Two revered teachers, Duff Pace and Mike Baird, are retiring from Enterprise High School this June. Together they have an aggregate of 71 years teaching in Enterprise classrooms. “They have been supremely effective at understanding and motivating students,” said Principal Blake Carlsen. “They will be sorely missed.”
Pace began teaching history and social studies at Enterprise 39 years ago. But his time at the school really began 51 years ago when he entered first grade. Pace graduated from EHS in 1975, then returned as a teacher after getting his teaching certificate at Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University) in Monmouth in 1979.
Pace taught social sciences in the high school—similar to what he’s teaching today—modern problems, American government, psychology, and later on U.S. history and world history.
“I really enjoy making the connections. Each component in history you can look backward to see the event that may have triggered something or set the stage for what we are currently experiencing. To understand WWII you need to understand WWI. I lecture more in a story capacity.”
Pace has always encouraged discussion and even debate in his classes. “My premise in class discussions is that it’s OK to disagree. I want my seniors to take an active part in their community, be a voter. I encourage my students to share their concerns, but understand that if I disagree with this other person I should still respect them as an individual.”
Biology teacher Mike Baird arrived at Enterprise High School 32 years ago in 1987. He was looking for a rural town where he could teach economics, practice forestry, hunt elk, and backcountry ski. Wallowa County checked all the boxes.
“I was living in Moscow, Idaho, and working in the Bitterroots. On my way out to the field, I stopped at the University of Idaho placement center and saw an advertisement for an economics teacher at Enterprise High School. I already had a horse loaded up and I was thinking, Man, if I have to apply for this, I have to go home and fill out forms and get a disk, write a cover letter, and send it all in. That’s a couple of hours of computing, and that will really put me into camp late.”
Baird started down the road. When he reached a junction where going right took him to his camp, and going straight led back home to apply for the job, he stopped. “I sat there for a good minute, just thinking,” he said. “Then I went straight.”
Both Pace and Baird agree that technology, especially the Internet, has provided the greatest change to education during their careers. “When they introduced computers to the classroom I remember thinking “Oh man, do I really need this goofy thing in here? Now when the power goes out, I think I can’t teach.” Pace said.
“When people ask me what it’s like to teach in Enterprise,” Baird said, “I tell them that our kids are delightfully naïve even though they think they’re pretty worldly. They are really good kids. They have solid community values.”
“I think seniors are a little more engaged now than they were when I started teaching,” Pace said. “Many students have a lot of maturity in their understanding of national and international issues.”
Both men will miss teaching. Pace and his wife plan to travel with their newly acquired 5th wheel. Baird will delight in his newfound freedom, and plans to go with his daughter on a 22-day Grand Canyon float trip, and set up a hunting camp and spend as long as he wants to there. He’ll also raise more bees.
“Working with young people, you get sort of an infusion of energy and silliness and optimism,” Baird said. “I’ve looked forward every day to coming to school. It’s been great.”