A pillar of compassion and strength
Pete Goodrich has devoted his career to serving his country — first as an active-duty Army officer, and since 2000 at Crook County School District as a head teacher and administrator at Pioneer High School.
Before moving to Oregon with his family, he served as an education and exhibits manager for a small Western history and rodeo museum in Wyoming before moving to Oregon. In Prineville, Goodrich was hired by the CCSD district in January 2000 as the middle school’s Drug Abuse Prevention and School Safety Coordinator.
“I eventually secured my Oregon teaching credentials and earned a master’s degree in education leadership, and my administrator license,” said Goodrich. “I have been with Pioneer since it opened in the fall of 2005, except for the year I was deployed to Iraq with my Army Reserve unit and the year I taught Social Studies at Crook County High School. I chose to return to Pioneer after that because I missed the alternative education environment, and I saw an opportunity to help the school through a period of change and growth.
“I’ve been with Pioneer as a lead teacher and administrator since then. We moved (the school) four times in less than six years, but each move was a chance for a reset and improvement.”
Pioneer High School recently moved into its first new building. The high school structure was built with the students and staff in mind, and the students have taken pride and ownership in the new building. The school also has shown a significant improvement in its graduation rates in the past few years, going from a 28% graduation rate in 2019 to 84% in 2022.
Goodrich explained that several factors contributed to the rise in the school’s graduation rate.
“We restructured our administrative relationships with some affiliated programs whose data had been lumped in with Pioneer’s since Day One. Once we were able to segregate that data, we had a much clearer picture of Pioneer’s performance.”
He added that they also doubled down on their data tracking and on developing new, innovative academic interventions at both the individual student and building levels. Their school was also the first high school program in Central Oregon that opened for in-person learning during the pandemic in September 2020. In addition, they did a hybrid model to accommodate more students while giving special attention to safety.
“That had a big effect on Pioneer because what it did was bring in a whole new demographic; a whole new set of clientele — that being students from CCHS who just wanted to go to in-person learning,” he went on to explain.
He added that many students liked it — even though it was an alternative high school, and many stayed when a full-day, all-inclusive model resumed in 2021.
“Here we are in 2022-2023,” he continued. “The district provided additional resources, including staff, instructional technology, and even this new building,” he said. “The growth has been a team effort. We have an experienced, creative, compassionate staff that works hard every day to provide opportunities for our students to succeed.”
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson commented that they are doing the proper work, and one way you can tell is the number of graduates you have.
“Pete Goodrich has been just a pillar of strength in that school,” said Dr. Johnson. “He is 100% dedicated to 100% of the kids, and he works with his team to get to every student and ensure every student is graduating. He never gives up. He never gets to the end of his rope. He just keeps trying, day in and day out.”
Jada Bates, a junior at Pioneer High School, enrolled during the 2022-2023 school year. Although she was behind on a few credits, she gained 5.5 credits in one semester.
“I only have a few left, and I am graduating early,” she said with a sense of pride. “The most beneficial thing is that the staff is there for you, almost like a family instead of just like a school. You have more of a support system.”
She said that Goodrich was the reason for her staying in school.
“I was curious about going here, and I am glad I decided to because Mr. Goodrich is always cheering me on to do my best.”
Goodrich will retire at the end of the 2023 school year. He reflects with pride on the work he and his staff do at Pioneer.
“What keeps us all going are the wins,” Goodrich concluded. “Many of our students come to Pioneer way behind in credits, perhaps with grudges towards schooling and often with backgrounds full of trauma. When you see those students step up on the graduation stage with big smiles on their faces, and you know that you have helped them get at least a shot at decent lives, that’s the fuel that keeps us all going.”