Former Substitute Becomes South Pointe’s New ISS Coordinator


Chaz Bickham, Reporter

The in-school suspension program will have a different focus under new coordinator Michael Muhammad, who seeks to motivate his students.

Muhammad replaces longtime facilitator Gerald Peake, who takes over as the school’s new Safety and Intervention Associate.

Muhammad began as a substitute teacher for Rock Hill Schools through Kelly Services, a staffing agency. His time at South Pointe started in 2017, when teacher Jimmy Staton had knee surgery. Muhammad covered his class for six weeks as a long term substitute.

Rock Hill represents a fresh start for the gray-bearded 52-year-old Philadelphia native. After spending all his life in Pennsylvania’s largest city, Muhammad transitioned to South Carolina. He didn’t understand the culture down South so he moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. for a year in 2014, until deciding he wanted to try Rock Hill again.

“I was frustrated and I didn’t want to be there (Philadelphia). The environment was toxic for me. I was tired of the fast life. It’s a good place, but it’s got its issues,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad’s love for South Pointe is immense, from the students to the culture to the staff and facility.

“It takes a team of people; I wanted to be apart of the team,” he stated about his enjoyment of South Pointe.

When South Pointe Principal Dr. Marty Conner approached him about the position in January, Muhammad was initially a bit apprehensive.

“I like being in the classroom and being engaged in the learning process, but I believe in higher powers. I want to be influential. Sometimes I have to submit what I want to the grand plan, and I respect and trust leadership,” Muhammad said.

With a military background, Muhammad emphasizes respect and discipline and plans on using those principles as lodestars for his classroom. He was in the Army National Guard for eight years from 1985-1993, six years in reserve, two years in ready reserve.

“It (the military) keeps me prepared, because in the military you’re accountable for what you are accountable for and people are counting on you. You have to be in position. It helps me be disciplined and helps my discipline transfer over.  I treat all students here at South Pointe as adults and I give and demand respect from them,” he mentioned.

Muhammad is committed to South Pointe for the long haul.

“I’ll sacrifice because I believe in what I’m doing. My future’s right here in this classroom. I don’t really have a future outside of young people. My success is doing something that has meaning in life. If I get the chance to influence 40-60 students in one year, I have done something positive because that is 40-60 adults,” he declared.