An "even-keeled" tough negotiator takes over the B.C. Teachers' Federation when president Susan Lambert steps down in June.
Incoming president Jim Iker is lauded as a man of integrity and a "steady hand," said Jason Karpuk, Kamloops-Thompson Teachers' Association president.
"And he's a bargaining chair, so he's used to negotiations and tough negotiations," he said. "He's very even-keeled."
Although Iker and Lambert have worked closely for the past few years, Karpuk anticipates a different approach once he takes the helm.
"He'll be able to express the decisions and not seem like they're an emotional decision or that they come from a point of anger or frustration."
Iker gained the seat by acclimation after Lambert stepped down.
Although she has mixed feelings about retiring, Lambert said she's confident about passing the role on to Iker.
"Jim is a very strong, kind-hearted and principled activist, a person of tremendous personal integrity," said Lambert.
The 60-year-old is a veteran Kindergarten and primary classroom teacher, school counsellor, learning assistance and special needs teacher. He holds an honours bachelor of arts degree from McMaster and a bachelor of education from Dalhousie.
As president of the Burns Lake District Teachers' Union, Iker negotiated one of the stronger local collective agreements in B.C., an agreement eliminated by Liberal legislation in 2002.
He has also acted as chief negotiator on the provincial bargaining team, served three years as second vice-president and another three years as first vice-president of the BCTF.
"I believe in leadership that is thoughtful, respectful and responsive," he said.
Despite his apparent differences, his key objectives remain familiar. They include achieving a fair collective agreement for teachers that restores class-size and class-composition guarantees, increasing classrooms resources and support for students, especially those with special needs and "restoring education funding to begin to bring B.C. at least up to the Canadian average."