Ms. Barclays Endless Adventure

carolyn Bailey

Ms. Barclay is easily one of the best teachers at IHS. From teaching us about whales and giving us cookies after a difficult week, she has won the hearts of everyone of her students. Former IHS student, Taylor Clapp said, “She was literally my second mother when I was in highschool. She helped me with so much more than just school work. [I] will always appreciate her.” So what makes Ms. Barclay the teacher that we know and love? This article answers that question!

I had the privilege of being able to ask Ms. Barclay a few questions about her life and experiences to get to know more about her. Ms. Barclay is from Ohio and stayed there in her younger years; she went to Ohio State and studied biology. She also went to Cornell and Studied Marine biology. She said her childhood was a little difficult.I was picked on for being small and uncoordinated,” she said when asked about her elementary school years. That is definitely something hard to hear from someone you have only known to be pleasant and supportive of all people. Luckily, she reassured me that high school was “much better! I had a strong group of friends and was taking interesting classes.” It was a good change in pace. 

When asked about what she thought her biggest accomplishment in life was thus far, she said, “I think the fact that I was able to leave Ohio and the only life I knew. My family was not supportive of my wanting to study whales. Yet, I persisted and followed that dream anyway. My Grandma believed I could do it! I am thankful for that!”  The dream of studying whales seems like an odd thing to come from someone who did not grow up near water. “I didn’t even see the ocean until college,” she said.  However, she explained to me how her love of whales and the ocean originated when asked about a formative life experience. “In 8th grade, Mrs. Mehock had our class research whales. I asked her a question, and she didn’t know the answer! Up to that point, teachers always had the answers! It inspired me to go to the library and take out every book on whales and the ocean. I had them all spread out in the hay loft in the barn, which is where I went for privacy in a large family. That changed my life.” That was where it all began for Ms. Barclay.

Despite her best efforts, the field she decided to pursue had challenges. Science based professions, even to this day, are usually male dominated. Ms. Barclay saw this first hand when she was working in Maui years ago. “While working as a researcher in Maui, I was up against some sexism by the female professor leading the team. She only wanted the women recording the data. Other roles on the team were sighting, reporting out behavior, and taking photos. Because I took readable and accurate data, my time on the inflatable zodiac was looking at a clipboard the whole time! I never had a chance to work the other roles. One day, the other three male members of the team donned their snorkel gear and were playing with a humpback calf on the side of the boat. I got frustrated and put the clipboard down to also join in that close encounter. I was meant to write down data by the seconds so putting down that clipboard was a big rebellious move for me! But I leaned over the side of the boat at the bow and lost my balance. I fell out of the boat and onto the calf! I was completely embarrassed and the story has made me notorious in the research community,” she said. The significance of this to her was not just the memory of falling on a baby whale, but more importantly, helped her understand how to handle conflict better, “Looking back, I wish I had been able to talk to the professor about my frustrations instead of just acting out! I think that humpback calf would have agreed!” she said. 

Although teaching was not always her dream, Ms. Barclay loves teaching and she is happy that she is doing it.  She says that the students are the reason she loves what she does, “They are the light and the reason we do what we do!” Her journey at IHS started with just a teacher’s assistant job. She first worked with Ms. Chandler in one of her chemistry classes and Ms. Barclay had nothing but nice things to say about that experience, “Getting to know her and watching her teach inspired me to try it! I left to teach at Wakefield for a year, but was thrilled to come back to IHS when there was an opening! It is a very supportive working environment and we all laugh a lot! 

Ms. Barclay may have seemed to have settled down from her adventurous days but when asked what she was looking forward to in the long term and short term future she explained something unexpected, “I am looking forward to working in Alaska this summer! I love to learn about new ecosystems and species. I will get to work with Orcas which I have only seen in the Atlantic Ocean once.” So this summer Ms. Barclay’s summer vacation is going to consist of frigid weather and harsh currents all the way up in Alaska, but she couldn’t be happier about that getaway. Ms. Barclay inspires us with all of her stories and future plans to never let go of dreams that may seem out of reach.