In the small community of Manchester Vermont, where green is greener and snow is deeper for outdoor enthusiasts to romp on mountainous slopes there lives a boy buzzing around town making sure that everyone is plugged in.
Plugged into what? Pretty much everything. From church to school, from school to the local TV station Jimmy Woodard is the guy you call if you need help with your internet, your sound, your lighting, your computer, even your piano playing.
The list continues to include students and parents and teachers, and local professionals, helping them with computers and all sorts of gadgets. He helps you with the modern needs that have become essential. Those enterprises that cannot rely on the green of Manchester's gorgeous landscape or the crisp clean Vermont air to get things up and running or playing correctly. This freckled faced, blonde headed, gangly, budding thirteen year old never runs out of energy or an eye for the invisible landscape of the virtual reality in the beauty of moving sights and sounds.
It all started when he was five. He tells the story best.
"I began my technical interest in kindergarten, when I had my first computer class with Glenn Lemke, the computer teacher at the time. Then I joined chorus and told my mom that Mrs. Fran Marino was letting me run the soundboard, which was a lie at the time, but a wish at the time. Mom called her to thank her, and then my wish came true when my mom called her, because Mrs. Marino thought it would be good to have someone else do it. From there, I joined band with Mrs. Susan Schiffman, and I have played trumpet and keyboard with her, and am the main sound and light guy for the annual school Play and the winter and spring concerts."
"I assist people at home, church, school, and the community. At home, it is usually helping dad with his computer and printer, and troubleshooting any issues we may be having. At church I run the sound at special events, and I have done it at one funeral. At school, I help many teachers including Mrs. Marino and Mrs. Schiffman with their technology needs, and I am currently in the Yearbook club. In the community, I work at GNAT filming Bob Stannard's show, and I also help people with odd jobs like setting up their new computer, helping them learn how to use their computer, among other things."
Jimmy has always been interested in everything, says his mom Ruth Woodard. From a young age he constantly wanted to know how things work, taking apart toys, tools, gadgets anything and everything. Being a parent of this child brings much pride, but demands lots of energy keeping him safe as well as positively challenged.
Ruth Woodard has her own version of his phenomenal emergence as school and community young wizard of technology and serendipitous acts. She traces her recollection of these origins. "We encouraged him to be a reader from a young age; as music and math are so related, he has studied piano since kindergarten charting daily practicing over 2,500 days in a row, and trumpet since fifth grade. Jimmy's teachers had always voiced comments about his excessive levels of energy. During fifth grade, his computer teacher, Doug Patac, working with his classroom teachers, bribed Jimmy, requiring him to reign in some of his constant motion in the classroom, by offering him, during recess and before and after school, an opportunity to visit the computer lab. There he was allowed to completely take apart an old computer and put it back together, using pieces from other old computers, and making it work. This lengthy (several months) project demonstrated his ability to diagnose and solve computer problems, and resulted in his uncanny ability to solve technical problems, at times more successfully than school staff. He became the one that teachers first called to assist with technical issues."
Director of Instrumental music at Manchester Elementary Middle School Sue Schiffman chimes in about this extraordinary student. Jimmy always showed an exceptional willingness to help others and an uncanny ability to figure out any electronic or audio set-up, making him a favorite among teachers, claiming he has never been typical. His interest in technology quickly blossomed as did his volunteering to help members of the staff with quickly changing technology needs that seemed never-ending, and only understood by members of his 13 year old generation. Schiffman boasts of Jimmy's talent as keyboard player in his award-winning Manchester Elementary Middle School Jazz Band, adding that his expertise is in demand by every department in the school.
Ruth Woodard goes on to list the working professionals that have called on Jimmy including a scientist, realtor, engineer, and the crew down at the local TV station where he provides video-assist in filming. This adventure has resulted in him meeting the Governor, State Representative, authors, scientists, and other personalities being interviewed.
Mrs. Woodard says she and her husband have encouraged Jimmy to be honest in all endeavors and enjoy a quest for self-reliance. She says raising him in Southern Vermont provides a good balance for the budding boy wonder. We are fortunate that he is growing up in a small community having less crime than large cities. Everyone here knows him and we feel confident that other adults are looking out for him and his well-being. "
And while elders and others look out for Jimmy Woodard, he does a swell job of looking out for them. That is the character I first noticed about him. With a wealth of talent, his is rich in a hero's character with a desire to use his talent to help others. He is accessible, agreeable, and a breath of fresh air in the midst of what can be hectic moments for the wanna be plugged-in population.
I have been lucky enough to know and work with this incredible young man. Jimmy Woodard is certainly one of my heroes. You might wonder what his idea of a hero is.
My definition of a hero is someone willing to give me the special opportunity to do something and/or teach me how to do it. Someone who is kind. Some of my heroes are My Mom, My Dad, Susan Gabriel Bunn, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates
With a birthday coming up, I asked Jimmy if he has any advice for other adolescents during what can be turbulent years. His response is a message offering hope. Keep planting seeds. Try different things, with different people. Eventually the flower (of your career) will blossom.