With 33 years in education, Bingham explains his ‘why,’ and what keeps him moving
Q: How did you begin your career in education?
A: I have been with Rutherford County School System, at Riverdale, for 33 years. So, I started out in special education and then about three years ago I came into the counseling department, and I am the school registrar. Right now, I do all of the registration, withdrawals, and help students get documents ready for colleges. I help them make that transition and send transcripts, give them information about scholarships ... basically anything I can do to help them prepare for college.
Q: What makes Riverdale students unique to work with?
A: I’ve been here a long time. This is my fourth principal since I’ve been here and the traditions at Riverdale, I mean, it’s a family. You know? Anything anybody needs, anyone and everyone will rise to the occasion and do whatever they can to help. Whether its professional, whether its personal. We all support, support one another and take care of on another. The school spirit here is phenomenal. We have great students here. I saw that the most when I started seeing how students reacted and interacted with our special ed kids. It was just something unique and special where they try to make them just a part of the whole school and a part of the whole student body. So, the family atmosphere we have here is special.
Q: Why is it important working with kids?
A: I think we all have a responsibility. If we are working in education, we have the responsibility to do whatever we can to help these students meet their full potential, because it’s not about us, it’s about them. So, whatever I can do, doesn’t matter what it is, I want to help them reach their full potential. I’m willing to do that because there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing what they become after they leave here. To be able to say I just had a little part in that is amazing.
Q: What was it like moving from special education to counseling?
A: It wasn’t a drastic change because there’s a lot of paperwork then and there’s a lot of paperwork now. You know, I reach a little further now because the student groups I’m working with are broad. So, I’m getting to form a lot of relationships with a lot of different students. I also sponsor the Riverdale Gospel Ensemble and sponsored one of the dance groups here. I’ve worked with Ms. Watkins who was the chairperson of the special education department. I’ve tried to help athletes get scholarships working with coaches. I had a lot of interactions before, but now, like I said, it’s a broader thing.
Q: What are your passions outside of education?
A: I’m very involved with church and volunteering. I do a lot of work with an after-school program at McFadden Community Center where a lot of kids are inner city youth. I help with their homework, and we provide activities and take them to places they haven’t been. So many of those kids have not been outside their community. So, we try to expose them to life beyond that.
Q: Any volunteer opportunities you would recommend for people in the community?
A: Well, any community center can use volunteers. My passion is helping children. So, most of the work I do is always in the area of promoting the lives of children. I highly recommend those types of activities, and community centers can always use volunteers.