It does happen fairly often.
Standing in a grocery store or other retail venue in the Triad area, someone will look at my garb, see that I am affiliated with West Forysth and comment that he/she went to West. Many ask if there are still certain teachers still at West or if I may have known some of their favorite educators.
That possible time frame can span a few decades as West has been a staple of the Clemmons community for over 50 years. Multiple generations have matriculated through its halls.
While I may have not had the privilege to work with some apparently tremendous people, I usually am able to name one person that I have worked with that most Titans from previous decades may know: Jim Coghill.
Mr. Coghill started at West in 1973. And while he may have “retired,” he never really retired because this man loves his school.
One could spend hours pontificating on what makes Jim Coghill an icon and a standard by which people should live. And one of the reasons that he is the best of us is because he genuinely thinks the best of “us.”
You do not meet many people who have spent over 40 years in service to one high school. Imagine the thousands of people who have been on the receiving end of a compliment, a kind thought, and a caring gesture on his part.
Mr. Coghill still substitutes for many teachers on campus and he serves as an athletic trainer for many of the sporting events doing what he does best – taking care of people. He innately embodies that virtue of treating others as he would want to be treated.
Mr. Coghill has many times come to me to share news of something that he thought I might want to hear: news of a former student, a conversation he had with a parent, or that he ran into a friend of mine who asked him if he knew me because he had on his West Wear that day.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice that Mr. Coghill does something that people these days do not do much – he takes notes. There is always some sort of pen/pencil and pad at his disposal so that he can mark something – a date, a request, and quote – and have that to share later with another person always with a contagious positive energy that keeps him youthful.
Because, I have not seen him age a bit in the 10 years I have known him.
There are some people who are walking repositories of memories and stories of certain places. Mr. Coghill is that for West Forsyth. However, there is nothing that suggests to me that he will slow down.
Great teachers seem to paradoxically be empowered simply by empowering others. They retain a vigor, a passion, a drive to give to a community.
That’s why some day I hope to be as young as Jim Coghill is now.
In the 2013-2014 school year, West Forsyth restarted its literary magazine under a new title, The Nine Muses.
Guess whose poem is on the back cover of the first new issue? As it should be.
“West is Best”
As so many people are Neighborly, Noble, and Nice
“Tempus Fugit” for me I know
So where did all that time go?
A few years there, but many right here
As West Forsyth became so dear,
The fun began back in ‘73
As I started a career that was great for me.
Students would come and certainly did go,
But gosh it was fun even making little dough.
Rewards did come as the years went by
And the dough got better without a sigh.
A main concept evolved pretty soon;
One word stuck out being “neighborly” the tune.
Teaching positions would change with time,
So two more words I happened to find.
“Noble” and “nice” were added for me
So one plus two would then make three.
Hopefully I touched a few lives each year
As neighborly, noble, and nice did appear.
Could it make a difference and hopefully so
With the next generation as time should go?
Athletic training arrived in ’87.
Could it possibly have been something from heaven?
I learned from a man whose name was Ed.
He taught me so much in what he showed and said.
Course work came along for three summers real soon
And a little more dough helped out with the tune.
I finally was licensed in this great sports field
Making things complete in helping to heal.
Now I have started to see the years quite well
In being so much fun so I wanted to tell
Thank you to the many people at West
As I will always know you are the best.