She’ll spend this year organizing professional development sessions and networking opportunities for the education organization, which Goodwin said trains administrators and works to improve services for special education students.
As president, Goodwin also will represent the state’s special education administrators by sitting on the board of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, an affiliate organization of the Alabama Council of Administrators of Special Education.
Having other administrators with whom to discuss the many challenges and complicated federal laws regarding special education is critical, Goodwin explained.
The organization holds two conferences each year. One in October will focus on special education laws, and will be open to all types of school administrators.
“We invite principals and superintendents to our conference as well. The bottom line is that principal is really in charge of that school … so they have to know the law just like a special education coordinator does, “ Goodwin said.
Now in her 21st year with Oxford schools, Goodwin began her career teaching English and special education at St. Clair County Schools in 1990. A native of Blountsville, Godwin played basketball at Wallace State College and has coached girls basketball at Oxford City schools.
She received a bachelor’s degree in collaborative education from Jacksonville State University in 1990, and later, two masters degrees: one in administration from JSU and another in psychometry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also received an education specialist degree from JSU.
Roy Bennett, student service coordinator for Oxford schools, said Goodwin is one of the reasons that Oxford City Schools is at the cutting edge of curriculum advances.
Bennett explained that part of what has helped Goodwin in that effort is the networking she’s done with other administrators through the organization.
Overseeing the education of Oxford’s approximately 359 students with special needs comes with its own mix of challenges and rewards, Goodwin explained.
“When you see students become independent with the supports that they’ve received in school, and then they grow up and come back and they’re contributing citizens and good people, it’s very rewarding, ” Goodwin said.
But navigating the complicated maze of federal laws that govern special education can be difficult, she said. The organization offers professional development courses that help administrators stay up to date on those laws.
One of the most pressing challenges for special education programs are the federal spending cuts known as sequestration, Goodwin said.
Sequestration will take away $949 million from national special education funding over 10 years, according to the National Education Association. Alabama’s share of special education funding was cut by $9.8 million this year, according to the Alabama Department of Education.
Goodwin traveled with other public education administrators to Washington D.C. in July 2012 to talk with national leaders about securing more money for the state’s preschool programs and about ending those federal spending cuts.
“We’re very fortunate in Oxford that we have local support for programs,” Goodwin said. Oxford schools received nearly $5 million from the city of Oxford this year.
But not all school systems in the state have that same kind of support, Goodwin explained.
“Our budgets have been cut, but we still need to provide those services to our students, Goodwin said.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.