By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
WAYNESBORO — In 25 years as an educator, Dr. Sharon Barker spent 15 years as principal of Dixon Elementary and then Ware Elementary School in Staunton before coming to Waynesboro Schools last year and continuing to follow her passion.
“I love working with kids,” said Dr. Sharon Barker. “That’s when I get my fire. They keep you on your toes.”
Barker will be principal of William Perry Elementary School for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Barker agrees that educators can learn from students just as much as students learn from their teachers.
“I was blessed this year to work with some amazing students,” Barker said of serving as Intervention Specialist in reading at William Perry Elementary for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Barker, who grew up Buena Vista, is a graduate of Mary Baldwin University.
She said she knew in college that she wanted to become an educator.
“[Teaching] was something I enjoyed,” Barker said.
Before becoming a principal in Staunton City Public Schools, Barker taught 2nd- and 3rd-grade students.
Barker’s daughter is in 3rd grade at William Perry Elementary and her husband, Curtis Barker, teaches computer programming, physics and mathematics at Waynesboro High School.
The family lives in Fairfield. Barker also has a 22-year-old son.
“So, we decided we were going to be all together [at Waynesboro Schools],” said Barker.
Working with staff and students at William Perry Elementary the last year during a global pandemic has prepared Barker to serve as principal, she said.
“I think having that experience this year will give us that foundation as we hopefully move into post pandemic,” Barker said.
Her goals as principal will, of course, be to continue to provide top quality instruction for William Perry Elementary students.
“I also think we need to be purposeful in how we go about addressing those social and emotional needs of students,” Barker said of public education after a pandemic.
Students have been through 15 months of irregular school attendance: sometimes remote, sometimes in person.
Barker said she will “want to be sensitive to those social and emotional needs,” and that will be a goal for school systems across the U.S.
“The students — they’re the heart of the building. That’s what we come to work for,” Barker said.
Barker said she is “really excited” and blessed to work with the staff and students at William Perry Elementary.
“God puts you in the right place at the right time,” she said.
Barker is “just really looking forward to the 21-22 school year.”