GUY — Timothy “Tim” Barnes retired from his 14-year career with the Arkansas Department of Education and will now take on the role of high school principal in the Guy-Perkins School District.
The Clinton resident has 32 years of educational experience under his belt as he bids goodbye to his Standards and Assurance Unit specialist position with ADE. Before working for the Arkansas Department of Education, Barnes worked at other small school districts in the state.
He was the elementary principal for the Shirley School District from September 1999 to June 2006 and worked as an elementary teacher from May 1998 to September 1999 in the Ashdown School District.
Heading into the 2020-21 school year in the midst of a global pandemic, Barnes said he will strive to put an emphasis on mental health.
“I think the mental health part of this next year is going to be as important, and to some degree more important, than academics,” he said, noting he would be expanding mental health resources available to students and provide additional training for faculty. “That’s going to be one of the things we’re going to be looking at district wide … we’re just going to have to get as much professional training as we possibly can.”
After school ended abruptly in the spring and with many students (along with their families) maneuvering through the decision to attend on-site instruction or instead learn from home through the virtual academy, Barnes said it’s imperative the school’s educators know how to take time for each child’s needs.
Being in a small district puts the school at a unique advantage when it comes to ensuring every child’s needs are met, he said.
“You can either be a number or you can be a name,” Barnes said. “If you choose the Guy-Perkins School District, [your child] will have a name and a voice in their education. That’s what we’re going to expand on. Small schools are unique learning labs. You get to do things in your school that larger schools cannot. Larger schools have more money, but they don’t have that personal connection. We have that personal connection with our parents and with our community.”
Guy-Perkins Superintendent Joe Fisher said he believes Barnes will provide a strong voice and meaningful leadership for the students at Guy Perkins High School.
“We are truly excited about having Mr. Barnes as high school principal for 2020-21,” Fisher said. “Not only will his previous experience as a principal in a small school and his experience at the Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) serve him well in Guy-Perkins, but his desire for students to be successful and his willingness to ‘do whatever it takes’ to help our high school staff will be a great fit for us.”
As the district strives to be a “school of choice” in Faulkner County, Fisher said that Barnes’ drive to expand student programs will help build on the district’s educational foundation.
“Our district vision is to be the ‘school of choice’ and Mr. Barnes brings a wealth of experience from DESE that will help us build high school programs so that students in Guy-Perkins and in Faulkner County will choose to learn with us,” the superintendent said.
Barnes has worked with students in kindergarten all the way up through those in their college years.
The Clinton resident said he is passionate about education and ensuring students have a leader who cares about them.
As the school year nears, the small-town high school principal said he will expand opportunities for students to learn “beyond the high school curriculum” whether they choose to learn on-site or from home.
Barnes grew up in a family that placed a strong emphasis on education, he said. Both is parents were educators who adopted Barnes and his twin brother, Thomas.
The incoming principal graduated from Ashdown High School in 1982. Upon his graduation, he served about 12 years in the U.S. Army Reserves. He and his wife, Rita, married in 2000 and have three children: Alyssa, Lilyann and Evangeline “Eva.”
Alyssa is a senior at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and is studying industrial engineering. She is also the cadet coordinator for the school’s Air Force ROTC.
Tim, who is also a Clinton city council member, and Rita adopted Lilyann and Eva from Ethiopia. The girls attend Clinton Public Schools, where their mother is a first grade teacher.
With a hefty background in education, Barnes said he hopes to provide Guy-Perkins with stability.