The superintendent of public schools in Pennsylvania, J.P. Wickersham, recommended Barkley for the position of principal in December, 1871. His term began on December 20, and it was understood to be a temporary appointment until a permanent successor could be found. His time in office lent stability to the school, with increased enrollment and more organized finances. In March of 1872 it was mentioned at a trustees' meeting that Barkley wished to return to his law practice and that the Rev. John Hewitt was willing to serve as principal. The board immediately elected the reverend to the post as permanent principal and expressed their gratitude to Barkley for taking over when his help was needed.
After the end of his term as principal of BSNS in 1872 Barkley left
the field of education entirely and devoted his full attention to the practice
of law. But he did not forsake the school entirely, because on May 3, 1875
he was appointed a member of the BSNS Board of Trustees and served until
his death on October 10, 1900.
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