The corner office
Mr. Trent Goff is a very pleasant man to visit with, but he can be hard to get ahold of if your business is not pressing. Mine was not. Of course, when you consider that he is responsible for 184 employees and 1,100 students (not to mention property worth millions of dollars), that is to be expected. As a taxpayer, I was glad to know that he was busy taking care of things that are vastly more important than answering a bunch of silly questions from an old fool like me.
Most school districts, especially the smaller ones, will have had a mixture of superintendents: Some who came up through the local school system and some who were hired from the outside. That is probably a healthy situation.
Mr. Goff brought with him the best of both worlds. He graduated from Booneville High School in 1997, then got his undergraduate degree from Arkansas Tech and his master's from Harding University. Then he taught at Clarksville, Van Buren and Lavaca, before returning to teach at his alma mater and later becoming principal. Thus, he had worked under at least four different administrations and been able to observe firsthand the pros and cons of their methods before he moved into those functions at Booneville.
He commented that the advantage of being a superintendent who grew up locally is knowing firsthand what the community expects and what has worked and what has not, given the unique characteristics that each school district possesses. He is 41 years old and is in his third year as superintendent at Booneville, which means that he was one of the younger people in that function in the state when he assumed the position.
These days, the current emergency is on everyone’s mind. I asked Mr. Goff if he anticipated any permanent effects from having had to deal with COVID-19. He said that some new sanitation procedures and methods of monitoring students probably were here to stay. He noted that the number of disciplinary problems was down from past years and commended his staff for their efforts in getting through a difficult and stressful period.
Has his perspective of the top job changed from when he was a student at Booneville High School? Definitely. In those days he had no idea just how challenging school administration is. As might be expected, he said that he would have been much better prepared for each of his educational jobs if he had had a better grasp ahead of time of the difficulties and challenges involved.
Mr. Goff noted, however, that even the top job is much easier when you have a good school board and staff, as he has. He also expressed his appreciation to the state legislators for their support, and said they have been consistently cooperative.
As I write this, I am casting my mind back to try to remember who the superintendent was when I entered the hallowed halls of Mrs. Edwards’ first grade class. To be honest, I am not sure, but I think there was a Mr. Benton back in those early days. I guess I could dig out some old annuals and find out for sure, but it does not really matter.
What does matter is who sits in the corner office now. Best wishes to Mr. Trent Goff and the other area administrators as they watch over the futures of our communities.
(Just for the record, if anyone had me in mind for one of those jobs, you can just forget it; and that is even if you paid me 10 times Mr. Goff’s salary.)