Robert Barker

Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence
Oklahoma Mentor Day

Robert Barker

STARBASE Oklahoma 2.0, Department of Defense, Lawton Central Middle School

David Stacey, deputy director of STARBASE Oklahoma, cited Robert Barker’s central role in helping organize the 2.0 club at Central Middle School as being one of the reasons he was selected as Outstanding Mentor of the Year.

“He has helped students understand expectations and become excited about STEM activities,” Stacey says.” This is in large part due to Mr. Barker’s leadership abilities.”

Barker, who teaches eighth-grade language arts classes, has helped many students struggling to bring their dreams to reality by encouraging them to “design, build and refine their projects,” Stacey says. “He understands the value of true teamwork and is committed to inspiring those students to greatness.”

Barker has worked alongside his mentees building greenhouses and studying how plants develop and what they need to survive on Earth, as well as on Mars. He also helps them build and create their projects and, says Stacey, has actually directed them in the building of rocket motors, along with the rockets themselves.

Shayla Washington, STARBASE teacher and 2.0 mentor assistant, also lauded Barker for his broad knowledge and expertise in different science disciplines, including electrical engineering, physics and rocketry, and for his ability to present a detailed and engaging mini-lecture to students on short notice without preparation.

“Mr. Barker is an outstanding and unique mentor who totally engages students with his leadership and passion.”

Stacey agrees. “Mr. Barker is the type of teacher that students love,” he says. “He is able to gain their respect in an amazing way; laugh and joke with them; and keep them excited and engaged.”

Barker calls his experiences mentoring in the STARBASE Oklahoma program at the Lawton school one of the most rewarding things he has ever undertaken because of the students’ ardent desire to learn, to explore and to develop themselves. “I get to work with people who genuinely care about what they’re doing, and even though it can be stressful at times, it’s an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

About the Program: STARBASE 2.0 combines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities with a relationship-rich, school-based environment serving at-risk youth in fifth through eighth grades. The program uses a team mentoring approach, pairing teams of three to four students with one adult mentor for four hours each month.