El Dorado County schools chief encourages children to follow their passion

Familiar Faces
By: Margaret Snider, Telegraph Correspondent
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Vicki Barber came to California when she was just out of high school, brought by the San Francisco Warriors to play professional basketball. She did for this for two years while attending San Jose City College. Barber ended up eventually with a doctorate in educational psychology. Now she lives in El Dorado Hills and has been El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools, an elected office, since 1994. She is on numerous boards, served as president of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association in 1998 and on their Board of Directors from 1997 to the present. She has been a member of the Governor?s Advisory Committee on Charter Schools since 2004. What would you say has been the source of your success in the field of education? Any success that I have achieved, has been as a result of the support I received as a child from family, loved ones, and teachers. I was very fortunate to have received an excellent public education and credit this country for providing a free public education to all youth. As my career has progressed, I would attribute any success to having a dedicated and committed team that is focused on providing a quality education to our children. When you were a child and a teenager, what did you expect to do when you ?grew up?? From a very young age I had an expectation that I would be an educator. I grew up from the age of 7 in Iowa and went to school for one year in a very small one-room school house. The next year, the school was consolidated into another school district and so I attended a more traditional school with a classroom of third graders. As I went through that school system, West Central, we had the distinction of having the first woman superintendent in the state. She was a wonderful person and an inspiration for me. Mrs. Baker set the bar for me that I knew I wanted to be like her and work with children and families in my lifetime. How can a person encourage the children in their lives to make the most of what they can be? I think that one of the things that is important to remember is to encourage children to follow their passion. Most of us put so much time and effort into a career, that it is critical that the choice of work be something we find meaning and purpose in completing. What makes you laugh? My husband, family, friends, and even strangers, all can make me laugh. I think the best times are when you share experiences and find the humor in the situation. How do you maintain your positive and optimistic character under the pressures of the current educational situation? I believe that the attitude of a leader will set the tone for the entire organization. We obviously do not have control over the issues that we face. However, we can control how we address those issues or the situations that are put before us by controlling our attitude. By staying positive I believe that we will significantly enhance our possibilities and opportunities to resolve the issue. What is the most difficult part of your job, and why? I think one of the more difficult issues we struggle with and one of the most important is to ensure that education is part of the entire community fabric. Expectations for schools have continued to expand with requirements that we address health issues, emotional concerns, as well as more extensive academic and career technical areas for young people. However, at the same time that the expectations have soared, resources have dwindled. Therefore, it is more critical than ever that a community join forces and that all segments of that community are included in not only the communication network, but also in the efforts to address the needs of our youth. If you could have a superpower, what would it be? I would love to have the power to ensure that all children grew up in a safe and positive environment both at school and home.