Welcoming a New Coyote to the High School Pack


Christian Tillard

Patricia Goolsby poses with the Combs Coyote located outside the principals office.

Christian Tillard, Photo Editor

Maybe you’ve seen her out on the courtyard during passing periods, while you’re at lunch, or in the classroom trying to learn about the school. Meet Dr. Patricia Goolsby, a dancer, a teacher, a mother, and the newest assistant principal at Combs High School.

Goolsby aims to learn about the new environment of the school, its surroundings, and the students themselves.

“When you first come to a new school, you want to learn about the school,” Goolsby said, “So I like asking students questions and finding out from them because we’re here to serve the students here at the school. The first part of my goal is to try to learn as much about the school.”

When choosing to come to the high school, she enjoyed the size of the student population and family between everyone.

“One of the really neat things about this high school is that it’s a newer high school,” Goolsby said, “I actually knew the first principal for the high school when she was in a different school district. The school here, I like the size of the school. It’s not too big [compared to other schools]. I tend to line the smaller school because you actually get to know the students. The other thing about Combs that makes it really special and unique is that they’re community schools, it’s the school for this community.”

This position isn’t new to Goolsby, having former positions at other schools, as well as having an inspiration for teaching.

“I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was 10, my friends and I, and even my sister who was older than me would get together and I would always be the teacher,” Goolsby said, “In high school, I actually started teaching at my [dance] studio, and then sometimes let me teach when she had a substitute. I left high school knowing I was going to Arizona State University, where I was a dance major then I started teaching at a private, IB, boarding school in Sedona called Verde Valley School with 125 kids. So I stayed there for my first two or three years before moving to Saguaro High School, staying there for 23-24 years.”


It wasn’t until 2007 that Goolsby became a part of the administrative side of schooling.


“After teaching, I moved into administration, starting as an assistant principal at Mountain Pointe High School, then Westwood as an academic intervention assistant principal, and before retiring, I went to Tempe High where I served as the principal.”


In fact, Goolsby’s background heavily involved going to many different schools.


“It’s really interesting with school, coming from a military family,” Goolsby said, “We moved a lot. I went to 12 or 13 different schools through my education career because whenever my dad moved, we moved. School was always the constant so no matter where we went, I knew I was going to school. When we were in Japan, I knew I was going to go to school. In California, Massachusetts, Arizona, wherever in Hawaii, I knew I was going to be in a school, but it was different amongst the locations. So, I learned to adapt and I loved being at school.”


Compared to last year, Assistant Principal Scot Schmidt has been eased on his campus responsibilities with Goolsby taking over.

“[Managing athletics and activities] was very hard and time consuming. It tickles me that we have her now and you bet it makes things a lot easier,” Schmidt said.

“I’m really excited because I’m helping out with activities,” Goolsby said, “When I was a teacher in high school, that’s where my experience was because I was a high school dance teacher, the cheer coach, the hockey team sponsor, and those things. So I’m very passionate about students getting involved in something at the high school, and Mr. Schmidt, he focused on all of it before I came, so he’s had to do all of the activities plus all of the athletics, which is huge. And so I’m here to try to help him out.”

Not only does Goolsby work at the high school, she is employed as the principal for the Combs Center for Success.

“The position to come here was to be able to work part time here at the high school, but it was also to start the Combs alternative school program, which is where I spend half my day as well,” Goolsby said.

During our times of dealing with COVID-19, Goolsby makes a goal to enforce the active policies put in place at our school to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“I think our biggest goal is to try to be as normal as we can with the new normal, because I think student voices were heard that they want to come back to school,” Goolsby said, “So my goal right now is to remind students to hold on to the promises that we’ve made to wear your mask and social distance. I know you’re excited to see your friends but we can’t let it down.”

If there’s one way to win Goolsby over, it’s definitely doing the right thing around her.

“I think knowing someone’s intent and knowing that they’re going to act in good faith,” Goolsby said, “I love to see opportunities for students to take a leadership role and to make a difference in the community. And I think that student voice is important too. But it has to be selfless, not selfish. Winning me over is probably service, selflessness, and passion.”

Goolsby encourages students to progress in life through high school and their education.

“Without your high school education, it makes life hard,” Goolsby said, “For the average student who wants to go on in their next steps, getting a high school diploma is important. Though, graduation isn’t all about them but also their parents. It’s this rite of passage that we celebrate, saying you made it, and they made it. You have all these possibilities but as you don’t, doors start to close if you don’t finish all your credits.”

Goolsby is really ecstatic about this year and being able to get out to the events that we put on as a high school.

“I can’t wait for stuff to start happening so that I can go to a football game, a dance, a show, or whatever happens on campus. To learn the campus and talk about the heart of the high school and all its pieces,” Goolsby said.