J.L. and Martha Bond Goins were born to parents whose education ended with early elementary school. Neither had the financial support from home to attend college, yet they became lifelong educators who continue to support students during their retirement.
J.L. Goins, former president of State Technical Institute at Knoxville — now Pellissippi State Community College, and Martha Goins, who worked as a counselor at Oak Ridge High School until her retirement, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for 2020 at their Friendsville home Dec. 11.
The award honors individuals, companies and organizations who go “above and beyond” to donate their resources, finances and personal time to a Tennessee Board of Regents institution.
Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. nominated the Goinses as “career educators with a focused passion for career and technical education.”
“J.L. and Martha Goins know first-hand the importance of educational access for a family and a community,” Wise said. “Their passion for career and technical education was evident in their working years and has continued to drive their commitments today.”
J.L. Goins grew up attending Blount County schools, the middle of seven children in a poor family.
“As a youngster, I picked and sold blackberries, hoed cantaloupes and watermelons, built fires for the school – just about anything to earn money to help the family,” he explained. “At age 15 and a sophomore at Everett High, I began washing dishes at Blount Memorial and started saving what I could for college. It took a long time at 50 cents an hour!”
Martha Goins is from rural Campbell County and spent two years in a coal mining camp in Claiborne County. She was put in touch with a Lincoln Memorial University representative who explained she qualified for scholarships, grants and work study. She later transferred to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and was able to graduate early with honors.
J.L. Goins chose Maryville College because he had no vehicle and could walk to school. At no point did he receive any financial aid. Despite working full time, he went on to become the college’s top graduate in Business Administration and received a $50 savings bond for that honor.
“I promptly went out and spent $27 on a suit for graduation and job interviews, so when I graduated, I had $13 to my name,” he said. “I never had any help, but I vowed I would help others.”
Throughout his time in education, J.L. Goins never lost sight of the need for preparation for employment.
“I saw the need for decent jobs that would mean a decent quality of life,” he said. “Education is America’s equalizer. If you have a relevant education and a willingness to work, you have an equal opportunity for success.”
But education doesn’t necessarily mean graduating from a four-year college or university, J.L. Goins stressed.
“Academia and many parents are in love with the idea that everyone needs a four-year college degree,” he said. “In fact, many jobs in America don’t require that, but need appropriate technical and other related job skills. It is a classic mismatch of workforce educational needs.”
J.L. Goins set out to change that. In 1964, he began his career in education with Oak Ridge Schools, establishing its first marketing and cooperative education program. Less than two years later, he moved to Chattanooga Public Schools, serving as principal of the system’s adult education center and eventually developing the state’s largest adult education program.
J.L. Goins went on to become technical education director for a cooperative effort by the Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County school systems. He was recognized by the American Vocational Association as the Southeast’s best.
In 1981 J.L. Goins was appointed president of State Technical Institute at Knoxville, which evolved to Pellissippi State Technical Community College in 1988. As president, J.L. Goins promoted and supported a wide variety of programs such as fine arts and college transfer classes. During this period, he also oversaw the construction of the Hardin Valley Campus and expanded Pellissippi State into Blount County.
Before J.L. Goins retired in 1993, Pellissippi State’s enrollment had more than tripled from 2,500 students when he came to State Tech to about 9,000.
J.L. Goins spent time promoting technical programs in area high schools and making sure those classes articulated to Pellissippi State. He also worked with the University of Tennessee to help fill UT’s pipeline with Pellissippi State students who could transfer to the university as juniors. But he didn’t stop there.
“The whole focus of my time in education was students,” J.L. Goins said. “As president, I spent as much time supporting economic development as I did supporting the college so that our students would have jobs when they graduated.”
Martha Goins made her mark in education as well. After working as a technician in the Biology Division at Oak Ridge National Lab for almost four years, she began her career in education as a junior high science teacher and later was a counselor at Oak Ridge High School, from which she retired. One of Martha Goins’ goals was to help her students become employable by being prepared for jobs that would be both satisfying and provide economic stability.
In addition to guiding those students who chose to attend various universities, Martha Goins guided others who went straight into the workforce, those who chose the military and other options. She was recognized locally, regionally and at the state level for her innovating programs. After retiring in 1995, she volunteered for 20 years in Blount County Schools.
In retirement, the Goinses have continued to support Pellissippi State through consistent and generous donations to the college’s Foundation.
“Pellissippi State’s plans to construct the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on our Blount County Campus fulfill J.L.‘s lifelong dream: a center where high school students, technical education students and community college students can study side-by-side, in pursuit of a credential, a job and a career that can support a family,” Wise said.
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.