This is part of a monthly “Why did I choose education” series in which alumni, students, faculty and staff of NC State College of Education explain why they chose education.
Watching his mother advocate for underserved students in Vernamfield, Jamaica, Lance Gooden ’22EDD developed a passion for increasing the educational success of all learners in education.
Reflecting on his mother’s work, experiences and support he received during his time in high school in Jamaica, then his arrival in the United States and his work in high school programs, Gooden recognized the challenges facing underserved and disadvantaged populations face in the education system. . And he wanted to make a difference.
“I liked it. I think it’s in my blood, âGooden said. âI come from a family of educators – brothers and sisters as well – and I have a rich history of education. My younger brother, who is a phenomenal instructor in Jamaica, teaches physics. Growing up in this environment it was instilled in me and I have always been drawn not only to advanced learners but also to trying to appeal to diverse and large populations to provide additional support when needed.
With the intention of becoming an architect, Gooden enrolled at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in industrial mathematics. While he was an undergraduate math teacher, he decided he wanted to be a mathematician. But after his experience as a substitute teacher at North Johnston High School, his focus changed.
Having discovered a love for teaching, Gooden landed a full-time position as a side-entry teacher at Clayton High School. He later accepted a position as an adjunct teacher in developmental mathematics at Johnston County Middle College High School, which was held at Johnston Community College.
Through this experience, he fell in love with community college and eventually landed a teaching position at Johnston Community College before becoming a department chair. While in his administrative role, Gooden enrolled in the NC State College of Education’s PhD in Community College Leadership Program, where he will graduate in 2022.
In January 2021, Gooden joined Durham Technical Community College as Dean of Building, Engineering and Skilled Trades. In this role, he oversees programs in the skilled construction trades and oversees academic transfer pathways for programs such as engineering.
âMy field is one of the many meta majors of the Guided Career Pathways model at Durham Tech. What is unique about my role is that this meta-major allows for transparent pathway plans, from non-credit or continuing education to short-term diplomas and university transfers. In a way, it is a question of drawing these ramps of access for the students towards a career or a transfer towards the universities â, he declared.
When Gooden isn’t helping community college students succeed or studying for his doctorate, you can find him on the football field. He loves football and was a youth football coach until the pandemic interrupted athletics. Besides being on the field, Gooden enjoys watching soccer and track and field. He loves spending time with his wife and two children outdoors, gardening and reading educational literature. But one of his deepest passions is math. Every now and then he picks up the math book and reads it.
Gooden explains why he chose education, what drew him to the community college leadership doctorate program, how education shaped him, and how his college experience touched him as an administrator. community college.
Why I chose education: It is a vocation, because there have been so many trajectories in my life. I was very focused on athletics and did well athletically, but I also taught early in my life, but I never thought I would pursue that for the long haul. I said I was going to be an architect, then I came to St. Augustine for college and said I was going to be a mathematician. It was only after my position as a substitute teacher at North Johnston High School. There was something about this experience; I will never forget these students. It was my algebra class and a small group of calculus students that I had, and it was just the reward to see them pass the EOGs and the AP exam and what that meant to them. I was at graduation and thought, âIt was amazing,â then got a full time job at Clayton High School. But I credit that moment, that experience as a substitute teacher at North Johnston High School.
Why I chose the North Carolina State Community College Leadership Doctorate Program: It is a well-known program. Dr. Carol Warren, Assistant Professor and Fellow at the Belk Center for Leadership and Research in Community Colleges, recruited and held information sessions, which piqued my interest. I also wanted to grow more as a community college leader. I learned so much more about the program and the flexibility of the course offerings. It was also vital, along with the funding opportunities and the ability to advance my career and expand my professional skills, network of acquaintances, etc.
It was a great opportunity to grow more as a leader, it is a well known program and it has been extremely practical to be able to take classes while working and being a parent. It was the perfect time and opportunity to grow and learn.
What I love most about being a part of the College of Education: I think what I appreciated the most was the wealth of knowledge and skills of the cohort. I am so grateful to be there. I believe they are intentional in the way they select and form the groups because I never imagined that I would continue to network, and I will do so again after graduation, with many members. of the cohort. I think the selection process and putting us together in a cohort only fosters a culture that is incredibly rich in knowledge and experience. I think almost anything is possible when you think about the challenges, the projects, the real emerging problems and the creative solutions that we have found; it has been invaluable. This network is super nice.
One of the reasons I’m at Durham Tech is that there were members of the Durham Tech Cohort who talked a lot about Durham Tech and I wanted to learn more about the culture because it was more in line with what I wanted to do.
How education shaped me: Lifelong learning. On the way up you think you are learning so much and it just stops and you sit back and relax, but most importantly, lifelong learning would say. It never ends and you can always learn more and keep growing. And one of the most important things, from a community college perspective, that I’ve learned is what this means for economic development and overall income.
Now I’m really focused on finding untapped skills and securing jobs for social and economic mobility. People want jobs to survive, live and give back to the community. I learned a lot about service and what it means to recognize and appreciate all the functions of our community college education sector and what it means for a society to function, especially in this pandemic.
I had so many years in university transfer to Johnston. I learned a lot about continuing education, but not as much. When the structured method can really work in all of these areas of the community college system, you are in a better position to meet the unique challenges of our region and community. These short term options, one of my programs, the Power Line Technician program, is 10 weeks long and students can come out earning close to $ 50,000 or more. It was only after my masters and National Council certification that I started earning as much as a power line technician, having invested a lot more. I’m happy where I am, but these are the stories that need to be told so that we can educate our society and give them a better position to choose instead of choosing for them and telling them.
An experience of the NC State College of Education that marked me: When I started the program, I had maybe 14 years of experience in the community college system, but I didn’t know anything. Every experience is a building block of something bigger. Learn about the history of the community college, the faculty, and the people who were past presidents. To have people like that, professors who are in the classroom with this deep and rich knowledge of practitioners and who also brought in outside people to present and really expand our knowledge of the community college system. I would say it was fantastic.
Learn more about Lance Gooden ’22EDD