Pioneer Special Programs
Pioneer Special Programs classrooms are a way-point. Pioneer classrooms serve as a refuge for students who have severe emotional disorders that prevent them from succeeding at a neighborhood school.
Portland Public Schools established Pioneer in the late 1990s for students who have significant emotional and social challenges. The idea was and is to provide therapeutic support within an educational context in a way that enables students to return to their neighborhood classrooms. The program has dual purposes: To provide both education and mental health services to students who otherwise might have to leave the district to get appropriate services.
The mission at Pioneer is straightforward: Teach students real-world coping strategies so they can thrive and return to a less restrictive educational environment. Key at Pioneer is a low ratio of students to staff that includes licensed clinical mental health providers. Pioneer also has de-escalation rooms to help students gain control of their behavior in a safe space.
The program consists of six elementary school classrooms, five middle school classrooms, four high school classrooms and four functional life skills classrooms K-12. Each classroom is served by a .5 therapist, a certified teacher and at least two paraeducators. The classrooms typically have up to 12 students. These programs operate at several different school sites on multiple campuses.