GRAND LEDGE, Mich. — School bells will be ringing soon in Grand Ledge Public Schools, and its newest superintendent is ready for a great year.
"I lived here my whole life. I went to Greenwood Elementary school, Wacousta Elementary School, Hayes Middle School and I graduated in 2000 from Grand Ledge High School,” said Dr. Bill Barnes.
Despite his deep ties to the city, Barnes had no idea his journey would lead him back to Grand ledge.
“I studied engineering for a couple of years. And then, and realized that that wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," Barnes said. "I wanted to, I wanted a job that I would look back on and feel like I had, had impacted my community. I started looking at options for me, education began to be something I was interested in. And so I actually went and took a aptitude test, and education was towards the top of that as well. So I kind of saw that as a sign.”
From there, he began his education journey starting at Eastern High School as a math teacher to Charlotte High School where he started as an algebra teacher and ended up becoming the principal in 2011.
"In 2019, an opportunity came open here in grand lodge to be a part of the central office team here. And so it was a, an opportunity for me, not only to come back home to the place where I grew up, and to give back to my home community, but my family's here," Barnes said. "My wife is a teacher in the district and my kids go to school here. So being a part of the community where I lived, and being a part of the community where my my kids and family were was really important to me.”
From then on, Barnes worked as the assistant superintendent for academic services until unexpected news came this year of Dr. Marcus Davenport's sudden resignation due to health issues.
"First of all, I really enjoyed working with Dr. Davenport. He was he was a good leader for our district and a great person to work with. I learned a lot from our time working together." Barnes said. " I would have enjoyed continuing working with Dr. Davenport, for as long as he was able. So that, you know that that part of it is sad, obviously, that he had to transition on but from my perspective, the opportunity to come in, and to be able to sort of pick up where he left off. And having been in the district for three years, you know, I know the people I know the community, I know, the projects that we're working on. And so it's allowed me to transition into this role and just sort of keep things moving along."
Barnes plans to keep district traditions in place by continuing to have that academic and instructional focus and helping to make sure that kids learn and feel safe and affirmed and can achieve their goals. He also wants to ramp up his personal involvement in the community.
"As a school district, we have a lot of stakeholders. And but our most important stakeholders are our kids. There, we are all here to help make sure students learn and can achieve their goals," Barnes said. "Schools are human centered organizations, we're here for people. And in order to be here for people, we have to engage with those people. We have to interact with those people. And we have to authentically value the perspectives that they bring to the conversation."
Classes begin next Wednesday and Barnes will be present at each school throughout the week interacting with parents and students and plans to continue being present throughout the rest of his time as superintendent.
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