It is an honor that few school administrators ever receive. And for Coweta County’s Smokey Road Middle School Principal Laurie Barron the selection as one of six national finalists for Principal of the Year came on the heels of her selection earlier this year as the 2012 Georgia Middle School Principal of the Year.
Barron was among the six finalists, three from middle schools and three from high schools, selected to represent the nation’s principals in the award process sponsored by MetLife Resources and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
“When Barron became the principal of Smokey Road eight years ago, the school of nearly 800 students was plagued by discipline problems, high absenteeism and low student achievement. By building trusting relationships and promoting shared leadership, however, Barron was able to restore confidence among students, teachers and community members,” said NASSP representative Bob Farrace. “Under Barron’s leadership, stakeholder input is highly valued; teachers receive meaningful professional development and leadership opportunities; and most importantly, students benefit from constant recognition, personal relationships with adults in the building and customized instruction based on data outcomes.”
Coweta County School System Assistant Superintendent Marc Guy agreed.
“Dr. Laurie Barron motivates her students and teachers daily and she is always moving throughout the hallways each morning encouraging students, listening to concerns and monitoring everything that takes place,” said Guy. “Today, Smokey Road is regularly recognized for its achievements. The diverse middle school, which made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for the last six years, was named a 2011 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School for being high-achieving while serving a large number of students in poverty. It has also received distinction as a Georgia Title I Distinguished School for the past four years. Laurie loves all her students and goes the extra mile to reach them.”
Barron was recently selected as the 2012 Georgia Middle School Principal of the Year.
The award is made each year by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP).
“We are very proud of Dr. Barron and Smokey Road Middle School for receiving this honor,” Superintendent Steve Barker said of Barron being one of six finalists for the national honor. “As I said when Dr. Barron was named state Middle School Principal of the Year, the credit for this honor goes to her, certainly, but also to the strong, high-quality faculty and staff at Smokey Road.”
Barron has served as the principal of Smokey Road Middle School since 2004. A 16-year educator, Barron taught English at Newnan High School for six years before becoming an assistant Principal at Arnall Middle school and moving to become the principal at Smokey Road. She earned her B.A. from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Administration and Supervision from the State University of West Georgia and both Specialist and Doctorate degrees in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota.
Barron currently serves on the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education Partnership Council and is an active member of the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals and the Georgia and National Association of Secondary School Principals and has recently served on the Governor’s Education Advisory Board for Principals. She has also received the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders Outstanding Middle Level Educator Award and the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals Exemplary Leadership Award. Barron is also a National Board Certified teacher and was Newnan High School Teacher of the Year in 1999 and Newnan High School STAR Teacher 2000 and 2001.
The search for the national principal of the year began in early 2012 as each state principals’ association selected its state principal of the year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists. The national middle level and high school winners will be named in September and recognized in Washington, D.C., during the Principals Institute for State Principals of the Year, September 19-22.
Barron and the other five finalists will each receive a $1,500 grant, and the two national award winners—one high school and one middle level—will receive additional grants of $3,500. The grants will be used to improve learning at the school (for example, a special school project and/or professional development opportunities).
The remaining finalists for national honor include principals from Iowa, Washington, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Oklahoma.