IROQUOIS – On the last day of the 2016-17 school year, the Upper Canada District School Board announced another round of administration appointments.
Eric Barker takes over as vice-principal of Seaway District High School at the start of the 2017-18 school year.
Barker, who lives in Cornwall, is a new hire to the UCDSB.
He comes to this board from a seven years stint with the Ahkwesãhsne Mohawk Board of Education where he taught Grade 7.
He has a background in special education and was a learning-resource coach with that board, splitting his time between schools on Cornwall Island and Snye, Quebec.
Barker previously taught at the Renfrew County Board of Education, but his teaching career has taken him to Northern Canada where he taught Grade 6 in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, on Baffin Island.
This is his first posting as a vice-principal.
He is completing his Masters in Education at Queen’s University.
“I am excited to come to Seaway,” Barker told The Leader. “I heard a lot about the community when I was in school to become a vice-principal. I am really happy to be here.”
He added that he was impressed when he learned about the rally last winter when Seaway was under consideration for closure by the UCDSB.
“That was a thousand people in a community of 10,000, supporting their school. That is amazing. Where I have seen kids flourish is where there is community support.”
Barker sees his background in native education as an asset moving to Seaway.
“Student collaboration and community-based learning are things I have worked with,” he said. “It’s important that students see themselves in what they are learning,” he said. “When they are connected to what they learn, they thrive.”
Barker said he is looking forward to working with the students and teachers in the school.
“I can’t wait to start the year and work with everybody.”
Barker takes over for Tania Stover, who departs Seaway for Rideau District High School in Elgin, a similarly sized school.
Stover served as vice-principal at Seaway for two years, arriving at the start of the 2015-16 year from Rothwell-Osnabruck.
“The school has not just the support of the community around it, but of the families in it,” said Stover.
She highlighted events at the school like Hay Day and the Seaway 50th reunion.
“The first time I saw Hay Day I didn’t know what to expect, but it was such a unique event. It was great.”
“The 50th was a huge event,” she said.
The Seaway 50th had a personal connection for Stover beyond her role of vice-principal.
“My mom was in the last graduating class of the old Iroquois High School. I felt really lucky to be here when this happened.”
When asked what she thinks makes Seaway unique, she said “the whole celebration of rural culture at the school.”
Stover pointed to the Specialized High Skills Major program in agriculture, with the training and involvement in the community and area industry as a strength.
“The school is packed full of smart, kind and funny kids. It is really something special. I am going to miss it here.”