to education. These experiences instilled the value of curiosity and personal development in schools.

According to Mr. Woods, a key part of academic-life balance consists of pursuing one’s passions and making the most out of all Lab offers.

“I want to impress upon students the value of taking advantage of everything Lab provides, from Hyde Park to the athletic program here to your clubs and to leadership opportunities,” Mr. Woods said. “Lab is really rich with opportunity, and as a community, we can continue to access that.”

Reinforcing a sense of belonging also remains at the heart of Mr. Woods’ goals for Lab. Mr. Woods wants to continue the work to ensure Lab embodies the “beloved community,” a term coined by Martin Luther King Jr. that ensures every individual shares compassion and care for one another to boost a sense of belonging.

In order to create that welcoming community, Mr. Woods believes cultural humility — self-reflection and work to address one’s own biases — is a key avenue to achieve safe and welcoming spaces throughout the school.

“It takes humility to commit to learning about other people and honoring differences, and you have to work at that. We must have awareness that we carry with us as we move in every space. So it’s in our interactions at lunch, on the soccer field, and in the classrooms,” Mr. Woods said. “It’s really those micro-interactions that we have throughout the day that can be small touch points for learning about other people and having people learn more about us. We have to look at every interaction as a learning opportunity and as a way to make a positive impact on our community.”

Mr. Woods believes supporting students’ mental health is another necessary way to achieve the “beloved community.”

“My job is really making sure all members of the community care enough to pay attention to one another and have those necessary conversations,” Mr. Woods said. “I think that putting the emphasis on the academic-life balance will also create a less stressful experience for students.That balance allows students to take breaks and engage in activities that bring them joy, which certainly affects their mental and emotional well-being.”

Currently, one of Mr. Woods’ main goals is to gain a better understanding of the Lab community, and appreciate the work that has been done by students, faculty and administrators  to live up to Lab’s mission. To do this, Mr. Woods has been getting to know the student body, throughout the beginning of school, by organizing advisory visits in the upcoming weeks and maintaining an open door policy, which he encourages students to utilize.

“Those are the experiences that remind me of why education chose me and why I chose education, because it is truly the impact that we make on our students that brings me the greatest joy,” Mr. Woods said.

At Lab’s upcoming games, Mr. Woods will show his spirit under the blazing lights of Jackman Field. He will stand on the bleachers cheering on a new team, as the Lab community unites to celebrate the students, start of the year and, importantly, Maroon pride.

“I’m just really having an amazing time getting acclimated to this institution that we all love and that the world celebrates,” Mr. Woods said, smiling warmly. “It’s been a pleasure getting to know the students, the faculty, the administration, and I’ve just had the best time falling in love with Lab.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Lipson
Mia Lipson, News Editor
Mia Lipson is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as news editor. She began journalism in the 2021-22 school year as a ninth grader and previously served as an assistant editor. Her favorite story she has written is a profile on retiring P.E. teacher Terri Greene. Outside of journalism, she enjoys running, writing and reading any history book she can find. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, staff editorial: superior 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Superior, editorial writing
Carter Chang
Carter Chang, Photographer
Carter Chang is a member of the Class of 2024 and serves as a photojournalism editor-in-chief. He joined the photo staff in the 2021-22 school year as a sophomore and returned as a senior. His favorite part of photojournalism is being able to capture the raw emotions expressed by people in school life photography. Outside of photojournalism, Carter enjoys all things health and fitness related. His favorite sport to shoot is tennis.  Awards: 2023 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Academic photo, certificate of merit, "Burning up"

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