Del Oro's Terry Barker honored for his role as activities director

High school instructor earns Spirit Award for Northern California
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Most people, especially high school students, like to feel included and part of something bigger than themselves. A Del Oro High School staff member was recently recognized for helping students, teachers and staff feel a part of the school. Terry Barker, activity director, was awarded the Bob Burton Spirit Award from the California Association of Activity Directors at their March convention in San Diego. Barker received the award for the Northern California district that stretches from Stanislaus County to the Oregon border. According to the association, the award “is presented to a person who makes spirit work, who makes a positive difference and who emphasizes inclusion with all students and members.” Barker was nominated by Ron Jones, who developed Del Oro’s leadership program during the 17 years he served as the school’s activity director. Jones retired in 2002. Jones said of Barker, “He’s outstanding. I really respect his belief in student leadership. He teaches the kids to be leaders and allows them to take that role.” In nominating Barker, Jones wrote, “Terry involves students in decision making, planning and leadership roles to cultivate a positive, supportive culture … He works diligently to promote an exuberant, classy, vibrant Golden Eagle spirit on campus and throughout the community.” Barker said he was “humbled” at receiving the award. “I knew Bob Burton. He was an amazing man. He was one of the founders of CADA,” Barker said. Barker has served as Del Oro’s activities director for nine years and has instructed two leadership classes for student government members. Those students plan school and class dances, assemblies, rallies and activities. “Everything they do has a purpose – to connect people. Their job is to put the spotlight on others,” Barker said. According to Barker, student leaders have the job of creating the “culture” on campus. “You want to create a culture where students feel a part of something larger than themselves and where they feel safe. We don’t want them to have to worry about being bullied or not being included,” Barker said. Barker said the leadership program “is about experiential learning. It’s a student-run program.” “We have amazing student leaders. My goal is for the year to take on their personality,” he said. Senior Bryn Bacharach, 18, is student body president and a leadership student. Bryn said Barker is personable and welcoming to all students. “Mr. Barker lets the students run the program. Every year it’s different. He’s willing to let change happen,” Bryn said. Although Barker said he loves his job, he is ready for a new challenge. In January, he began working part-time in the school’s counseling department. He turned one of his leadership classes over to Stephanie White, a former leadership student who is now a teacher. Barker hopes to eventually become a counselor full time. White is a 2002 Del Oro graduate and daughter of athletics director Monty White. She earned a masters degree in leadership curriculum development and is now teaching a physical education class, along with the leadership class, at Del Oro. White said she is excited to be back at the school teaching leadership. She said Barker has been her mentor and he was “very deserving” of the award. “It’s time for someone else with new ideas. Jennifer brings in the technology component. I’m absolutely going to miss it, but it’s going to be nice being in a support role instead of in charge,” Barker said.