A Living Institution Within An Institution

By Bishop Michael Goings
In all actuality, this commentary started forty-eight years ago, when a man from Latta, South Carolina, fresh out of Morris College, came to Dillon School District Two as a social studies teacher.  Little did he realize at the time that he would stay in one school district for so long and would become one of its most beloved and enduring teachers; a living institution within an institution.
I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. James Moultrie in 1965 when he was my social studies teacher.  I was in the eighth grade and possessed what some teachers, who were displeased with my mediocre academic application and achievement, termed untapped yet great potential.  Due to being undisciplined and possessing a dislike for homework and study, I managed to get by and impress some with an uncommon memory and ability to be argumentative and rhetorical during classroom discussion.  To be honest, I despised and struggled in math and managed to perform only above average in English. Perhaps the one subject that captivated and fascinated me the most was Mr. Moultrie’s social studies class.  I’ve always wondered through the years whether it was the teacher, the subject, or both which had the greatest effect on a student. Whatever the case, it was there in his class that I found my niche in the world of academia. From that time until this present day, I
have remained a lover of history and all things historical.  Mr. James Moultrie, who has been a loyal and effective social studies (his specialties ranging from history to civics and beyond) teacher for forty-eight years, is due a lot of credit for helping to ignite this fire and passion that has burned in my bosom all of these years.
Little did he know or realize back then that he would so inculcate and inseminate the seed for historical knowledge in my mind, which would sprout into a lifelong quest.  If truth be told, I am not the only student who has been influenced and impressed by him during his many years of teaching.  Perhaps many of them were not as inspired and fascinated by history as was I; however, through the years, hundreds have been directly touched and influenced by Mr. Moultrie’s love of history which has been preserved and passed on to posterity.
Beginning at Gordon High School, continuing to J.V. Martin Junior High School, and presently at Dillon Middle School, Mr. Moultrie has served with distinction and resolve.  His devotion to teaching has extended beyond the classroom to include a yearly cultural and educational trip to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.  This trip was organized by him to give the students firsthand knowledge on how our government works, as well as an opportunity to see and visit some of the historical sites.  Mr. Moultrie, who also teaches Civics, has proven that his civic mindedness was more than classroom rhetoric and theory.  He has been actively involved in the political process for many years and has even served as the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Dillon County for many of these years.
I was recently in attendance at the formal dedication of the new Dillon Middle School.  It is indeed a state of the art facility that has taken much time, planning, effort, and prayer to produce.  Sitting there as the program unfolded and the various people who were instrumental in helping to achieve this monumental task were recognized respectively, Mr. Moultrie’s name just happened to come up in regards to the many years he has taught in the school district.  I was privileged with the knowledge that it was a discussion in his social studies class back in 2008 that had initially challenged and prompted one of his then students, Ty’Sheoma Bethea, to compose a letter to the then President-elect Barack Obama about the plight of our middle school, which had become infamously referred to as “The Corridor of Shame.”  Evidently, Mr. Moultrie’s instructions and suggestions about writing a letter to Mr. Obama fell on good ground and the rest is
history.  There is a principle in life called “cause and effect.”  It does not take a genius to deduce that had it not been for Mr. Moultrie’s inspiring challenges that planted the idea in Ty’Sheoma’s mind, the now famous letter would have never been constructed nor sent.  Being the modest and mild mannered man that he is, Mr. Moultrie never sought credit or desired to be identified with the notoriety that has been associated with Ty’Sheoma and her letter. If Mr. Moultrie knew that I was writing this commentary in his honor and recognition, he would no doubt have forbidden me to do so.  His character is one of greatness.  Mr. Moultrie, I know I speak for most, if not all of your students, when I say, “THANK YOU SIR,” for all of your many years of loyal service.  You are an example of the many in your field who are underpaid, underappreciated and vastly underrated.  Your longevity and loyalty could not have been for money, notoriety, or
such the like.  It had to be because of your concern and love for children that motivated and kept you in the struggle for all of these many years.  Without the likes of you, we would have no doctors, lawyers, engineers, or credible and competent people in any profession.  Thank you, Mr. Moultrie, for the indefatigable spirit and unfaltering devotion that you have demonstrated in doing your job all of these years.  Only God can repay you for the many sacrifices you have made in helping to challenge and cultivate the minds of young people.  I, and so many others are a part of your enduring legacy and a living testimony of a job WELL DONE!
* About the author: Bishop Goings is the Founding and Senior Pastor of Outreach Family Fellowship in Dillon and Florence, SC and the Founder and Presiding Prelate of Fellowship of Interdependent Church Global. He is the husband of Dr. Louise Goings and father of Mrs. Jennifer Rouse of Florence and Michael Goings II of Dillon.