Brad Gooding's life has long been a mixture of education, sports and family.
While a senior at Southeastern High School in Augusta, the Bowen native played on the basketball team that placed fourth in the 1992 Class A state tournament.
After high school, Gooding began officiating basketball and baseball games -- something he still does today, 21 years later, in Illinois and Missouri.
Upon graduating from Quincy University in December 1996, Gooding became a history teacher at Southeastern. He also started coaching basketball and baseball. Gooding subsequently accepted other jobs in education and athletics in Palmyra, Mo., Mendon and at Illini West High School in Carthage, where he has been principal the past five years. The father of two sons also was a Little League coach the last two years.
In April, Gooding was elected to the Carthage Elementary District's School Board.
"I just saw it as another way to be involved in a different level," he said.
Through all of his endeavors, Gooding always strives for excellence.
"It goes back to athletics and being a competitor," he said. "You want to be the best, and you want to be successful."
Family: Wife, Becky; Sons, Kennedy (14) and Lincoln (11); Dog, Harper.
Education: Associate's degree from John Wood Community College; bachelor's degree in history education from Quincy University; master's degree in education from William Woods University.
Community Involvement: School Board member with the Carthage Elementary School District; volunteer Little League baseball coach with Carthage Fitness Center.
What is your job, what do you do and what do you like best about it? Principal at Illini West High School. What I do is hard to describe. Simply put, I educate kids. The best part of my job is seeing students be successful in the classroom and in extracurricular activities along with growing up to be good people.
What is a typical workweek like? Define "typical." My day at school starts usually between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. and sometimes doesn't end until 9 p.m. or after. However, with technology, I am available 24/7. Some weeks I am dealing with school business 40 hours, 50 hours, 60 hours. Forrest Gump's quote about life and chocolates holds true for me. Each day and week is different, and I never know what is coming next. One thing is true: I always know when it is a full moon.
What was your first job, and what do you remember about it? My brother and I had a lemonade stand when we were young. We spent what little money we made at the Hancock and Adams County fairs.
How do you balance everything? I make many lists and have numerous calendars. Honestly, I don't balance everything. I work way more than I should and don't spend enough time with my wife, kids and dog.
Which person has influenced you the most and why? Too many to name. However, my parents, Mike and Jill, set the example of what working hard will do for a person. Neither one went to college out of high school but worked hard to provide better opportunities for my brother and I. I would name all the good friends, teachers, coaches, professors, bosses and co-workers I have been around, but I am sure I would forget someone and I don't want to do that. I have been really fortunate to be around a number of good people.
Have you ever failed at something? How did you recover? I fail every day and make mistakes every day. There are different items I put on my list to get done, and sometimes I don't get them all done. I just have to add them to the next day's agenda. I just try not to make the same mistake twice.
What does success mean to you? Being a hard worker, productive with your time and being responsible when given tasks to complete.
What was your proudest professional moment? Tough to answer and single out just one. It is always nice to hear about the good things happening to former students that I have coached, had in class or been around as an administrator. It is nice when kids come back to school or stop you in the community to chat about what is going on in their lives. As I travel throughout the state officiating basketball games, I am proud to tell people about Illini West, our teachers and our students.
What is your favorite stress buster/leisure time diversion? Officiating a basketball/baseball game. I love having people yell or scream at me like fools when they don't know the rules. Officials have fun with those people. I also love helping Robertson Farms with field work. Getting in a tractor and turning over dirt is relaxing to me.
What is the biggest need in your community? With Illini West High School being "homeless" in the eyes of the Illinois State Board of Education, Illini West needs its own, new building. The adults owe it to the current and future students of the district. The current community members are only doing a disservice to the future students by not getting this done.
What gives you reason for optimism in your community? As with most communities, education is a priority. Knowing there are a number of community members in Carthage, Dallas City, LaHarpe and all the outlying areas in our district committed to education, I am confident that some way our residents will come up with a new educational facility for our students. The adults expect a student's best work each day, so why not give the students the best environment to work in?
If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself when you were in high school, what would it be? Listen more to my parents. They really did know more than me. I would also tell myself to pay attention more in some of my classes in high school, especially my math classes.
If you weren't working for Illini West High School, what would you be doing? Traveling the United States officiating college basketball games, broadcasting some sort of sporting event or working on a grounds crew at a professional ballpark.
If you could add a few more hours to the day, how would you spend them? I get caught up in working too much and spending too much time at school. I need more hours to spend with my family. My boys are growing up way too fast and I have already missed too much.
Do you live by any mantra or saying? As an educator I am constantly telling people, "Do what is best for kids." At graduation every year, I tell the graduates three things: 1) Commitment -- Be committed to whatever they do, don't do things half-heartedly; 2) Responsibility -- When taking on tasks, see them through to the end; 3) Honor -- Be truthful with your words and actions; have character but don't be a character.
Career aspirations aside, name one thing you definitely want to accomplish in your lifetime. Watch my two boys grow up to be good people and successful in life.