November 1, 2015 12:38:45 AM
When Junior Auxiliary of Columbus decided to select someone in the community as its Stand Beside Her Week honoree, the chapter did not have to look far for a worthy recipient. Terrie Gooch -- Coach Gooch, as she is widely known -- is being recognized as a female mentor making a difference.
For a second year, JA partnered with Girl Scouts Heart of the South in its national Stand Beside Her Week Oct. 25-31. The movement encourages women -- and men -- to support females of every age, on the school grounds, in the workplace, in the home and in the community.
Starting in childhood, girls are often inundated with negative messages and behaviors that prevent them from building healthy ideals about their futures. Competition and comparisons that form on the playground and in the classroom carry over to the boardroom and the home, holding women back from their full potential. As the next generation of girl leaders develops, Stand Beside Her hopes to promote a culture in which all women and girls are appreciated for their talent, strength and uniqueness.
"Junior Auxiliary is honored to partner with Girl Scouts Heart of the South," said Chapter President Dr. Bethany Hairston. "We've chosen to recognize Coach Gooch, a female mentor who has been a wonderful supporter for thousands of children for years in our community, including myself, when I was an elementary student."
Gooch is currently in her ninth year as physical education teacher at Franklin Academy in Columbus, where she works with pre-K through fifth-grade students. The Mississippi University for Women alumna and certified tennis pro was formerly a Physical Education instructor at Heritage Academy and coached tennis and taught Health and Kinesiology at MUW.
She organized the Backpack Snack Ministry for Franklin Academy through the Mississippi Food Network with First United Methodist Church, where she is an active member in Bible study groups, area service work and in the Emmaus Community.
Gooch is humbled by the honor.
"To be honest, I was shocked," she said. "I'm very familiar with Girl Scouts and with the work JA does, so when I heard the honor is actually being given in conjunction with both, I was numb. I have a lot of respect for both of those organizations, so to be recognized by both of them is very meaningful."
Gooch was a perfect fit for JA's selection criteria which include sustained excellence, accomplishment and creativity in the sphere of a candidate's chosen profession, for someone who embodies teamwork and has a willingness to share skills and expertise, leadership and motivation.
"She is super passionate about her job and obviously loves working with the kids," remarked Paige Spears, chair of the JA Public Relations Committee. "Her enthusiasm for making a positive difference in kids' lives is contagious."
The coach describes her job as a mission field.
"I believe my mission is to teach life lessons, to build confidence, and my platform is through sports and activities. ... I believe that if we can do something well, we can do other things well. When you set goals and you can accomplish those goals, the message is, if I can do this, I can do anything."
Gooch is being featured in JA regional publications and will be honored at the annual Charity Ball next spring.
"Coach Gooch is very deserving of this recognition for her dedication to encouraging children through physical fitness," said Hairston.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.