In receiving the Columbus Municipal School District”s Star Catcher award Wednesday, Terrie Gooch was caught by surprise.
The physical education teacher and wellness magnet coordinator at Franklin Academy Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School was speaking to an auditorium full of students, explaining that the school recently applied for recognition by the President”s Council on Physical Fitness, when she spotted CMSD Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips.
“I was clueless; I had absolutely no idea this was coming,” she said, after receiving the award. “In fact, I was at the podium when Dr. Phillips and his team came in and I continued with my talk to the students. In the back of my mind, I wondered what he was doing here.
“When he started to talk about the Star Catcher award, I began to get a few hints,” she continued. “He started to look my way and it brought tears to my eyes. It”s truly an honor and privilege. It”s all about the children and we want them to work hard and to accomplish their goals with a positive attitude and I feel like that”s what this award defines.”
Phillips established the Star Catcher award to recognize CMSD employees who go “above and beyond their daily job” and who make “a difference in the lives of others,” CMSD officials said.
In addition to her roles as a teacher and the wellness coordinator, Gooch, who has spent countless hours at home and on weekends, tallying students” physical fitness results, also tutors third grade math students.
“She is diligent in her efforts to instill good sportsmanship, pride and confidence in not only the students, but the teachers as well,” Franklin Principal Patricia Overstreet said of Gooch. “She can often be seen teaching students how to shake an adult”s hand, look them in the eye (and) introduce themselves. These are life lessons that will help in the development of a successful adult.”
Gooch also was instrumental in securing a $30,000 Project Fit grant for the school, Overstreet noted, adding Gooch also “has taken a lead role in involving and ensuring continuous involvement of major community partners (like the YMCA and Mississippi University for Women)” in the school. “Without their help and support the magnet theme would not be as successful as it has this year.”
When she received the award, Gooch was explaining to the students the goals they had reached — walking one million steps and meeting their fitness goals — made the school eligible to be designated as an “active-lifestyle model school” by the President”s Council on Physical Fitness.
The designation requires at least 35 percent of a school”s students to be active; at Franklin, 68 percent of the children are meeting the goals.
“It”s all about the children,” Gooch responded, when asked what motivates her to go the extra mile. “It”s recognizing they”re young and that they need role models to look up to. They need to be held to high standards and to recognize that hard work and good attitudes pay off. Goals need to be set early.
“One of the great things about being the medical sciences and wellness magnet school is we don”t just talk about good nutrition and wellness, we walk the walk,” she added. “And I think that makes a difference in that we”re actually able to implement our magnet theme now. We”re able to implement our emphasis now and reach the benefits now. And anytime you feel good about yourself in one area, it helps to motivate you and inspire you to achieve in other areas.”
The Star Catcher Award, presented through a partnership between CMSD and Cadence Bank, is given twice a year.
“Coach Gooch goes above and beyond the call of duty for what her job role is,” said Phillips. “She absolutely loves students and that shows each and every day. She really, truly is an outstanding person and a great team member.”
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