Position: Kindergarten Teacher / Team Leader School: Rocky Plains Elementary School
School District: Newton County Schools
City, State: Covington, Georgia
About the Nominee: Gwen Goins was nominated by a colleague, Jacqueline McMullen.
Ms. McMullen became a paraprofessional at Rocky Plains Elementary in 2014, with high expectations about what the school environment would be like. Although the climate differs from her initial expectations, the highlight of her work experience that stands out is observing Mrs. Gwen Goins. While they have no personal or extensive work relationship, Mrs. Goins is a fabulous example of one who truly understands what it means to go to work every day, positively shape and mold the minds of young children and maintain the highest degree of professionalism and selflessness at all times.
Ms. McMullen taught in the classroom next to Mrs. Goins. On several occasions throughout the day, Mrs. Goins' voice could be heard echoing through the walls as she taught her students with passion and enthusiasm. In the hallways, Ms. McMullen could see her exercising great class management and being able to discipline her students while also exuding a very loving and positive energy. Mrs. Goins has the rare ability to modify the behavior of even the most challenging student, often saying that the student “just needed a little love.” In fact, she doesn’t even allow anyone to tell her or warn her about a potentially problematic student, as she is completely devoted to operating in an unbiased way. She maintains this position with staff members as well, which is why Ms. McMullen considers Mrs. Goins the ultimate professional. She never engages in negativity and always thinks for herself, upholding that which is true over that which is popular.
Mrs. Goins does not do any of the above for attention. When first told about LifeChanger of the Year, she hesitated several times and had to be convinced to let Ms. McMullen nominate her. When told that there was a cash prize for the winner, Mrs. Goins responded by saying “That’ll be nice for the school and kids.” Ms. McMullen corrected her by letting her know that the cash prize would also be for her, and she said, “Well, you know what I’m going to use it on, so it’ll still be for the kids.”
According to Ms. McMullen, Mrs. Goins reminds her of her favorite teachers from elementary school, people who made great sacrifices and showed great love in their quest to help her be the best student and citizen she could be. She has truly been fortunate to work with and learn from her!