Kate Barker 2021 Principal of the Year

Community  /  Employees  /  News A portrait of Principal Barker in the foreground and a photo of her sitting with students in the background.

Cherry Park Elementary Principal Kate Barker has been named a National Distinguished Principal, which makes her Oregon’s 2021 Elementary Principal of the Year.

Craig Hawkins, Executive Director of the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA), made the surprise announcement April 13 during a virtual and tear-filled meeting of David Douglas elementary principals. It is a joint award presented by COSA and the Oregon Elementary School Principals Association (OESPA).

“Kate Barker is a remarkable educator, leader, and fantastic human being,” said Gerry Flock, OESPA President and a principal in Medford who also congratulated Kate following Hawkins’ announcement. “Never have I observed such an effective leader who also possesses the personable characteristics that exude compassion and genuine interest in every person she meets.  Kate is a gentle leader that people clamor to follow.  You want to work alongside her. I consider it a privilege to call her my friend and colleague in the most important occupation in the world – growing young children. Congratulations Kate on a most-deserved honor.”

Most of our elementary principals consider Barker to be a mentor, and they heaped congratulations on their colleague following the announcement. The statewide award is a great capstone to an amazing career in David Douglas. Kate Barker will retire at the end of this school year.

She came to the David Douglas School District in 1991 as a grade 4/5 teacher at Cherry Park, where she taught for the next six years. She showed leadership skills from the beginning, serving as acting Principal at Cherry Park one day a week during the 1995-96 school year.

The following year, she was named a Teacher on Special Assignment, serving as districtwide Language Arts and Title I coordinator. In 2004, Barker was elevated to Principal at Mill Park Elementary.

In 2009-10, she was tasked with leading a temporary, kindergarten-only campus at North Powellhurst, before becoming Cherry Park’s fulltime Principal the following year.

“Kate Barker is an amazing educational leader who is a true asset to Cherry Park, the David Douglas School District, and the education profession,” said David Douglas Superintendent Ken Richardson. “Put simply, Kate is a champion for students. She motivates, she inspires, she leads, she cares for and she always has a focus on what is best for students. The relationships she has built with her teachers, her families, and the Cherry Park community are unmatched. Kate is a leader that continually goes above and beyond and is a true servant leader. From student achievement to family engagement, Kate has developed amazing systems to serve and support her community, and through it all Kate leads with a big heart and a passion for her students. Kate is an excellent and deserving selection for the 2021 Oregon Elementary Principal of the Year! Congratulations Kate!”

According to Director of Education Andy Long, “Kate’s positive influence at Cherry Park is simply unmatched. Not only does she know the name of almost all of her students, Kate can even tell you the student’s teacher, their academic progress, and she never fails to add a special comment unique to that student. Students beam when they see her in the hallways and in virtual classrooms. With all that said, what truly sets Kate apart is when you have the opportunity to observe her interact with every person that walks through the doors of her school. Whether it’s a preschool student or a volunteer grandparent, she greets them with a warm smile, by name, and with genuine excitement…100% of the time. I could not be more thrilled that Kate Barker is the 2021 Oregon Elementary Principal of The Year.”

Kate Barker is the latest David Douglas school administrator to receive a statewide award during the last few years. Ericka Guynes was Oregon Elementary Principal of the Year for 2013-14, while Duane Larson (2014-15) and Taye Spears (2020-21) have received the statewide Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year award recently.

Congratulations to Kate Barker!