Return to Headlines

Chief Operations Officer honored for Career and Technical Education contributions

Randy Gooch Award

Chief Operations Officer Randy Gooch was honored by the Missouri Council of Career and Technical Education for his contributions to Career Education.

Gooch previously served as CPS' director of Career and Technical and Adult Education for five years prior to his current position. He has more than 25 years of experience in education and has filled a variety of roles, including serving as a teacher, counselor and as the director of the Hart Career Center in Mexico, Missouri, before joining Columbia Public Schools.

Gooch also served as a commissioned Army officer, operation manager for Wal-Mart Private Fleet, and owned and operated a custom millwork company.

Gooch holds a bachelor of science in industrial technology from Truman State University, a masters of education in counseling from Western Kentucky State University, a masters of education in school administration, and an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from William Woods University.

As a staunch supporter of Career and Technical Education, Gooch exemplifies the qualities necessary to further the mission of CACC in “preparing today’s learners for tomorrow’s careers”. His leadership propelled CACC and Columbia Public Schools into the national spotlight, as the school implemented Technology Centers That Work school improvement initiatives and implemented gold standard Project Based Learning (PBL) in all CTE classrooms.

Further, Gooch’s influence goes well beyond CACC and Columbia Public Schools, as he regularly proves himself as a voice for quality CTE in Missouri and across the country.

Gooch Award PhotoOne of the first things Gooch did as the director of Columbia Area Career Center was the submission of the grant to bring Technology Centers That Work to Columbia. Having been chosen as a new TCTW site in Missouri, his leadership helped guide CACC in several focus areas to bring improvement to the school. One of the greatest impacts was the implementation of Project Based Learning at CACC. His initial vision and persistent high expectations saw the center implement PBL in all programs in the first year of training.

According to Marty Sugerik, the SREB training consultant who provided the primary professional development and coaching, CACC was the first school he had worked with across the country in over 15 years to accomplish this rapid implementation of PBL. In year two, national recognition came in two forms.  First, CACC was selected to write a case study on PBL implementation which was published by SREB.  Project Based Learning: A Formula for Rapid Results.

Second, CACC was selected as SREB’s 2017 Outstanding Technology Center That Works Site.

Gooch spared no time in making a mark on CACC and Columbia Public Schools by influencing continued growth in CTE programming in three primary sites across the school district. He expanded the administrative team to include a strategic communications director, who assisted in re-branding CACC, which was the primary inspiration of Gooch. His renewed focus on the mission, vision, and core values of CACC fueled local and national attention through social media and press relations. CACC’s efforts in marketing caught the attention of the State CTE Advisory Committee, which has invited CACC to collaborate with them to aid the development of a statewide marketing effort for CTE (fall 2017).   

Gooch also successfully added an assistant director to support CACC functions and create stronger connections with the practical arts department, a separate career education component within the school district. Gooch also redefined a guidance position into a dual credit coordinator to expand the dual credit opportunities for students.  Many successful initiatives were realized because of the support and trust he placed in this expanded administrative team to implement his vision for CTE in Columbia Public Schools and our sending school districts.

As a past president of MCCTA, Gooch continued the call to influence CTE in Missouri. He has regularly served on advisory committees and focus groups to influence policy at the state level. Gooch worked with teachers, the NEA stipend committee, and district administration to develop a new CTSO stipend system that significantly compensates faculty for CTSO work.

As COO, Gooch has advocated for a revitalization of the current CACC building, which resulted in a $24.5 million renovation and construction project that is currently underway and scheduled for completion in the summer of 2025.

Gooch has also positively impacted his colleagues across the state by advocating for and helping to plan high-quality professional development at MCCTA conferences. Those who know him will agree he is always bold in speaking his mind and advocating for quality policy and programs to support the students in Columbia Public Schools, the CACC sending schools, and colleagues across the state of Missouri.