Goho reflects on 20 years at NPHS

Goho reflects on 20 years at NPHS

The end of an era: After 20 years, North Providence High School principal Joseph Goho celebrates his transition to superintendent of the district.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Countless pieces of student art and handmade cards wallpaper the door to Joe Goho’s office at North Providence High School, visual evidence of his impact on the students he’s worked with since he was hired there in 1998.

“I always said I wish I wrote a memoir,” he said. “Being an active principal for so long, I’ve made connections with so many kids and families. Having those relationships is what fuels me. Every day was an exciting day watching students grow and develop.”

Leaving NPHS after 20 years is “bittersweet” for Goho, who was promoted to superintendent last month. Rather than bring on an interim principal to finish the current school year, he will remain in the role until a new candidate is hired this summer.

The decision to come to North Providence in the 1990s was a leap of faith for Goho, who thought he had landed his dream job teaching English at his alma mater, Classical High School, where he served as an athletic coach. He applied to an assistant principal opening at NPHS, but wasn’t selected to interview.

Dissatisfied with the pool of candidates, the School Committee, which at the time included current members Frank Pallotta and Anthony Marciano, went back to the drawing board. Goho was brought in for an interview, hired by the committee as assistant principal, and promoted the following year to principal.

Since then, Goho says he’s worked to build a positive school culture and sustain a reputation of respect within the North Providence community and across the state. While he said many encouraging things have been said about the high school during his tenure, the one he is most proud of was taken from a 2008 state report on the school, which called NPHS, “a school where every child is important.”

The high school’s demographics changed dramatically over his tenure, he said, with increased poverty and diversity. Ten percent of the school’s population was eligible for free and reduced lunch when he first started; it’s more than 45 percent now.

“As a school we adapted to the needs of our emerging community, never rested on our laurels and always looked for ways to improve and do things better for our students and families,” he said. “The result was a sustained period of community and statewide respect for everyone associated with NPHS.”

Goho said he’s most proud of the school’s two decennial accreditation visits from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), during which NPHS earned the highest rating.

“The rating, which placed us in the upper echelon of 700 New England schools, is a reflection of the entire school community, including teachers, students, administrators, parents, elected officials and community support, not any individual,” he said. “Everyone in the town deserves credit.”

He’s also proud to report that the percentage of students accepted into postsecondary institutions has increased from 68 percent in 2005 to approximately 82 percent in the last few years.

Goho said he hopes the next NPHS principal steers the school through continued successes, and said he hopes the school’s positive culture and climate will sustain itself into the future, along with the shared mindset that students come first.

As he transitions into his new role as superintendent, Goho said he’s begun to realize that his daily schedule might look very different, but that his goal remains the same.

“In the central office, it can be more difficult to remember that everything we do needs to be about the kids when we aren’t surrounded by kids,” he said. “You can’t lose that focus in isolation.”

Luckily, Goho said he feels as though his brain was programmed for this.

“I’ve been putting kids first my entire career,” he said. Even though he’ll no longer have students in his office every day, he vowed to set time aside to visit the schools regularly and noted that he has already visited all of the district’s schools once or twice.

In the long term, Goho’s goal is to “base every collective decision” on improving student achievement on standardized tests and improve retention and attendance rates, with the overall objective of ensuring that each student graduates career and college ready.

Goho said he “absolutely loved my job, loved going to work every day, relished forming lifelong relationships with kids and parents, and feel extremely fortunate to have worked alongside an amazingly talented faculty and staff that always put students and the school first. While I’m definitely sad about leaving the high school, I have one thought that reassures me: Once a Cougar, always a Cougar.”


But when are we going to see his contract? Is that a secret just like the previous superintendent's punishment for grand larceny.