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Elena Barton retiring from School District after 31 years


June 21, 2016

ELENA BARTON, student services director, is retiring on June 29 after 31 year in the Sweet Home School District.

Elena Barton is retiring from the Sweet Home School District on June 29, after 31 years, but she won’t be going out to pasture.

She said she has no plans of joining her husband Dean out on the ranch they’ve had for 24 years.

“We have a clear separation of duties in our house,” Barton said. “And no, I won’t be helping him with the cows, but I will probably do a little bit more gardening and that sort of thing.”

She plans to work on her house – “do a little remodeling and dejunking,” pay more attention to exercise and spend time with her 3½-year-old granddaughter.

Barton has two children, Max, 27, and Lily, 19. Both went through the Sweet Home school system.

“I was the principal to both of them,” Barton said. “With my daughter, it was fine.”

With her son, it was sometimes challenging.

“One time he was talking about how his favorite principal was Mr. Winslow and I said, ‘Do you remember that I was your principal too?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I remember that,’” Barton said with a laugh.

“He didn’t have to talk further,” she said. “I knew what he meant.”

Barton has held varied positions in the three decades she has worked for SHSD.

She was hired as a school psychologist. She did that for three years and was promoted to director of Student Services.

“When I first got hired, it was a full-time Student Services position and I was full-time for, I think, six years,” Barton said. “Then I did my half-and-half with the small elementary schools.”

While she said there was a four-year period during which the director position went back to full time, it mostly has been a half-time position.

“At Crawfordsville, I think I was there for 12 years,” Barton said. “So it was half time principal at Crawfordsville and half time student services director and then Holley, I think I was there three years. I was there when we closed down Crawfordsville and then consolidated all the staff and students from Crawfordsville to Holley into one school building.”

Some of her fondest memories were made during her time as principal, she said.

“Being the principal of an ele-mentary school is really a fun job,” Barton said. “You get lots of hugs, you get paid to be out on recess duty just to play with the kids. It was wonderful.”

Being in the director’s position has been rewarding too, she said. But the rewards have been a little slower coming: putting in programs, setting up processes, working with parents and making sure that their needs were being met.

“All the special programs for students are coordinated through this office, but the big one is special ed,” she said.

While she said she enjoyed her time as principal, Barton is proud of some of the programs she helped put in place as a director.

“Over the years we’ve developed more resources for those kids (who have trouble in a regular classroom),” she said.

Whether those changes have come about after parent or staff complaint or Barton’s own observations, she’s not sure.

“I remember going into a regular classroom, a regular fifth-grade classroom, and seeing an intellectually disabled student trying to read a geography book with the rest of his class and I just thought, ‘That just looks painful to me,’” Barton said. “‘It just does not look appropriate,’ and then we started investigating and developing a more appropriate resource for that student and I think that was the beginning of our PALS program which is our Practical and Academic Life Skills program.”

PALS is the program at the ele-mentary school level for students with intellectual disabilities.

The junior high and high school have basic life skills programs.

Even with these programs in place, there are still situations that Barton must address with parents.

“I listen very carefully to parents because I do appreciate parents as advocates for their kids and when there’s something amiss, I want to try to figure out what’s at the bottom of it,” Barton said. “Sometimes there’s not much we can do. We can maybe do some minor things that might help.”

She doesn’t think parents are complaining just to complain, she said.

“I try to get to the base of the issue and see what can be done and I think usually, most of the time, things get resolved pretty satisfactorily for parents,” Barton said.

At the end of June, that responsibility will transfer to her replacement, Jennifer Sedloc, of Jackson Hole, Wyo.

“It probably will really hit me when I see the school buses drive down the road and I don’t have to worry about being in school,” Barton said.


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