HomeSchools & YouthGuardians of A Fine Institution | Rick Barclay

Guardians of A Fine Institution | Rick Barclay

Assistant Principal Rick Barclay and Principal Alana Fauré bring a unique blend of newness and experience to the front office of San Marino’s Huntington Middle School. Mitch Lehman Photo

RICK BARCLAY

New AP Wants to Tackle Bullying

The life of Huntington Middle School Assistant Principal Rick Barclay has been exciting, adventurous and full of changes, but a recent development will certainly define him more than all that have preceded.

Fatherhood.

Less than two weeks ago, Barclay and his wife, Kristina, welcomed Lilijana to the family, and the impact has been immediate.

“She didn’t sleep last night,” Barclay said with a chuckle and a yawn. “The first night that has happened.”

“Firsts” seem important to Barclay, who has taken a roundabout path to his current position that is quite unlike the typical administrator.

Barclay started out as a middle school teacher in Oak Park, an area that was recently affected by the Woolsey Fire, and that is where his education story begins.

“One of my students’ parents walked in one day and said ‘You would be a good administrator,’” Barclay recalled. “I said ‘thanks.’ The parent said ‘I am a principal.’”

That encounter took Barclay to Beverly Hills High School before he felt another tug from middle school. Answering that call, Barclay ended up in Culver City, where he spent seven productive years and is still connected to that community.

Barclay was recruited to serve as founding principal of a German international baccalaureate school until its high school program was dropped. His skill set matched the needs of a friend who launched a successful startup company and Barclay tossed his name into the hat when San Marino came calling. Or, possibly, when Barclay came calling on San Marino.

“I have a philosophy about where kids are going,” said Barclay, who spent four years in the United States Navy right out of high school. “Some of them are going to high-end universities and they feel that they are going to immediately get a job for $100,000, and they are not. I got it into my mind about how we can help students with entrepreneurial skills and how we can help teachers help students acquire those skills. It was very helpful for me to get involved in the startup, which have me the initiative to do this.”

“This” is the assistant principal position at Huntington Middle School, and it is, as he puts it, “a good fit.”

“I am loving it,” Barclay said. “I have almost instantaneously had a close connection with my co-workers and the community. I felt instantly supported here and very comfortable.

I have felt almost immediately to be at home. That is great.”

Barclay told The Tribune he also enjoys working for Principal Alana Fauré, whose almost three decades of experience in the SMUSD offsets his newness.

“She has really been wonderful,” Barclay said of Fauré. “She has been incredibly supportive. We share a lot and have similar philosophies, about the growth mindset and brain-based learning. Our idea is to coach students that you can change how you approach a problem and you are in control of your abilities. You can learn and improve.”

It’s an approach that is tailor-made for the mentality of a middle schooler.

“Kids would say ‘I can’t do it,’” Barclay explained. “The whole idea with the growth mindset is you add the word ‘yet” to that—I can’t do it yet! It’s about responding skillfully, mindfully, to what is going on. Step back. Take a breath.”

Barclay said that he and Fauré struck an almost immediate association.

“When I found out that Alana had a similar approach and after she heard me speak about that type of mindfulness at my interview, I knew we could work together.”

Barclay spent much of his first semester at HMS coordinating the school’s three outdoor education programs, the reminder of which elicited a hearty laughy.

“Planning and organizing those trips was a big challenge,” he said. “I am trying to create a formula that it can happen a little easier in the future.”

Facing a figurative midterm of his own, Barclay said his immediate goal is “to continue to improve next semester.”

“As far as being a first-year administrator, I think it’s important not to make waves,” Barclay said. “It’s a matter of working with Alana to see what we want to do. I would like to develop more relationships in the community and also develop a closer relationship with the Chinese community. It is something I want to do not for just one day, but throughout the school year.”

Another subject of interest for Barclay is bullying, some forms of which peak in the early teen years.

“Every school has its issues, especially when it comes to bullying,” said Barclay, who works with HMS’s Safe School Ambassador program. “There are a few things that I am surprised to see. This is something Alana and I would love to tackle.”

Barclay said he felt a boost in this direction recently when he returned from a short paternity leave.

“I looked at a log of some of the things that took place while I was out and there were some things I was surprised to see,” he said. “Horseplay that gets out of hand, Kids being excluded from certain groups. Kids this age are a little confused. They are trying to find themselves.”

He recalled his own journey, which he freely acknowledged was not always pleasant.

“When I was in middle school, I was in the special education class for math,” Barclay admitted. “Some of my classmates saw me walking out of that class and I got picked on because I was in a special education math class.”

“How about that,” he exclaimed. “And I became a math/science teacher. Maybe there is something there.”

Though Barclay could face more tossing and turning as a parent, his attention to the social malaise of bullying could men less sleepless nights for his students.

 

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