"AS FOR MONEY, I have always told my history students and my basketball players their top three priorities in life should be God, family and education." With these words, Morgan Wootten, teacher, announced his decision to remain at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville. For anyone who may have been out of town, Morgan Wootten, whose DeMatha basketball teams have won 649 games and national attention over the past 24 seasons, withdrew from almost certain appointment as the head basketball coach at North Carolina State University. The N.C. State coaching job and all the extras would have meant some $700,000 to Mr. Wootten over the next five years.

Seven hundred thousand dollars, even spread over five years, offers anyone a pretty safe hedge against the ravages of inflation -- especially a teacher-coach at a Catholic high school who is the father of five children. But Mr. Wootten obviously has values different from those embodied in tax shelters or deferred-income plans.

As for the challenge of coaching in the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference, Mr. Wootten has this to say in explaining his decision to remain at DeMatha: "Any time I help a student in one of my classes get a better start during his formative years, or touch the life of one of my basketball players, I feel I have climbed another mountain. That's the kind I prefer to keep on climbing."

Not only is Mr. Wootten a super basketball coach; he is also a super teacher. He reminds his charges (and everyone else) that you can have values that take priority over money and financial security. Mr. Wootten cares mightily about young minds and a sense of place and practicing what he preaches.