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What's Up Magazine

An Interview with Debbie Wood, Founder of the Chesapeake Children's Museum

Sep 26, 2012 01:00PM ● By Anonymous

Debbie, please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in 1955 in Washington, D.C. the second in a family of five children. I grew up in Silver Spring and graduated from Albert Einstein High School. College was The University of Maryland where I received Bachelors, Masters, and a PhD degrees in the fields of Early Childhood Education, Counseling and Personnel, and Human Development. In 1977, I married Roy Wood, my high-school boyfriend, and we are the parents of four children.

What is your work experience?

I taught pre-school for many years and later started my own coun- seling practice working with parents and children. I still maintain my counseling practice; write monthly articles on parent-child issues for local publications and train child care professionals in the Baltimore and D.C. areas and beyond. My museum duties include creating and leading programs and workshops for all ages and for outreach to the community.

What is your philosophy in regard to education and parenting?

Parents need support in order to do the job well and doing the job well is the best way to assure the world of good citizens. Education is a community effort. I lean toward child-centered, project-orient- ed, discovery learning. Helping children to become good learners is more important than stuffing them with information.

Why did you start the Chesapeake Children's Museum?

I led a group of families on a tour of the Capital Children's Museum in Washington, D.C. and was amazed by how much the adults as well as the children enjoyed the experience. This inspired me to make such experiences more convenient for Annapolis fami- lies especially those with the economic challenges. In 1992, I invit- ed people from the community to come forward and help; twelveChesapeake Children's Museum Founder Deborah Wood poses with an Annapolis Boys & Girls Club group. Clockwise from the left: Gina Calhoun, Charlie Santiago, Melony Maultsby, Dr. Deborah Wood, Nhijaya Nutter, Tyona Johnson, Michael Guardado, and Taylor Davis.

What is the mission statement of the Chesapeake Children's Museum?

To create an environment of discovery about oneself, the peoples, the technologies, and the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay area for all our children and for the children in all of us.

Where is the museum located and what activities are there for children and families?

The museum is located at 25 Silopanna Road in Annapolis near Maryland Hall and Bates Middle School. The building once served as a radio station and is bordered by a nature trail along the head- waters of Spa Creek. We have indoor spaces with fish tanks, turtles, and even a snake in its cage, indoor play equipment, arts and crafts and a stage area complete with dress up costumes. There is a base- ment area that is used for educational classes and performances. There are outdoor play and nature areas. The museum is a popular destination for children's birthday parties.

What successes has the museum had in its first twenty years?

Some highlights have been twenty years of planning and facilitating children's activities for huge community events such as Earth Day, Kunta Kinte Fest, and New Years in Annapolis programs. A part- nership with the Annapolis Housing Authority brought the M.E.O.W. bus to serve children who otherwise would never get to the museum. We have enabled Girl Scout Troops to use the muse- um space to complete badge requirements. We are starting our tenth year as the sponsor for Kids'n'Kaboodle, a children's fair held in June that provides entertainment, food, pony rides, and free books for children to take home. We are a partner with other orga- nizations of the Kids at Hope of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, which is working toward training adults in the philosophy that all children are capable of success—no exceptions.

Are there any future plans for the museum?

We hope to be able to fund the renovation of the building to expand the downstairs area for more performance space by and for the children. A space for cooking classes, woodworking, and other crafts is to be included. A nature observation deck is part of the plan along with an ADA conforming ramp. We would like to recre- ate a sandy beach area alongside the creek.

Do you have volunteer opportunities?

Yes, we always have a need for volunteers. Check out our website at and find out about how you can help us along with other great information about programs and events at museum.

Who or what inspires you to keep on persevering for the chil- dren and the museum?

Each child who comes through the door and especially the children in Annapolis whose families are challenged by poverty, who haven't yet been able to come.