Who is this ‘Dr. Barnes’?

Willow Nelson, Staff Writer

Grand Ledge has a new superintendent. His name is Dr. William Barnes. He was voted in by the school board with a 6-1 vote as the new superintendent of Grand Ledge Public Schools on Aug. 8th. Barnes has worked in public education for 17 years. He used to be a teacher at Lansing Eastern High School and taught  at Charlotte High School before becoming their principal for eight years. Barnes came to Grand Ledge in 2019 as an assistant superintendent for academic services.

  “It is going really well,” Barnes said. “…the school board, students, families, and the community have been very supportive as well, so I feel like we are heading in a really positive direction. I am learning a lot every day, but having a great time as I do.”

  Barnes graduated from Grand Ledge High School in 2000. In 2005 he earned his Bachelor’s degree in English with a math minor and secondary education certificate from Western Michigan University.

While working with schools, he earned a Master’s degree in K-12 Administration and an Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership. Both degrees were from Michigan State University.

  “All of these experiences helped shape who I am as an educator and a leader,” Dr. Barnes stated. “In particular, I learned that educational leadership is about listening, seeking feedback, and making sure that all decisions are made with the best interests of students in mind. I also learned that engaging people in helping to make decisions that impact them (including students) is very important, as are celebrating successes, recognizing people’s strengths, and always keeping a growth mindset so we are constantly improving.”

  As a superintendent, he has many plans. The school board approved a strategic plan, which includes improving academics and programs, the learning environment, communication and community engagement, operations, and personnel, as well as leadership.

“I firmly believe that all students can learn, grow, and thrive, and we need to make sure that our district is set up in a way to provide equitable support so that all students have what they need to be successful while they are in school and after they graduate,” Barns said. “That means ensuring that we have a district that values students’ perspectives and identities and celebrates our diversity.”

  A topic that has been on everyone’s mind is when the high school construction will be complete. “This round should be done in late March or early April. There are some more projects slated to be completed at the high school in later phases, but those will be more behind the scenes with heating and cooling.”

  Now, on a more personal note, who is Dr. Barnes’ favorite musician? Well, he has many! Here is what Dr. Barnes said,

“I like a wide variety of music, and what I am listening to depends on what I am doing and the mood I am in. I enjoy classic rock, like Led Zeppelin, but I grew up in the 1990s, so I enjoy bands like the Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer… I also enjoy singer/song writer or folk music, with groups like Mumford and Sons and the Milk Carton Kids. Finally, I am not sure what category it fits into, but I have been a Jimmy Buffett fan since I was a kid!”

      Barns has lots of experience in teaching and leadership, as well as many goals to reach for better schools. The community is excited to see Dr. Barns work to grow the Grand Ledge schools.