The commons is more than just a cafeteria; it is a central place to the community of Godwin. It is where many students eat, hangout with friends, study, and more.
It is typical to dedicate buildings or parts of them after someone who had a personal connection to it or made a lasting impact on the people there – someone people remember.
Because other parts of our school have been dedicated to important people in our school and community, faculty at Godwin decided our commons should be named after someone who greatly influenced the spirit here at school.
The commons was renamed after former Godwin principal John B. McGinty. He was assistant principal from July 1983 to June 1991, then principal from July 1991 to July 2003.
McGinty was and still is highly regarded by teachers, staff, and alumni.
Godwin government and sociology teacher, Anna Bryant, agrees with that sentiment.
“Mr. McGinty was a mentor, role-model and gentleman. He fostered the idea [that] this was his family and he wanted to know his work family – professionally and personally,” said Bryant.
McGinty was known for being friendly to everyone and making an effort to know each student by name.
“He tried very hard to know as many students as possible and attend as many school events [as] possible within a seven day week with only 24 hours to a day. I am not sure he ever went home,” said Bryant.
He also made sure to surround himself with students and let them know that he was there for them. He loved to pop in classrooms and check in with the students to see what they’ve been up to.
“It’s always exciting to see students learn and “get it” and gain confidence in what they can do. Art was always fun to see creations from so many talented students, and I often would be invited to come to Industrial Arts classes to see a table or lamp that a student had made for his parents,” said Ginty.
McGinty was well known and had relationships with many of the students and staff. On student birthdays, he would take time to deliver a pencil to each student. He was dedicated to and loved his job and the people that came with it.
Mr. McGinty was very much a “people person”. He was easily approached, very engaging in discourse, and always had a wonderful sense of humor. He knew the meaning of diplomacy and practiced it well,” said GHS math teacher Dan Wallace.
HCPS teacher and former Godwin teacher Sherri Matthew remembers McGinty foundly.
“Mr. McGinty stood in the commons every day during lunch. He was ever-present, spoke to everyone, and the students knew their principal didn’t hide in the office, but was visible for them,” said Matthew.
Current Godwin principal Leigh Dunavant, put the renaming of the commons into action when she sent the school board a letter on Nov. 2, 2021. The letter contained quotes of praise for McGinty from multiple teachers, alumni, and other principles.
Those quotes show the love and respect for McGinty.
Godwin alumnae Annie Steingold said, “in the uncomfortable environment that is known as high school, Mr. McGinty went out of his way to make everyone feel comfortable, valued, acknowledged, and accepted.”
From Mary Mordfca, another former GHS teacher: “He was all over the place, but the commons during lunch or before school was his home base. I can still see him sitting on one of those little uncomfortable round cafeteria seats surrounded by the commons chaos working on…something. Who knows how much paperwork he completed there, but for sure the work of being accessible and connected got done.”
McGinty was overjoyed to see the rally of teachers and former students supporting the changing of the commons name.
After the announcement of the renaming, McGinty began to reminisce about his days at Godwin.
“My favorite part of being principal was going to extracurricular activities when I could. The feeling of competition and having a group of young people to root for and with was a real joy for me. I spent my entire career feeling I was a part of something special in being able to witness Godwin competition and announcing student and faculty success the next day. While I was on cafeteria duty students would often ask me if I was going to be able to go to an athletic activity or a band or choral program. I really enjoyed being proud of our students and enjoyed being with them when they chose to be a part of a team or performance.”
Many people who know McGinty are happy that this change was made. He made an enormous impact on the faculty and students while he was at Godwin. They believe that he fully deserves this honor.
HCPS teacher and Godwin alumnae Lindsey Pontole said, “He knew how to have fun with us and support us! We knew he had our best interests at heart and because of that, we trusted him.”
The commons was officially renamed on Dec. 9 2021, and a reception will be held on Feb. 26 to honor McGinty.
“It made me very happy to learn that the commons was going to be named in my honor. I have been retired since 2003 and to be remembered years later in this special way makes me very happy and humble. It was gratifying to know that many former and current students and teachers supported the idea. I was and am very grateful to your [the current Godwin] principal and my former student, Mrs. Leigh Dunavant, for coordinating this effort with all the many things she has to do,” said McGinty.