Unsung hero: Sandy Barry
Throughout your high school experience at BSM, it is likely that you will have the experience of having a substitute teacher, retaking a test, or struggling with one of your classes. Although you may not always interact with her, Ms. Sandra Barry plays a critical role in all of these.
Barry started at BSM working in the Alumni department in 2010, but found her passion for working with students just a few years later. “Two years ago, I decided to take a step back [from working in Alumni], because I had ‘teacher envy’; I wanted to work with the kids. This has been a really good fit for me. Switching from alumni to students—future alumni,” Barry said.
Unlike some employees at BSM, Ms. Barry actually has two job titles, which makes for very busy days. “I’m a paraprofessional on the student support learning team, and my other job is that I’m the substitute teacher coordinator. On a daily basis, I coordinate the subs for the teachers who are out that day, lesson plans, schedules, that sort of thing. I’m also the proctor for the quiet study program,” Barry said.
If students are struggling academically who are not in Learning Lab, and are getting below a C average, they get a chance to work with Ms. Barry. “I’m like your mom in school with you. I took courses on how to study, so I talk to you about your study habits. [I] try to keep you organized and on task,” Barry said.
Working with students is something that Barry truly enjoys, and she feels that the best part of her job is when she sees students succeed. “I don’t care necessarily if they get A’s, because not everybody is going to get A’s, but it’s really important to me that they feel good, that they feel like they are learning, and that they feel positive about school. It is really frustrating to have a kid be like ‘I’m stupid. I hate this. I can’t do this.’ So [I] take that kid and get him to a point where he’s like ‘Yeah, okay, I understand it.’ [I] get him the support he needs, get him some study tools that will help him—that’s the best part,” Barry said.
Unfortunately, despite her best efforts, Barry feels that sometimes it is hard to help students with extenuating circumstances impacting their academic performance. “Some of the kids who see me are struggling with other [issues] outside of school, and that’s impacting their performance here. There is only so much I can do, and it’s hard to watch a kid suffer; you don’t ever want to see somebody struggle,” Barry said.
Fortunately, Barry believes that BSM does a good job of rallying around students who are struggling. “I do feel like as a community we are aware and engaged. Our counselors and teachers are great, but there are still kids going through hard times, and that’s always hard [to see]. I guess it’s the mom in me,” Barry said.
Although a lot of her work is behind the scenes, Ms. Barry has a very significant impact on not only the experience of students at BSM, but also the experience of teachers. Being someone who is so passionate about her work, and works so hard to improve the BSM experience for everyone, Barry clearly exemplifies the characteristics of an unsung hero within our school community.