LAFAYETTE – The presence of African-American leadership at Greater Lafayette’s largest junior high school took a dramatic turn upward this past school year with hiring of Dushaun Goings as a school counselor and Dewayne Moffitt as school success coordinator.
Goings, a 1992 graduate of Lafayette Jeff, spent 12 years living in Chicago, the third largest city in the country, teaching and earning his master’s degree from DePaul University. After receiving his degree, he decided to return to Lafayette where he landed a job as the lone African-American counselor at Tecumseh.
Goings had been active in the community as the founder of the Tippecanoe Youth Center for at-risk youth, along with his involvement with the Greater Lafayette Indiana Black Expo, Greater Lafayette Commerce’s Diversity Roundtable, Tippy Connect Young Professionals and the Black Professionals of Greater Lafayette. Goings was named the Tippy Connect’s Ambassador of the Year in 2013.
Goings talked with OurTown.com during the school year about his role and the significance of his position at Tecumseh.
After living and working in such a vibrant place like Chicago, why would you want to come back and live in Lafayette, where you were born and raised?
“I wanted to be a school counselor. Getting to mentor students in my hometown was kind of like a dream come true. It’s a natural fit for me and how I want to reach out to kids. I’m the only successful black student from my high school class to came back.”
You said before that you ended up becoming a better college student than you were a high school student. What helped you blossom into the educational leader you are now?
“When I graduated from high school I went to work at Wabash National. I quickly saw that was not something I wanted to do. I left for St. Louis to play football at a junior college and I went from being a C-average to becoming an honor student. I then enrolled at Purdue for a degree in psychology and found that I enjoyed counseling and mentoring students.”
You are the lone African-American counselor at Tecumseh, which has the largest minority population of any junior high school in this region. Why do you feel your presence is important to those students?
“I tried sports and activities when I was growing up and I wished I had the role models that looked like me. I understand firsthand what it’s like not to have that. I was always told that everyone was treated the same. I didn’t want to be treated the same. I know what that feels like. The parents of many of the kids here were my friends when I graduated from Jeff. I see their parents in them. I’m very appreciative of this opportunity.
Some of the minority students believe that Greater Lafayette doesn’t hold much hope for them as far as encouragement and advancement. How do you reach them at this age?
“My hope is that even though I’m from Lafayette, that by taking those experiences I had in Chicago and sharing those things with them, they will see that Lafayette is a good, safe environment to get a comprehensive education that will help them pursue college or another vocation. The door is open for them here. I also hope to bridge that gap between the students with people who don’t look like them.”
You seem to be part of recent trend of African-American men returning to Lafayette in the education profession, with Dewayne Moffitt at Tecumseh and Peyton Stovall becoming Jeff’s first African-American athletic director. What kind of message do you think that sends to minority students originally from here as well as newcomers?
“I hope they can see themselves in the positions we have and there is a future here. Dewayne and Peyton, and others have seen the importance of giving back to the community they came from. Some kids are from places like Chicago and they feel the only way they can be successful is to go back to Chicago. I hope my presence shows them that they have other opportunities.”