Beginning in August, Ms. Erica Barbakow will be moving to the Dean of Students role in the Upper School, along with continuing to teach AP Lit English classes. Previously in the role was Ms. Allison Riley, who will become the new World Language Department Chair. The Dean of Students is a well-respected job that works with all the class deans to provide support and discipline to the students. “I do discipline in the grand scheme of things, but I look at it more like support for the deans and institutional knowledge,” said Ms. Riley. “If the dean is the interested aunt, then I might be the interested grandma over everybody.” As another aspect of their job, the Dean of Students governs the Honor and Discipline committee, helping out with hearings and assisting the students. While this may seem intimidating, Ms. Barbakow wants to ensure that she is here to help the students. “I know the role certainly is seen more as like the hammer by the students and fellow faculty members, but I hope that it’s not only viewed that way,” Ms. Barbakow said.
As the dean for the class of 2019, Ms. Barbakow feels ready and prepared for her new role. “I’m really excited to get back in the room with colleagues, and I miss that camaraderie and being with those people,” she said. Ms. Barbakow also is ready to get back to working with all the students throughout the school, as she has not been able to this year as an English teacher. “I’ve really missed knowing the majority of the student body this year, so I’m hoping that I get to know everyone outside of the classes that I’m teaching.” Ms. Barbakow also believes that her organization skills will enable her to succeed in this job. “I’m really organized, so in terms of the nuts and bolts of this job like managing tardies, attendance and parking, I think that I have strengths with organization that will help keep those systems in place.”
In addition, while many people expect many changes to be made next year, especially with the dress code, Ms. Barbakow ensures that it will not be much different. “I am not looking to come in and change a lot of things,” she said. “Pace is a great place and an awesome, nurturing community. I hope that as we embark on the next school year together, students will take the opportunity to form relationships with me, and that it’s not just when things are not good.”
Similar to Ms. Barbakow, Mrs. Riley also feels ready and prepared for her upcoming change. “I’m really excited to go back to thinking about how best to teach language to kids and help them feel like they enjoy Spanish,” Mrs. Riley said. “My ultimate goal is always that my students can travel somewhere and they could be the point person who can communicate for everybody.” Since she has been a Spanish teacher for many years at Pace, she feels comfortable with the program and ready to lead it after Mrs. Cappy Lewis. “I have some really big shoes to fill,” said Mrs. Riley. “She’s been a great mentor.”