Meet our new school principals

Barriere gets new principal for elementary, plus new principal and vice for high school

Gordon Cumming

Gordon Cumming

Principal Barriere Elementary School

This is Gordon Cumming’s 23rd year of teaching, at elementary and secondary schools. He served as vice-principal for two years at Lloyd George Elementary, three years at Westsyde Secondary, and was term principal at McGowan Park.

Cumming says he learned a lot at the secondary level, but really found out where his passion was, which is “with the little kids”.

Having lived in Kamloops for 43 years, the last 22 of those years with wife Susan (a public health nurse), and with their two children, Teghan and Jensen.

Cumming says the community of Barriere is no stranger to him, having spent many days over the years at the annual fall fair, visiting with friends at East Barriere Lake, and camping at Agate Bay.

“I love being outside,” said the principal, “I am a triathlete which involves swim, bike, run; I marathon run, and I love soccer and coach it as well.  I am a family person, and believe that family comes first.”

He notes that his “quirks” include; being organized, personal space needs to be respected, and that he has been an avid Chicago Blackhawks fan since age six, although he does cheer for the Vancouver Canucks as well.

Cumming says he has heard that Barriere Elementary is a “very well run school.  The teaching staff are dedicated, positive, and work well together.”

“My leadership style is to encourage that,” noted the new principal, “I look at staff as a team.  Team members have rolls.  It doesn’t matter who messes up – we are a team.  We will just pick ourselves up as a team, and celebrate our successes as a team.”

“Kids come first.  We adults have to work around that – they are our clientele.”

Cumming says he believes strongly in having an open door policy as principal.  “I want to be transparent.  I want to be positive.  I see the many benefits in being approachable.”

The principal says his focus will be on “what students need for learning, support and education”.  He believes that it is essential to continue with the successful Strong Start program.

When asked if Barriere might just be a stepping stone to another position elsewhere, the new principal said, “I am commited to being in Barriere as long as they need me.  I have no timeline.  The community and the staff here in Barriere have been more than welcoming.  It’s a great community with lots of pride.  I’m looking forward to being here.”

Ken Rife

Principal Barriere Secondary School

Barriere Secondary’s new principal says two of his first priorities will be to build on the strengths and programs already in place at the school, and to “get a feel for the community as a whole”.

Principal Rife was born and raised in Williams Lake, and has been teaching in the Kamloops area since 1997. He served as principal at Lloyd George Elementary, four years as vice-principal at South Kamloops Secondary, and also taught at Chase Secondary, Westsyde Secondary, John Peterson, and Logan Lake.

Rife lives in Kamloops with his wife Sheri (an English teacher at South Kam), and their children Everleigh and Grayson.

The principal says he is personally big on physical fitness and athletics, and is very much an advocate for sports, especially rugby and golf.

Looking at a September 2013 enrollment of approximately 170 students, the principal says, “I’m very excited to be here, it’s a real honour to be a principal at any school.  When a community has only one high school, it is a focal point of the community.”

He says he believes in being accessible to anyone who wants to drop in and talk.  “Anyone can stop by and talk about what is important to them; the curriculum, the culture of the school or the community.”

“Every school and every program is a different culture.  I believe in creating relationships, so I will be having focus groups with kids and parents to see what they want.”

Rife says hearing what the kids want directly from them is important to him.

“I want to hear it from them.  There are some really good things happening here at the school, and I want it to be a place where the kids actually like to come. I’m big on student leadership, and want to bring that in.  I want to create opportunities where students are collaborating, creating, and innovating their own programs.  I want to move into a more innovative approach if there is something they want to explore. But first I want to get to know the students.”

Rife says he has taught at eight or nine schools and he enjoys his job immensely.

“I really want to stay here for awhile.  My door is always open – come on in.”

Cory Carmichael

Vice-principal Barriere Secondary School

Barriere Secondary’s new vice-principal says he feels like he’s come home.

Raised in Darfield and McLure, he was a graduate of Barriere Secondary back in 1992.  His parents, Ann and Bruce Carmichael, were active members of the community, and were especially busy with the North Thompson Fall Fair, as his grandparents, Pat and Bill Stewart were founding members.

The vice-principal says he now lives in Kamloops with wife Holly (communications coordinator for the BC Cattleman’s Association), and their two daughters, Eden and Neve.

Carmichael says he started his teaching career off at two First Nations schools around Fort Nelson.  “My first school was a two story Atco special, with a brass bell and 13 kids from grade 2 to 7.  I also worked at a kindergarten to grade 12 school for nine years.”

Recently Carmichael served as assistant principal at a Secwepemc school for two years, and last year was acting principal at Kumsheen Secondary in the Gold Trail District.

“I’m very excited to be back in School District 73 and Barriere,” said Carmichael with a smile, “I previously spent a lot of time in the principal’s office here, but not in this capacity. I’m really looking forward to connecting with the community and this great school again.”

He notes the first priorities will be “… building relationships with students, staff and parents.”

Carmichael says that both himself and Principal Rife are excited about continuing on with the good work already done at the school, and building on it.

“We want to build a sense of trust, let students, staff, parents and the community get to know who we are, and encourage an open door policy, so people will feel comfortable stopping in to see us.”

“We have to be innovative and creative to get kids interested in school,” said Carmichael, “We want to build on the school culture, and have kids want to come to school, and like to come to school.  We want them to feel good when they come in through the front doors.  It’s important that kids feel connected where they go to school; it could be to the custodian, the bus driver, a staff member.  We want kids to want to be here.”

Carmichael says having a sense of humour, and being able to have fun in a good way keeps everyone coming back for more.


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