After three decades in Tigard-Tualatin, Barb Proctor leads her last THS graduation

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Barb Proctor served as a PE teacher, coach, athletic director and associate principal in Tigard-Tualatin. She was interim principal in 2009.On Barb Proctor’s desk at Tigard High School, a small digital clock is counting down the days to her retirement.

And with 19 days to go, it’s fast approaching.

“It’s getting scary,” said Tigard’s longtime associate principal. “It’s coming up.”

Proctor’s last day at the school is June 30, ending a 33-year-career in education that has spanned from cross country coach to interim principal.

It’s not uncommon for teachers to stay at a school for several years, but Proctor has spent her entire career in the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

“I did my practicum work in 1979 at Fowler when I was a junior in college, and I did my student teaching here in 1980,” Proctor said. “Literally, I have never done anything at any other district. How weird is that? I don’t know anybody that has done that.”

Proctor organizes Tigard’s yearly commencement ceremony, and after years of watching students graduate to the next phase of their lives, Proctor said it was time to join them.

“I didn’t want to be one of those people who should have gone but didn’t,” she said. “I wanted to go when I was still effective and still enjoyed it. I want go out on a high note and not a low note.”

‘Small enough to care’

by: TIMES PHOTO: DAVID BLAIR - Barb Proctor addresses graduates before Friday nights Tigard High School graduation. She retires this year after 33 years in the Tigard-Tualatin School District.Proctor said she never had any desire to transfer to another school district.

“It has been like home, really,” Proctor said. “I’ve met so many amazing people, and I have true, lifetime friends who I met in this district. That is the hardest thing to walk away from.”

Tigard-Tualatin is special, Proctor said.

“There is something about this district that is like family,” she said. “It’s big enough to have resources, but small enough to care.

“Portland Public is a machine, but here we have people in positions to get things done, but we are small enough where everybody kind of knows everybody.”

Proctor, who lives in Rock Creek, said she has a stronger connection to Tigard than to her own community.

“I’ve always worked in Tigard. Even in college, I was a checker at Tigard Fred Meyer,” she said. “I’ve worked my entire life in Tigard. All my ties are to Tigard.”

Proctor began her career as a physical education teacher at Fowler Middle School in 1981. It was the career she always wanted, she said.

“I knew I wanted to teach PE and coach since I was an eighth-grader,” Proctor said. “I was one of those kids who knew immediately what I wanted to do. I never didn’t know.”

At Fowler, she worked alongside a young Ernie Brown, who would go on to become superintendent in 2013.

Proctor’s long hair and Brown’s good looks brought them the nickname “Barbie and Ken.”

She came to Tigard High School as a cross country coach and PE teacher in 1992, and was named athletic director the following year.

“I’ve probably spent the most time on this campus on the track,” the former head cross country coach said. “I have hours and hours on this track.”

‘I love this job’

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Barb Proctor, Tigards associate principal, said her favorite spot at the school is in the stadium, where she can enjoy a beautiful view of Mt. Hood and the schools campusProctor has been the school’s associate principal since 1998.

It’s a tough job. Proctor is in charge of most of the school’s disciplinary measures. She oversees the school’s programs to help struggling students and is in charge of the school’s security.

Proctor served as principal of the school in 2008-09, after then-principal Jon Schuhl resigned after he was arrested for driving with a suspended license.

But through it all, Proctor said she wouldn’t have done anything else.

“I love this job,” she said. “I’ve never watched the clock. I’ve raced the clock, but never watched it, and I have never been bored. How many people can say that about their job?

“It has taken me awhile to figure it out, but I’m more comfortable behind the scenes and supporting what goes on. I like having enough power to get things done, but I don’t need to be ‘the guy.’”

Proctor hadn’t planned on becoming associate principal.

“I just fell into what happened,” Proctor said. “I went for the ride, and I don’t have any regrets.”

Send off

Barb Proctor has a long-standing tradition of organizing Tigard High School’s commencement ceremony. The yearly outdoor celebration — which was held Friday night at the school — is her piéce de résistance.

Proctor said she takes a lot of pride in the yearly ceremony.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment, seeing those kids walk out,” Proctor said.

And the parents enjoy it, too.

“It’s such a personal ceremony,” Proctor said. “They would probably revolt if we tried to move it from the school.”

Proctor has been a good luck charm for the Tigers. Since taking over the graduation ceremony 15 years ago, it has never rained.

“I’ve had it rain sideways at rehearsal, I’ve had it be cold at rehearsal, but never rain on the day,” Proctor said.

About five years ago, she began to notice familiar faces in the stands at football games and graduations.

“I would look in the stands and think, ‘Oh my God, I know those people.’ They were former students of mine, who now had kids in high school of their own.”

Proctor said the ceremony is in good hands.

“We have a lot of great people who come together. It’s a team effort,” Proctor said. “It will be fine without me. The show will go on.”

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