Barker announces June resignation


Kristin Marzullo

Principal Paul Barker announced his June resignation Monday, Feb. 14. He accepted the position for president of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland. (Patriot file photo)

After serving 10 years as principal of JC, Paul Barker announced his resignation on Monday, Feb. 14.

Barker will leave at the end of this school year to become the president of Our Lady of Good Counsel  in Olney, Maryland. Barker will officially start his new position July 1, 2011.

“I have not looked for a job in ten years,” Barker said. “When we decided to go to a president principal model, which was over four years ago… I could have been the president, but I decided not to. I wanted to go for my doctorate, and I wasn’t ready.”

Barker found the position opening after browsing several job board websites.

“I had visited [Good Counsel] with Mr. Scholl back in 2003 or 2004. It has one of the oldest International Baccalaureate programs in the state, and I was interested in that,” he said.

Good Counsel is a co-ed Catholic school with over 1300 students.

English Teacher Dick Paaby and former Vice Principal Jim Long Barker originally hired Barker in 1990 as an English teacher.

“He was articulate, enthusiastic, and young, we needed young energy. I knew he would give a dimension that we didn’t have,” Paaby said.

Paaby feels that this is a good time for Barker to move on. “It’s the most natural moment for Barker to consider a new place, and the stars are aligning. It’s virtually irresistible, ten years is the right time,” Paaby said.

Barker most recently re-entered the English classroom when he substituted for current English Department Chair Susan Fisher in the fall.

“He has a passion for English Literature, is extremely analytical, and loves to see students get it,” Fisher said. “I think he’s fairly traditional.  He likes seminar discussion forms, he loves English. Students were very disappointed when he went from teaching AP English to being principal.”

When asked about Barker’s new position at Good Counsel, Fisher said “l I think it’s a great opportunity for him and a loss for us.”

“When the job came up, I thought it was a good fit for me,” Barker said.

In addition, the school is located about 10 miles from his wife’s parents’ home.

“I think I’ve made a move that’s professionally a good career move as well as a personal and good family move, and the timing is right,” Barker said.

“If it’s a good career path for him, I think it’s awesome. Maybe in a couple years the school might be different, but not right away,” senior Sam Donald said.

“It sounds like a good career decision, I hope it works out for him,” senior Dan Froehlich said.

Good Counsel is excited for Barker’s arrival in July. “We’re excited about his strong educational background and his strong spiritual background.  He also has a strong background in technology, and we’re very interested in that.  We’re exploring our technological needs,” Good Counsel Principal John Yore said

Before he leaves, Barker said that he still has work to do. “The plan is to run the good race to the finish… There’s a lot going on here, we have the strategic plan, and the wheels need to turn.  There’s some short term things on my desk that need to be brought to my attention I’m going to have to hire some new teachers. I have to find a new German teacher, and I need to hire a new Chinese teacher.”

A principal for the 2011-2012 school year has not yet been chosen, but an interim will likely take Barker’s place. “It puts JC in a bit of a spot, in terms of conducting a thorough search and having someone ready to go in July. It’s probably not possible so they will probably identify someone as an interim candidate so that they can have someone ready to go by December of next year,” Barker said.

According to the president-principal model established in 2007, President O’Hara will be solely responsible for the appointment of Barker’s replacement.

“I want to involve board members, faculty and staff, some parent representatives, and the students. I am very interested in student opinion. We will want at least a select few board members to meet with the last few candidates,” O’Hara said.

Barker said he is excited but apprehensive about the change. “It’s bittersweet, here’s the place I know. I’ve known some of the people for 21 years now. I’m not leaving because I think the grass is greener. I’m leaving for a neat career opportunity and have anxiety about how it’s actually going to go,” Barker said.

“I am very happy. He supremely deserves it both as a professional, as an educator, and as a person. It is definitely is a loss for JC,” O’Hara said.

“But it might be a good time for the school to have new ideas and somebody else’s energy,” Barker said.

Correction: English Teacher Dick Paaby and former Vice Principal Jim Long Barker originally hired Barker in 1990 as an English teacher, and not in 1991 as “The Patriot” previously published.

Allison Walczyk is the Section Chief for “The Patriot” and

Additional reporting by Hayley Boyle, Joey Hoff, Collin Hoofnagle, Jenny Hottle, Meg Kirchner, and Taylor Schafer.