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First female principal after 97 years of men

4:03 pm September 14th, 2012

By Shannon Hirska
Contributing writer

Ashley Barker and Mike Clancy, Eatonville High School’s new principal and vice principal, respectively, chat with one of their students, Braden Ames, while he takes a break from his job as a summer groundskeeper at the school. (Eatonville School District/courtesy photo)

The 2012-13 school year promises to be a year of change for Eatonville High School. New administrative staff and a shift in grading philosophy should position Eatonville as a leader in educational direction in Washington. Ashley Barker will be stepping into the role of principal at the high school. She feels honored to be the first female principal in the 97-year history of EHS.
Barker was assistant principal for the past two years, focusing on supporting teachers’ work in collaborative teams, attendance and engaging struggling learners in the school process.
Barker believes in reciprocal accountability. To her, that means (quoting Patty Maxfield of the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership), “We can’t expect our school leaders to do what the district won’t do, and we can’t expect our teachers to do what our school leaders won’t do, and we can’t expect our students to do what our teachers won’t do.” Barker has been in education since 1998. Prior to her service at Eatonville, she taught in the Puyallup School District for five years in special education. She then moved to Shanghai, China and spent three years as a learning specialist/admissions director in community outreach. After returning from China, Barker spent three years in the White River School District as a transitions specialist, working with students ages 16 to 18 on employment skills. Barker’s education includes a degree from the University of Washington, with a masters in leadership and policy studies, and principal certification through Danforth, a program focused on increasing academic achievement for all students with an emphasis on equity and social justice in education. Barker lives in Tacoma with her husband John Parker, director of instructional leadership in the Puyallup School District; daughter Lainey, who is starting kindergarten this fall; Gus, who will be in pre-kindergarten, and step-son Lorenzo who will be a senior at Bates Technical High School.
Lainey commented “I think mommy should be the principal,” encapsulating the support Barker receives from her family Barker enjoys cooking, professional development classes, going to the YMCA with the family, movies at the Grand Cinema, and travel – especially going to Germany during Christmas. Mike Clancy will joining the EHS team as assistant principal/academic dean. He has a varied professional background which has included coaching, teaching math, filling the dean of students role at Auburn Mountainview High School in the Auburn School District, and serving as principal at the elementary, middle and high school levels in the Auburn district. Clancy also has experience with Washington state assessment administration, professional development strategies, response to intervention training and standards implementation, all of which are hot topics in the Eatonville district. Clancy received his bachelors degree in communication studies from Seattle University, following up with a teaching certificate from Northwest University in 1996, with endorsements in secondary mathematics, English and speech. In June he earned his Washington Principal’s Certificate from the University of Washington-Tacoma. His former supervisor, principal Terri Herren of Auburn Mountainview High, noted that he is a good teacher, an instructional leader and has excellent relationships with students. EHS students involved in the interview process confirmed that Clancy is approachable and interested in the students.
Interviewers found him personable, ethical and hard-working and believe he will be ready to support teachers and students at EHS. Clancy lives in Auburn with his wife, Kerry, and daughter, Hannah. Kerry teaches third grade.
Clancy is an avid camper and also loves college football and follows Notre Dame fanatically. Other passions of his include a fascination with helicopters and motorcycles. Former Eatonville High principal Garth Steedman has moved to the Eatonville School District administrative office to take over the role of business manager/director of human resources. Cathy Bryant, after serving the Eatonville District in this position for nine years, has retired. EHS staff continues to develop skills in teaching, assessing and reporting student progress. Part of this process includes the development of a standards-referenced report card. Some of the teachers will be piloting a new reporting system that will focus on communicating what standards (course-specific concepts) students are expected to learn in each class and how students are performing in relation to the standards. Students will be given opportunities to demonstrate what they know or what they have learned after being given feedback from their teachers. Additionally, reporting progress against the standards will provide parents with information about how they can assist their students. As the 2012-13 school year progresses, Barker hopes to incorporate her personal educational beliefs into the fabric of EHS: “Each child can and has the right to learn at high levels given the opportunity, access, and a conducive environment to do so. Learning and growing responsible citizens will be at the heart of what we do every day.” Barker also expressed her appreciation for the School Board, which has been analyzing student data and creating goals based on that information.
“This sends a powerful message to our staff and our community of what our purpose as a district is and what our leaders and teachers are expected to do,” she said. “Starting at the top, we are creating a growth culture that will impact student achievement in Eatonville.”

Shannon Hirska is a secretary for Eatonville High School.

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