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Teach a Man to Fish
and He Will Never Go Hungry
NetDay Profile
Jordan Goins, Superintendent of West Bolivar School District

Rosedale, Mississippi -- On June 30, 2002, Jordan Goins retired as Superintendent of the West Bolivar School District in Rosedale, Mississippi leaving behind a legacy of leadership and high expectations. More than 15 years ago, a phone call thrust Goins into the position of superintendent when his predecessor suffered a heart attack and the school board needed someone to step in.

During his tenure, he revitalized the flagging school district and brought community and corporate support to the tiny region. He launched a technology campaign with national corporate partners and support from NetDay. Through every transition, Goins inspired creative solutions, hard work, and risk taking. He motivated teachers, parents, students, and community members with his vision that every child in the West Bolivar School District should have opportunity and a good education.

Community Leadership
"I think he truly made a difference in our community and brought pride back to our schools," said Judy Cutts, Federal Programs Director and Curriculum Coordinator. "He brought a lot of support that we would not have had if he had not put in the hours and dedication that people could see."

A district veteran of 24 years, Cutts and Goins dispute which one of them had the first computer in the district. They were both teachers at the time and saw computing as an interesting tool for learning. During his tenure as superintendent, Cutts was the principal of West Bolivar Elementary School.

West Bolivar School District is comprised of an elementary, middle and high school located in the Mississippi Delta area, serving 1390 students in 2002. When Goins took the helm he faced declining enrollment and tough decisions. In order to offer the best education to all students, the district had to close schools and consolidate resources.

"Sometimes a school is a stabilizing force for a community and communities hate to lose neighborhood schools," said Goins. "We had to be honest, open, and truthful with all of the stakeholders for why it had to be done. If you manage to get through it, if it works, that community becomes your biggest supporter."

Sustainable Momentum
Goins' ability to create a vision, build consensus, and achieve success made his district a perfect match for the NetDay Teaching, Learning and Technology Initiative. NetDay was looking for an opportunity to make an impact through a model technology program in a rural, impoverished area.

"We were certainly rural and poor," said Goins. "They wanted to see the possibilities, see what kind of indicators they could find to suggest that if we partnered, the district could sustain the project."

The district had strong community commitment and a partnership with Mississippi Valley State University. NetDay brought national corporate involvement from 3M, Marconi and Apple. These companies served as anchors to raise awareness in the county and bring more local businesses and resources into the school district.

According to Audrey Pearson, Project Coordinator for NetDay: "Mr. Goins was truly great to work with. He was always available to talk about programmatic issues with me even if I was unannounced. He was a leader who listened and counseled. I truly felt he was a mentor."
According to District Technology Coordinator Arthur Holmes: "Our greatest local resource is the people. You have to get good people who don't mind working after hours to get the job done. We are not pay day people, we do what it takes."

A Vision for the Future
Both Cutts and Holmes describe Goins as the type of leader who motivated by example. He created a vision and articulated it to staff, parents, community, and businesses.

According to Cutts: "He was not pushing, but pulling groups together. He let you decide and be a part of the decision." He often visited classrooms and asked students to tell him what they were learning and how they were using computers. He formed committees and met with small groups of teachers to listen to their ideas and determine how he could help them succeed to support students.

"I knew what he expected me to do," said Holmes. "It's a joke in the district, he was tight with the dollar. He wanted us to tap all of the other resources first before we came to him. We knew that if you wanted to spend some money, you had to show that you had exhausted all other options and show that it would help improve test scores and the lives of the boys and girls."

Vision Becomes Legacy
It will be a few years before the district has enough longitudinal data to point to rising test scores, but the climate in the schools and classroom has changed. A lot has changed since Goins articulated the technology vision for the district. Students now have access to technology and teachers have come to rely on it.

"They are entrenched to a point of no return," says Goins, "the way instruction is delivered and reports are given, the way students prepare and the skills they have. People are more comfortable with technology and more dependent on it. It has to be available, and they will make sure it continues. The parents, students, and board will insist that it is."
Lifetime Educator

Although Goins has retired, he plans to remain active in the community and the district. He will offer his assistance and knowledge on a volunteer basis. That is, when he is not busy fishing.

"I have to reinstall all of my fishing tackle," said Goins when asked about his plans. "My boat is just sort of been there. The supplies are all spread out. After that there is yard work, exercise and visiting grandchildren and family."