Barnes to be honored Nov. 5

Barnes to be honored Nov. 5

FOSTER-GLOCESTER - A reception to honor Michael S. Barnes, superintendent of the Foster-Glocester Regional School District and recipient of the 2014 Rhode Island Superintendent of the Year award, will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Ponaganset High School.

The reception will begin at 6 p.m. and continue into the start of the Foster-Glocester Regional School Committee meeting at 7 p.m., when committee members will have the chance to compliment Barnes for his latest accomplishment.

The Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association (RISSA) announced Barnes' selection in August, as has been reported, and he is president-elect of the statewide organization, which he told the Breeze & Observer is "one of the central points of contact" for the state's school superintendents. He will take over the presidency in two years.

His specialty is technology, a particularly appropriate one at this period of time when, as he noted, even young children are becoming used to computer-like devices. He spoke of the need for "instructional change in how technology is taught" and how students are graded for it. "We are trying to be more thoughtful about our assessment of students," he said, referring to local educators.

Said Rhode Island Commissioner Deborah Gist in a statement, "Mike is a particularly good choice for this year's Superintendent of the Year because of his strong background and interest in technology, Innovations powered by technology will be an increasingly important element of our work this year and going forward."

Gist said Barnes has been a "true advocate" on behalf of students and educators and a "champion of school transformation." She noted that under his leadership the schools in his district - Ponaganset middle and high schools - "have made significant progress and are both recognized as 'leading schools' in the state."

Barnes has been superintendent in Foster-Glocester since 2008, previously serving as assistant superintendent in the district from 2005 to 2008.

As superintendent, he has focused on standards-based education, developed programs based on effectiveness, and created a Grades 7-12 STEM Academy for the teaching of science, technology, engineering and math.

He prepared local school budgets with zero-percent increases, as well as two budgets with decreases that still expanded services for students and absorbed cuts in state aid. The district's standardized test scores increased 12 percent in reading, 21 percent in writing, 18 percent in math and 19 percent in science since he has been superintendent.

He began his educational career as a technology teacher and later department chair at Ponaganset middle and high schools from 1996 to 1999. He then became a fellow working on selected matters such as high school reform for the state Department of Education from 1999 to 2005, when he returned to Ponaganset as assistant superintendent.

His four-page single-spaced curriculum vita indicates that there are few areas of secondary education in Rhode Island and New England that he has not been part of. He belongs to several regional consortiums and committees working on such issues as curriculum development and evaluation models, including the PARCC tests (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) that are slated to replace NECAP in the coming years. He has designed and implemented training for teachers and administrators on the PARCC exam.

He holds a 1988 bachelor's degree from Rhode Island College in technology education, cum laude, and a 1989 master's in industrial education, also from RIC. He received his doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Connecticut in 1998, concentrating on educational leadership and gifted and talented education.

Barnes and his wife live in Lincoln with their two children, who attend Lincoln public schools.

Kathryn Ritter-Smith, Barnes' administrative assistant, is in charge of organizing the reception Nov. 5 for him and anyone wishing to offer remarks at the event should contact her at (401) 710-7568. Barnes also will be honored by the American Association of School Administrators at the National Conference on Education to be held in Nashville, Tenn., in February.