Superintendent Wayne Barker will lean on Northwest Allen County Schools’ elected leaders as he sets goals for the district.

And that should happen soon. Barker told the five-member board on Monday that it’s on his to-do list for his first three months.

“I know my success here, a large part of it will come – especially for this year’s success, at least – will come from the success I can have in the first 90 days of establishing myself as superintendent,” Barker said.

Barker, whose contract began July 1, replaced longtime Superintendent Chris Himsel, who retired from the role June 30.

Each 30-day block within the 90-day plan has a different focus, Barker said. He shared a photograph of someone being sprayed in the face with a firehose to illustrate his first few weeks.

“I feel like I’m drinking from a firehose, but I know that’s a normal part of the transition,” Barker said. “I’m learning from everyone.”

Barker said he needs to spend as much time listening to everyone as possible, not just the district’s 8,000 students and 1,100 employees but other stakeholders who love and are invested in NACS. He invited people to contact him as he shared his district contact information and Twitter handle, @NACS_Supt.

“I do want to be available,” he said.

Ron Felger, board president, said in a phone interview Tuesday that Barker’s willingness to talk isn’t an act.

“He truly is open to anybody,” Felger said.

For his second month, Barker wants to learn about the district’s culture. This will involve learning how things work, such as meetings and communication with various groups, such as employees and families.

Barker will devote the last phase of his 90-day plan to goal-setting.

“I’ll be relying on you to help me establish those goals as we move forward,” he told the board. “I know we’ve got a lot of pressing needs.”

Felger, whose tenure has included the hiring of four superintendents, couldn’t recall a previous superintendent presenting a plan to the board like Barker did.

“It’s just really great for the community that he has a plan,” Felger said.


Reporter Ashley Sloboda has covered education for The Journal Gazette since 2016. A Fort Wayne native, she has 15 years of experience at newspapers in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.