True Blue & Gold: Jefferson Goodrich


Gianni Maffessanti, Staff Writer

The Hive recently caught up with Assistant Principal, Jefferson Goodrich.

The Hive: Can you tell us what your current role is at EHS?

Mr. Goodrich: Currently, I’m an Assistant Principal here at Essex High School. I work with ninth through 12th graders. I support our Co-curricular Activities Director, Mr. Merriam and I support students from all grades.

The Hive: Have you been in Vermont your whole life?

Mr. Goodrich: I grew up in Montpelier. I got both of my degrees, my undergraduate and master’s at the University of Vermont. I did spend one year in college out in Indiana, but transferred to UVM after my freshman year.

The Hive: What made you want to go into education?

Mr. Goodrich: So I knew pretty early that I wanted to get into education based on my own personal high school experience. I had several teachers that I admired and looked up to, and who pushed me to work hard and to have a level of awareness and a level of appreciation for the acquisition of knowledge and the application of knowledge. I knew going into my undergrad that I wanted to be a teacher.  Shortly into my run as a teacher, I entered a master’s program. And I opted to go into educational leadership to create potential future opportunities. So I taught for 20 years before moving into administration, and it was a fantastic run. And I have not ruled out teaching again because I really value the experience and the magic that happens inside of the classroom.

The Hive: What’s your educational philosophy?

Mr. Goodrich: My educational philosophy is to try to develop students in a myriad of ways to help prepare them for their future, whatever that may be, and to do so in a way that is engaging, that is inclusive, and that turns their curiosity into their next reality.  I like to take very complex ideas and teach them in a way that can be understood by all and makes them want to explore those areas further. So I think that kind of sums up what my effort has been as an educator.

The Hive: When did you start working at EHS?

Mr. Goodrich: Great question. So my first year here was 1992 as a college intern and volunteer coach. And then my first year as a teacher, as a paid employee, was 1995. So my first year in the building was 1992.

The Hive: Have you taught anywhere else before this school?

Mr. Goodrich: Shelburne Community School I taught there for one year in 1994 and I coached there for two. I’ve coached at Williston Central School. But other than those experiences, Essex High School has been the vast majority of my career.

The Hive: Are kids at EHS different from other schools?

Mr. Goodrich: You know, I’ve been to a lot of other schools as a coach and as an administrator administering other schools. I think we have a tremendous student body. And I think many of our contemporary schools, which is where I’ve spent my entire career, are full of amazing kids. And I enjoy students at our Tech Center as well. So I get to see students from the nine sending schools that make up the Center for Technology. And I think your question was, are they different? I don’t think we’re different. I think we’re all  uniquely our own. And we have our own identities. We’re all unique in our own way. I’m a Hornet. So I want to pull for the Hornets, every chance I get regardless of what we’re entering into. 

The Hive: Was teaching how you expected it to be?

Mr. Goodrich: You know, teaching has changed a lot over the last 28 years that I’ve been here. I think we’ve gotten better at understanding the complexities of our society and the students within our society and the needs that exist within our society. We are better at doing a more intentional job of trying to meet those needs. Because we are all complex beings, and we all have things that make us tick.  We’re all individuals and sometimes it’s a challenge to unpack and unwind and try to figure out what is the best strategy when working with students. So is it what I expected it to be? Yes, and I’ve embraced the change that has occurred over the course of my so far 28 ish year career. 

The Hive: What’s it like teaching or working here?

Mr. Goodrich: I love working here. As just noted in the last question, I’ve been here for a few minutes. I have been a social studies teacher where I taught Psychology, Sociology, and Government. I taught a freshman course back when it was economics, geography and government. I helped start the Current Issues course, where the primary focus is getting young adults to be aware of the surroundings in the world, the events around them and at various levels. I’ve coached at all three levels and really enjoyed those experiences. I was the head boys basketball coach for many years, and was the head track coach for a few years, and assisted for many. And I spent several years as the Athletic Director and Dean of Students before coming into the role as Assistant Principal a few years ago. I love the vibrancy of young adults. I love the curiosity. I love the challenges that come with working with students at this age. The faculty is amazing. They’re very caring and knowledgeable and they’re just a pleasure to work with.

The Hive: How would you have expected it to be when you moved up to become an administrator?

The Goodrich: Oh, that’s a great question. So was it what I expected it to be? I will say yes, being an administrator at Essex has been what I’ve expected because I was here for 20 years prior to and I had a pretty firm grasp. I had been a Dean of Students earlier in my career, which was, both teaching and being an administrator simultaneously back in 2004. So I had a pretty good understanding, but what was not expected or what has become a reality is the unpredictable nature of being an administrator because there are new challenges every day. Students, parents, community members, faculty staff, are ever changing. So no two days have ever been mirror copies of one another. Every day is new; there are new challenges and new opportunities to help students grow and help students meet their full potential.

The Hive: What is the most challenging thing about your job?

Mr. Goodrich: The most challenging thing about my job is maybe staying up on current legislation and trying to help guide our students through the challenges that our modern day adolescents face. I will say I think it’s tougher being a kid today than it was when I was a kid. And it’s tougher being a student today than it was when I started teaching. So being able to assist our students and their families, in navigating, navigating adolescence, in the pitfalls that exist that could derail someone’s optimum success.

The Hive: How do you think COVID has affected teaching and just school in general?

Mr. Goodrich: Well it’s had a huge impact. We all know that we lost the end of the school year two years ago. And the experiment of remote learning had many challenges to engagement. Last year’s hybrid experience was certainly better. And in that we had a kind of a centralized system utilizing Google Classroom and we got some in-time experience, but there are definitely gaps that have occurred due to the limited access we’ve had to students. And the amount of time that students are now spending on screens, I don’t think is healthy and overly productive. I don’t think the goal is to go backwards to the way it was pre-Covid. There’s some things that we may be able to do better now as a result of having this experience. But I look forward to the feeling of normalcy, post-Covid and getting strong routines and exploring alternative ways to disseminate information that we were able to do through Covid. I think we can learn from those lessons and then become even better at diversifying the way in which we instruct and engage learners.

The Hive: Do you think that virtual or hybrid learning was a failure? Or do you think it’s just not as effective as in-person learning?

Mr. Goodrich: For many, virtual learning was not a failure. But for some it was because without having contact time, you know, FaceTime, and direct instruction opportunities, it doesn’t work for all learners. So I think virtual learning can work for some, it can work for many. We had previously dabbled with virtual learning before Covid through virtual high school. I think we could see more opportunities for learners where that does meet their needs and meet their style choices. So I think we could see some expansion into virtual learning, but I would never want to see it replace in-person learning for the vast majority of our students. I think being in a school setting is required. 

The Hive: What is your favorite part of being an Assistant Principal?

Mr. Goodrich: The opportunity to interact with students and teachers and staff every day is different. I learn something every day. I love learning from the classes I visit, the students I interact with. And I have a certain appreciation for the unpredictability that each day brings.

The Hive: If you could do anything to EHS what would it be? 

Mr. Goodrich: Well, I would love to have an extensive renovation where every academic space gets updated, where every theatrical space, art space gets updated, where we could build a multi-purpose facility for any and all athletic endeavors. Something that meets the current needs of our learners of our artists or musicians or scientists or mathematicians or athletes – that’d be pretty exciting.