LUMBERTON — James Goins says all he ever wanted to do with his life was to be a teacher.
The St. Pauls High School Spanish teacher and new 2016-17 Teacher of the Year was so committed to his profession that during his first year of teaching, he walked four miles to his home after school. At the time Goins did not have a car, so he took a cab to work and walked home in the afternoon from Terry Sanford.
“I was working at IHOP after graduation. It wasn’t till three weeks into the school year when Terry Sanford High called for an interview. I came in lateral entry. I had to pass lateral entry exams and become certified to teach Spanish AP classes,” Goins said.
Last week, the Gastonia native saw his hard work pay off. Goins was named Teacher of the Year for St. Pauls High School. Then to a standing ovation, he was named the district Teacher of the Year for the Public Schools of Robeson County.
As his name was called, Goins covered his face as his eyes filled with tears.
“I was trying not to breakdown. This is the ultimate validation that everything I have been working on the past 10 years is paying off. I know I am on the right career path,” Goins said.
Goins moved to Fayetteville after graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A year later he applied to St. Pauls High, received the job and bought a car to drive to work.
Each year, the Public Schools of Robeson County names a Teacher of the Year at each school and a Principal of the Year. Teachers at all 42 schools are asked to submit a portfolio. A panel of judges, as well as the previous Teacher of the Year, rates each portfolio. The top teacher is selected from the top five portfolios and interview. The Principal of the Year is chosen by a vote from all the district school principals.
The new Principal of the Year for the 2016-17 school year is Dr. Jill Hathaway, who is principal at St. Pauls Elementary. While James is a new educator, Dr. Hathaway has 28 years with the district.
“To receive this honor is one of those achievements and one of those moments that you will always cherish. You never forget it and it makes you feel so special. It is humbling because you know you could not have received it without the support of so many people,” Hathaway said.
As a part of the win, both James Goins and Dr. Hathaway will have a chance to travel with World View to a selected country to visit schools from other parts of the globe. Goins also received a $250 check from Horace Mann Insurance and will participate in the regional Teacher of the Year Program.
“I love the fact that I can make a difference, not just in terms of teaching Spanish, but also life skills and to prepare students for college or whatever their life plan is after high school,” Goins. said
Tasha Oxendine is a public information officer for the Public Schools of Robeson County.