Dr. Mary Barlow speaks on the ethics of leadership

Mark Armendariz-Gonzales, Reporter

Superintendent Dr. Mary Barlow was hosted on a zoom call on Sept. 24, where she spoke on being a leader and her experience of being one. Dr. Barlow has been serving as the Kern County Superintendent of Schools since 2017, and with this title comes the responsibility of overseeing 47 school districts.

Dr. Barlow is not only active in public education but the community as well. She takes part in the Kern County Network for Children and the Kern Economic Development Council.

Born in 1962, Dr. Barlow said she was heavily influenced by her parents who taught her that “Your word is your honor.” This saying left a lasting impact on Dr. Barlow that she still lives by today. Eleanor Roosevelt also influenced her as a child due to her involvement with the civil rights movement.

Although Dr. Barlow looked up to many leaders growing up, she never aspired to be one. While attending CSU Bakersfield, Dr. Barlow started as a business major. However, during this time, she realized she found mentoring young people and helping them grow to be very rewarding.

After a change of heart, Dr. Barlow decided to turn her attention from business to education.

“The best way to make a change in others was to become a teacher,” Dr. Barlow said.

She started off as a teacher and worked her way up to being the Kern County Superintendent.

With years of leadership under her belt, Dr. Barlow was asked about the role of ethics when it comes to being an impactful leader.

“Ethics sets the boundaries to how a leader will operate,” Dr. Barlow said.

Although ethics are important when it comes to being a leader, they are not something you are born with, they are learned Dr. Barlow explained.

The first thing you must learn is “Who are you?” What is your purpose in life and how will you go about reaching it?

Once you find your purpose you then need to assemble a team. Make the team consist of people with common purposes. These people will give you feedback on your ideas and support you during tough times.

“Establish trust within your team,” Dr. Barlow said.

According to Dr. Barlow, three things you got to do when being a leader are “suit up, show up, and speak up.”

By “suit up” Dr. Barlow means you must do your homework and ask questions. By “show up” she means you must be reliable as much as possible. And by “speak up” she means you must be courageous and let your voice be heard.

Voice is a factor that has been extremely important to Dr. Barlow with her work as an education and community leader. When working on a new idea or project, Dr. Barlow holds focus groups and makes sure diversity is there so that all perspectives can be heard.

“It is important to find common ideas that everyone can buy into,” Dr. Barlow said.

Leadership takes up a lot your time, but you have to make sure to take care of yourself. A healthy diet, exercising, or just hanging out with family and friends are things that Dr. Barlow recommended.

“A leader needs courage and honesty,” Dr. Barlow said.