Christopher Goins, Founding Principal at Butler College Prep
What drives your work, what is your why?
I am driven each and every day to do the work that I do because I have an opportunity to create and lead a school that affirms the identity our students constantly. I work in tandem with our entire community and they affirm my leadership as well. I tell them why we exist as a school, but, often times, they remind me why I am here.
What is the moment/event/situation that inspired you to enter the field you are in now?
Only 2% of the American teaching force is Black male, and the opportunity gap in America is adversely impacting “minority” students who constitute the majority in public schools. I have dedicated my professional life to eradicating this national crisis because the children at the lowest academic attainment level look like me, but the individuals teaching them do not. Most importantly, recent research confirms that all students, no matter their race, truly benefit from a Black male’s presence in the classroom. This research is directly linked to my own identity because my formative years in education were amazing and successful Black people surrounded me. I attended Dudley High School and NC A&T State University and “Black success” in Greensboro, NC was correlated to these historical institutions. My teachers and community leaders were Black. They held masters and doctorate degrees, which modeled academic excellence. Although my parents did not complete college, they knew that my “village” should reflect what they wanted me to achieve. I attended a prestigious Black church that was the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement there. The church included Black community members, educators at every level, lawyers, doctors, activists, and politicians. Thus, the absence of Black teachers generally or Black male teachers specifically had escaped me. It wasn’t until I relocated that I noticed that my experience was rare in most urban areas. Unbeknownst to me, I grew up with privilege.
What do you believe best prepared you to be successful in your career?
I am a successful educator simply because I have been blessed with a village that raised me and taught me to love the skin that I am in. I grew up in a place that taught me to love my strengths as an individual and to use these strengths to overcome any weaknesses.
Who is the mentor that has made the most impact in your life and why? What was the best advice they gave you, and how has it stuck with you throughout your career?
My mother said to me that I should live my life in a manner in which my gifts and talents define who I am and not anything else.