Kutztown School District welcomes a new principal, hires a new technology director and prepares for a new school year.
“We’re very excited,” said Kutztown Superintendent Kathy Metrick about welcoming Deborah L. Barnes as the new Principal of Kutztown Elementary School. “She’s thrilled to be here.”
Barnes started on Aug. 4. She had a chance to meet and greet students and faculty before the end of the school year and spent some time this summer getting ready for the start of 2014-15.
“She’s really excited and we really couldn’t be more pleased,” said Metrick.
Metrick described Barnes as very student oriented.
“She has a lot of creative ideas. She has a collaborative nature so she wants to work with teachers but she’s definitely also a leader so I think that’ll be a nice match.”
The “competent and confident staff,” as the teachers like to call themselves, at Kutztown Elementary, are a “truly gifted group of teachers,” said Metrick. “I think they will really appreciate the attitude she has to work with them.”
Metrick said Barnes has a broad back ground with some different ideas coming from Allentown where there are different needs. Her experience will “strengthen some of what we do and she’ll learn a lot from being in a more rural setting. I think it’s going to be a really exciting time.”
Barnes earned her undergraduate degree in elementary and early childhood education from Shippensburg University and a masters in educational leadership from Lehigh University. After college, she volunteered in the Peace Corps in Thailand, then worked for United Cerebral Palsy Association as an Early Intervention teacher in Philadelphia. Later she was a teacher and co-director at the Cooperative Nursery School, also in Philadelphia.
Most recently, she was a teacher, assistant principal, and lastly principal at Allentown School District’s Central Elementary School.
What brought her to Kutztown?
“I had been in Allentown for 12 years and was seeking an opportunity to serve students and families in a smaller setting,” said Barnes in an email interview.
What she likes about Kutztown School District are the welcoming people.
“It is one thing to change positions in a district where you have previously worked, but when you come to a new district, one has to learn the policies, procedures, and understand how things work. Every person in Kutztown has made me feel like they are there to assist me with this process.”
“I also appreciate the student focus that is at the core of the decision-making process,” talking about what she liked about the district.
Talking about what she likes about Kutztown Elementary, she said, “The staff I have met thus far are very passionate about their work. Every person who works in that building understands that they have a role in helping students be successful,” said Barnes. “I appreciate the surroundings and am excited about opportunities to engage the local community.”
Her goals are to continue to provide excellence in education for the students at KES.
“To work with staff to assure we are meeting the needs of each individual student and helping them move along their path of learning. I also believe it is our duty to engage families as partners in meaningful ways in their child’s education.”
Barnes looks forward to working with students, families, staff, and the community to prepare students as they become contributors to our global society.
“I have an open door, and hope families will take advantage of that to get to know me as I get to know them and their students.”
Barnes fills a vacant position left by former KES principal Tracy Blunt.
“She had an opportunity of a life time. She always wanted to teach at the college level,” said Metrick.
Blunt will be teaching and supervising student teachers at Penn State Berks. “It was her dream job.”
Metrick said district administration will remain in contact with Blunt in her new role.
Also, as of July 1, the district hired Chris Herrington full time as the new director of technology and innovative learning.
“That’s great. He already knows a lot of people in the district because he did consult with the district over the last two years so he should be able to hit the ground running and really move things forward,” said Metrick. “We’ve really missed that position and I think it’s going to make a big difference.”
Also, Metrick said the community should be aware that the school board is working hard to find ways to take care of the high school building.
“It’s a tired building. It has worked hard for many years and there are certain things that need to be addressed. We’re not in a position to replace the high school.”
Metrick said the school board has been creative in addressing the building’s needs “without costing the taxpayers huge amounts of money that will add a face lift to the high school but also address some underlying structural needs without building a new taj mahal. I give the school board a whole lot of credit for being willing to look at that in a different way.”
First day of school is Monday, Aug. 25.
“Students and parents should expect to come in ready to learn and ready to hit the ground running. It should be an exciting year,” said Metrick.
District staff, faculty and administration have been in trainings and conducting preparations all summer.
“We have people who are really focused on taking each student to his or her maximum potential. So I really think it’s going to be a wonderful time.”
Her biggest piece of advice for students at any level, K-12, is they all have to be active participants in their learning.
“They need to be totalling engaged. It’s not a matter of just doing what it takes to be compliant. It’s a not a matter of answering the correct number of questions for their homework. It’s a matter of actually thinking about what they’re learning and processing it and making that knowledge their own so they can use it.”