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MDUSD Profile - Bill Godinez

Bill Godinez

Computer Technology Teacher

Olympic Continuation High School

U.S. Army Veteran

 

Where you are from and where you live now?

Born in San Diego. Mom and Dad moved when I was 2 to Omaha.  It wasn’t until I was working with AT&T in the early 80’s that I then moved to Alamo, CA, eventually settling in Ripon, CA, where I live now with my wife.

 

How long you’ve been teaching at Oly?

I’ve been with OHS since December of 2012, about seven years.

 

You are a Vietnam veteran-turned-educator, and we salute both forms of public service.  Would you tell us your story?

I joined the military right out of high school, signing up for the draft in 1971.  The draft was huge then, forcing high school students to be automatically registered for the draft, based upon their birthday, and the lottery drawing that indicated which birthday(s) the military would be drawing from first.  I remember hearing of how many were trying to find a way out, some even moving to Canada, or registering as a pacifist.   When they drew April 5th (my birthday), my number was 342 (out of 365 – which means I was more than likely not being drafted, since they would have taken all of the others before me. But being foolish, and feeling like I wanted to learn how to “survive,” I signed up for the draft one weekend, not even thinking about letting my mother know, or asking her permission.  I still feel bad about it today, as I know it really hurt her, even though I meant no harm, and was doing it because at that time, the Army would pay you monthly for going to college once you got out.

 

Well, an adventure it was, and all I can do is be thankful to God, for not only keeping me safe, but delivering me from oh-so many adventures.  Like when I discovered that I was really good at shooting (scored expert: 99 out of a 100 rounds), only to find that this was an automatic ticket to Fort Polk, where they prep you before you go to “Nam”.  Or discovering that the upheaval back home (Nixon getting impeached, Congress demanding we get out of Nam), was helping me come back early. Learning from my experiences just how precious and valuable life is through the sound of the zzzzip a bullet makes when it goes by you, or refusing to follow orders to stay in formation, when you discover that one of your teammates just sliced their wrists and needed my help, or the value of a team, that’s focused on taking care of each other and getting you home.  And how discipline becomes your friend as you try not to panic in the dark in a place you don’t want to be, and nothing is friendly. Or just how good God is.

 

So when my final day of release , November 31, 1973, arrived, and I got myself back to my friends in Omaha, I found God again helping get past an AT&T Interviewer who said that she didn’t believe that “my interests and theirs were not alike”  Her supervisor quickly came out and gave me a filing assistant job (even though I thought I’d do better as one of their truck drivers).  AT&T had a special Management Assessment program that I wanted to go to; I scored “More Than Acceptable” (top 2%). So by my 2nd year at AT&T, I was actually flying around in their corporate jet as one of their EEO Compliance Officers, checking to ensure their hiring and employee practices were in compliance with all Affirmative Action laws.

 

I was with AT&T for about 17 years, going from being EEO Compliance Officers, to Product Marketing and Project Management positions, while moving from Omaha, to Alamo, CA with my wife and two young sons, learning more and more about the importance of teamwork, and the amazing effect that synergy has accomplishing unsurmountable tasks, and the promotions that follow.  I also worked as a Director of Training for Verizon’s business markets.

 

What drew you to education?

It was at a wedding that my wife and I were attending, that her boss, (Steve Winter, Principal at Manteca High School) found out that I also had a Math Degree and asked if I wanted to teach Math. I was in my 50’s, winding up my career at Verizon, and was nowhere near wanting to retire.  He offered me a position, setting me up with emergency credentials, and I jumped at the offer.

 

I was initially worried that my disciplinarian style might not jell very well with the younger generation. I discovered that it worked very well, especially with at-risk students.  So much so that by the third year, the district asked me to  help peer-train other teachers at other schools. There were times when I wasn’t sure where the next teaching position would be – or if there would be one. I ended up being hired to head Tracy High’s Business Dept. and teach in my favorite field – Computers and Business. The district went through a downsizing right after I’d tenured with them.  I could look beyond the “sub” positions TUSD wanted me to do, until the economy “recovered”, and risk looking for a different teaching position. 

 

My trust in God kept me calm through the initial break-in period of my new position as Technology Teacher, at one of the best, and most enjoyable schools I’ve had since my transition to education, Olympic High. 

 

So a new district, new school, new classroom. What were the challenges?  Joys?

My predecessor had left me a letter regarding safety concerns with students, and I had to overcome fears about that. On my first day at the job, I threw out of my class several students over several period, as per my disciplinary style. The administration was concerned, especially after looking at security video from my room that showed students towering over me and shouting down the demands I had made to them prior to having them removed from the classroom.  I was not as concerned as the administration

 

I believe God used my time in the service to learn that all I really needed was to be able to go home, that if I could survive it, I could survive anything.  The rest was just gravy-adventures, and keeping the best one, for last – working with the best Administration I’ve encountered with Lynsie and her team who made us into a Model Continuation High School, and the impressive professionalism exhibited by MDUSD and its remarkable team.

 

What has been a recent “a-ha” moment in your classroom – where you saw the proverbial light go off with a student?

Hour of Code, and why I’ve just finished putting together a Robotics Course for OHS that I’m now awaiting approval from my Admin.  A student that I was struggling with to just complete some of the simpler assignments, rocked in programmng code. Or with one of  our Alliance students, who wanted  to go beyond Hour of Code, to true programming.  Reminding me of how I missed that part of my life, and grateful to Lynsie for considering having it a course here at OHS.

 

What has been your own recent a-ha moment?

OHS Robotics, and how the code I selected (Python) not only provides those who learn it with $116K jobs without any degrees, but is also the #1 code selected by Coders today.

 

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a classroom teacher?

Reaching the students that have lost hope, and feeling like they’ll never graduate, to be able to do so.

 

Can you tell us about some of your more memorable teachers and how they influenced you?

I only recall an English Teacher in my H.S. times, and how he always wore a suit. Funny though, that’s what I wear now…

 

What would you like your students to be able to say about their experience in your classroom and their relationship with you as a teacher and mentor?

What the Lord already let me hear, that I was “their best teacher…”

 

What makes you #MDUSDProud?

Working here, with this incredible staff and admin team, and serving the best students in the East Bay!

Bill Godinez
Bill Godinez