MIDWAY — With the summer break winding down, Principal John Goode is preparing to having the hallways and classrooms of Midway Middle School filled with students and teachers.
As the head of the school, it’s a big responsibility that comes with long hours. He was recognized for his leadership by his peers in Sampson County Schools (SCS) by being named Principal of the Year for 2015-2016.
When the announcement was made during a SCS administrative retreat, Goode was shocked. Next, he looked around the room and thought about how any administrators in the district could be principal of the year. The humbled administrator felt there were others who were more deserving.
“We have a tremendous group of talented professionals in Sampson County Schools, leading our schools,” Goode said.
He will represent the district in the Southeast region principal of the year competition, which includes submitting an essay and other information for the process.
Goode became assistant principal at Midway Middle School in 2007 and later became principal in 2011. Previously, he taught social studies at Midway High School from 2002 through 2007. He earned a degree in history from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and a master’s in school administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Before Goode came to SCS, he worked at several historic sites in North Carolina. He was the manager at Bentonville Battlefield, near the town of Four Oaks, and served the National Park Service as a park ranger at the Moores Creek National Battlefield. A lot of his work at the sites involved school groups and education — something Goode said he should have done sooner.
“It just seemed like a natural progression,” Goode said. “I wanted to do more with kids.”
After searching for a job in the education field and in the classroom, an opportunity with Sampson County School became available in the early 2000s.
“What I enjoyed most about being a teacher was seeing a student when their interest was sparked … seeing that moment of discovery when they caught onto something,” Goode said.
But as school administrator, the work is a little different and includes helping on different levels. It’s different every day in administration.
“The teachers are there on the front lines,” Goode said. “I miss that to a certain degree, but there is never a dull moment in administration.”
Goode said the experiences in the classroom helped with his current position. He knows what teachers face everyday.
“You have your teacher’s back and it’s important for them to know that you stand behind them,” Goode said.
He noted that he tries to give them support by helping with policies or being a voice when it comes to salaries and payroll issues with lawmakers. He noted how teacher’s salaries have been raised, but believes very little has been done for the mid-level or veteran teachers. Goode also mentioned cuts in benefits, which may make hiring difficult and voucher systems for students who like to attend private schools.
“It’s basically like taking money off every student’s desk and taking it away from them,” he said. “What we do on a daily basis is challenging enough. But the recent actions of the General Assembly make it more difficult.”
On a daily basis, Goode said one of the challenges is trying to tailor a sound education for every student who walks though the doors of Midway Middle.
“Every child is different and they learn differently,” he said. “Our job is to meet them where they are when they come in this building and give them what they need. When you have almost 700 kids in the building, that’s a challenge. That’s a tall order.”
He enjoys being a principal, but Goode also spends time teaching classes at the college and university level. It allows to get back in the classroom and keep up with how it feels to be a teacher.
Goode was born in Atlanta but grew up in Goldsboro and graduated from High School in Lumberton. He is married to wife Amy. Together they have a daughter Katie Grace, a sophomore at Midway High School.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy said Goode is a leader among leaders and is very deserving of the honor.
“He demonstrates every ingredient of what it takes to be selected as Sampson County Schools Principal of the Year,” Bracy said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.