What a Difference a School Makes

Editor’s note: Andrea Charroin wrote this letter to her son’s teacher. With her son’s permission she’s sharing it here with us today.

This time of year families are celebrating the graduation of their students from one of the several excellent schools in Shasta County, but I believe one school is often overlooked when we think of excellent education in Shasta County.

That school is Pioneer High School.

Pioneer High School is a true gift to students and families in our city. Often thought of as the “bad kid” school, or the school for future dropouts, Pioneer is everything many of our schools should aim to be.

Pioneer changes lives and improves our community through their exceptional programs that take students who have often been marginalized by their comprehensive school, and shows students that there is opportunity in education. Pioneer offers a chance, a hope for students to succeed, often for the first time. Pioneer provides support for students to grow in positive directions through their leadership program and positive role models for students.

Pioneer High School’s teachers and ALL staff are to be commended for the amazing work that they do.

Rex Charroin, a 2016 Pioneer High School graduate, public speaker and honor roll student.

Rex Charroin, a 2016 Pioneer High School graduate, public speaker, and Rotary Club of Redding Honor to Youth Award recipient.

Our son never truly fit in at any school. His experiences with success and a positive learning environment were never part of his school day. During his sophomore year he was asked to go to Pioneer High School. At first we hesitated to send him there because of our own misunderstanding of the school and the school’s mission.

My first impression while sitting in the office was WOW!!! Students were respectful, and EVERYONE in the office greeted us with an enthusiastic, Welcome to Pioneer. The principal, Mrs. Prigmore, took us around the campus and showed us the beautiful garden area and other school improvements. This school was incredible!

Pioneer High School gave our son a positive place to learn, opportunities to succeed in leadership, and wings to grow toward a life goal.

I am proud to say that my son graduated from Pioneer High School.

Pioneer High School is a true hidden gem of a school. I applaud all of the staff who truly want to make a difference in our community through education.

What a difference a school makes!

andrea-by-burkeAndrea R. Charroin is a teacher who also happens to be a trained baker. She was a pastry chef in San Francisco before she and her family moved to Redding where they created and operated Rene-Joule Patisserie in downtown Redding for three years. Andrea lives and works in Redding with her husband Westley, and their sons Rex and Fox.  To this day, Andrea is still asked about her outstandingly delicious marathon bars, orange twists and sourdough bread.

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15 Responses

  1. What a wonderful “thank you” to the hard-working staff and students at Pioneer.  So happy that your son found a place where he could thrive — congratulations on all his accomplishments!

  2. Randall Smith Randall Smith says:

    As one who struggled almost every day at school including the pre clinical years of medical school, I can relate to youth having difficulty in a one size fits all learning situation.  And I know personally a dedicated teacher at Pioneer.  Our village is beyond fortunate to have this resource too few understand and appreciate.  Thanks for helping illuminate this topic.

  3. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    Alternative programs can work wonders for students whose needs go beyond regular school.  My niece competed in dressage — she was Number One in the nation in her age group — so her interests were riding and training rather than school.  She was a 4.0 student but was bored with attending a whole day of school.  She investigated alternative schools, found a program where she could meet weekly with a teacher for her assignments, finished them in an evening or two, and could work with her horse during the day and earn money exercising others’ horses.  She now has a degree in anthropology, has been on digs in Egypt and Peru, and is working toward an advanced degree.   Alternative school was absolutely perfect for her.

  4. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    “Continuation School” brings up as many definitions as there are minds to describe them. I know several dedicated teachers teaching, not only in this venue, but in a couple of others in the area. Let’s hope that in this case, continuation means a continued to service our community. What a beautiful, beautiful expression of support.

  5. Avatar KarenC says:

    Thank you Andrea…unfortunately I did have a misunderstanding of the school.  Not necessarily bad kids, but just kids who could not get along in other schools.  This clears up my thoughts and you said it all so beautifully.  We are so lucky to have Pioneer in our area.


    You have a very handsome young man and I wish him much success in  whatever he chooses to do.

  6. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    I learned more about Pioneer from Eric White, an industrial arts teacher at the school and member of my favorite North State band, The Buckhorn Mountain Stompers. I learned over time that I was yet another person with an entirely too limited view of the school.

    If Mr. White’s commitment to his students and passion for teaching is at all representative of the staff at Pioneer, it is a gem in the North State.

  7. Avatar Ginny says:

    Thank you for showing the community that there is so much good to come out of such a school as Pioneer Hi…..

    Congrats to you son.  He is proof of what can be done, if the powers to be work with the youth.

  8. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    :::blink blink blink:::

    I just had a veil of preconceived and erroneous ideas lifted from my eyes.

  9. Avatar Larry Harris says:

    I taught at Pioneer High for 26 years and loved it.  I have been retired for 7.  What a wonderful place it was.   I’m glad to hear that it continues to create positive learning experiences for students.  Congratulations to your son!

    ps.  I recently came across an old Record Searchlight clipping that included your marathon bar recipe.  Good stuff!  🙂

  10. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    Before I was hired at Mountain Lakes High School, the continuation school in the Gateway School District, I substitute taught at various schools in this area.  Pioneer High School was the one of the only schools I enjoyed visiting.  The staff  were friendly and helpful, and the kids were amazing in this important respect:  They took responsibility for their education.  They showed uncommon maturity.   They were too engaged in their work to waste time harassing a substitute teacher or engaging in the sorts of behaviors I had had to deal with at other schools.   Thank you Andrea for sharing this letter.

    Some students at my school came to us because of the death of a parent (missed too many school days because of shock and mourning), after a serious illness, after they returned for a year in Europe as an exchange student and hadn’t taken a American Civics class, because they were unrecognized Mensans who  were bored at the regular school,  or for a thousand other reasons.

  11. Avatar Cathy A says:

    As the mom of a “square peg” child, I am so grateful for letters like this and the variety of alternative education we have available in this community. Thank you sharing, Andrea. To all the teachers out there who work hard to include your outlier students, thank you. You know who you are.

  12. Avatar K. Beck says:

    “one size fits all” doesn’t work with clothing, either. All schools should be “alternative” schools. All the work with dyslexia proves that. School “systems” need a major overhaul from within. Not from some government agency that knows nothing about teaching, learning, or children…spent some time trying to teach. Couldn’t do it because I didn’t believe in the system. There shouldn’t be a “system!” It seemed to be totally working against everything I believed I should be doing. I found it to be totally demoralizing. Too many rules made up for the “average” student, of which there really are none. No outside the box allowed. The children who were able to learn, no matter what, made it through. The rest fell through the cracks. That seemed to be a high percentage to me, too high. OK, this brings up too many bad memories, I am done with this.

  13. P.S. Made my first batch of Andrea’s Marathon Bars yesterday — they are a huge hit! Thanks so much.

  14. andrea Charroin andrea Charroin says:

    Thank you to all who shared in the celebration of Pioneer High School (PI-HIGH) and the dedicated staff.  Last night the school held their graduation.  There were many moving speeches, excited students that received scholarships, and families celebrating their children who never quite fit in at school.  I am proud that this school is in our community and hope that Pioneer can be an example to all schools for what is possible to accomplish!

    P.S.  I am thrilled that the Marathon Bar is still kicking around!