Written by Mark Griffin
Friday, 03 October 2008 15:57
They call him Mr. Piv.
That’s short for Pivoriunas because, frankly, it’s much easier to pronounce.
Eastwood High School guidance director Richard Pivoriunas said he’s been called Piv since grade school, so it doesn’t bother him at all.
Even the guys in his garage band – “the elder beer men” – call him Piv. He plays the acoustic guitar.
“We just play every Tuesday night, a bunch of guys,” Piv said. “We open up a garage and whoever walks by, they get a chance to listen.
“I got involved because my kids played. When they would come home, instead of just talking, we played. We passed the guitar around. If you share music with them, the conversation goes until 4 or 5 in the morning.”
Piv knows a thing or two about kids.
He and his wife of 35 years, Colleen, a guidance counselor at Springfield High School, have three children of their own. Piv has been a guidance counselor at Eastwood for 23 years, so in effect he has had hundreds of other parents’ kids coming to him for advice.
“I do it one week at a time,” he said. “It just adds up. You always seem to have a project that’s not finished. Some kid you have interest in, you try and say, ‘I wonder how it’s going to end up.’ Like right now, I have a couple of sophomores who are off the charts as far as academic ability and you wonder what they’re going to be doing.
“You just like to get them as much information and prepare them as much as you can so they can make their own decisions of what they want to do. You make sure they take the right tests and look at the right schools they should be exploring.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes to get where I’m at. When you’re starting out as a counselor you’re not aware of things like timeline and responsibilities. You go through those and you don't want to make those mistakes again.”
Piv, who used to coach the Eastwood baseball team, said he likes the constant change in his position. He said he likes the “not knowing what’s going to happen” aspect of it.
“Every day is different,” Piv said. “It could be classified as an emotional yo-yo. One kid may come in jumping up and down because he got a scholarship; another kid just got kicked out of class; another one just got kicked out of his home. You can't get too high or two low on this job. Young people, who knows what's going to happen with them.”
To be in Piv’s position, he generally has to like young people. He’s been counseling teens since Ronald Reagan was president, so how have kids changed?
“It’s not that much different,” Piv admitted. “We’re working on this at school now. (Superintendent) Brett Welker has the 'Enterprise of One' idea, where kids have become more responsible for themselves.
“At Eastwood we have a group of international students. When my parents were going to school, their responsibility was to get through school, get an education and go to work locally. Probably in a factory. When I went to school, it became regional. You could go get a job in the Midwest.
“When my kids were going to school, it was a national responsibility of education. You made sure they could go anywhere in the country to get a job. Today, it’s a global responsibility - the competitiveness in the marketplace. Our goal is to make our kids competitive anywhere in the world.
“The expansion of the responsibility is the difference from local to regional to national to global. There is a lot more pressure on our kids.”
Piv said Eastwood has schooled more than 50 exchange students from more than 20 countries. Those students, Piv said, have shown Eastwood students how competitive education really has become in the 21st century.
“They come in and do a great job in the classroom,” Piv said of the exchange students. “They all speak English, and their math skills are very good.”
Piv was the head baseball coach at Eastwood from 1985-97 and won three league titles and one district championship.
Before that, he coached baseball at Delta High School for 12 years and was the baseball coach at Owens Community College from 1987-2002.
His Owens team once placed third in the nation in Division III, and the Express took back-to-back OCCAC championships in 2002-03.
“It was a good run,” Piv said. “When we went from a Division III to a Division II program, our playoffs went from weekend series to a Monday through Friday run. When that happened, I was missing five days of school in May and our superintendent (Bill McFarland) said, ‘I’m happy for you, but not real happy.’ I wasn't retired at the time so I had to make a call and step down as Owens’ coach.”
Piv is just the second head guidance director Eastwood has ever had. The first was the late John Eaken, who served in that position from 1964-85.
“John Eaken was a great counselor who touched many lives in the Eastwood district,” Piv said. “He reached out to kids who were struggling. He did everything he possibly could to make sure that kids graduated. He thought outside the box in doing that.”
Piv was an East Cleveland kid who graduated from the former Cleveland St. Joseph High School. He went to the University of Toledo and played baseball and defensive end on the Rockets’ squads that went 35-0 from 1969-71.
Piv graduated in ’71 and figured he would either go to law school or become some “big-time coach.”
“I was a pretty cocky young coach,” he said. “I applied for football coach at Delta High School at 25 and they said, ‘Would you rather be a guidance counselor or a football coach?’ I said I wanted to be a football coach and they said, ‘Well, we’re going to make you a guidance counselor.
“I’ve been a guidance counselor ever since. It’s been worth it, no doubt.”