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New elementary principal gears up

Jennifer Barbaree recently took over as the principal at Lonoke Elementary School. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)Buy Photo
Jennifer Barbaree recently took over as the principal at Lonoke Elementary School. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)

Jennifer Barbaree, 32, former administrator at the Watson Chapel school district, is the new Lonoke Elementary School principal.

Originally from Pine Bluff, Barbaree graduated from Watson Chapel High School. Following high school she attended the University of Central Arkansas where she received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood. Barbaree went onto Harding University where she received her administration degree. She is currently working on her Educational Leadership Specialist Degree at Harding, which should be complete by the spring.

Barbaree said she has taught at several different school districts, due to her husband coaching career. She said her first experience as an administrator was at England, where she served as principal, while the principal was out on medical leave. During her second year at England she served as assistant principal before moving onto the Watson Chapel School District where she served as principal for two years at Edgewood Elementary.

Barbaree is married to her high school sweetheart, Brandon, who is the head football coach and athletic director for the Carlisle School District. They have been married 12 years and have three children.

According to Barbaree, her son Brent, 11, will be a sixth-grade student at Carlisle this fall. She said he attended Carlisle last year, so they felt no need to pull him from the Carlisle School District.

“He loves sports,” Barbaree said.

Their middle daughter, Brynnlee, 7, will be a second grade student at Lonoke this fall.

“She likes gymnastics and softball.” Barbaree said.

The youngest daughter, Baxley, 2, is a typically two year old, according to Barbaree.

“Baxley is a blast,” Barbaree said. “She makes me happy and smile.”

As for herself, Barbaree said she enjoys reading, exercising, activities with her kids and playing sports, particularly basketball.

According to Barbaree, they are a very busy family. She said they stay involve a lot of sports and “lots of football.”

“But we love every minute of it,” Barbaree said. “I also think it’s good that Lonoke and Carlisle don’t play each other. It would be hard to root for one or the other.”

With her husband already working in the neighboring district, Barbaree said accepting the job at Lonoke was not only for the opportunity, but for her family as well.

“Coming here was definitely for family,” Barbaree said. “But I feel like everyone here is just as driven as I am.”

When it comes to her job, Barbaree said she is driven. She said she is very excited about the opportunity to work for the district and believes her goals, as well as the goals of Superintendent Suzanne Bailey, are one in the same.

“We are a perfect match,” Barbaree said. “Lonoke is a wonderful opportunity. It’s a great district to be apart of.”

Since working in the school and meeting teachers, Barbaree said she is beginning to get more excited about the upcoming year and the people she will work with. She said since stepping into the new building she has found teachers who are proud of what they do. Barbaree said the teacher seem to be open to new ideas so she is looking forward to sharing her knowledge on Common Core, instructional practices and to bring some of her views to the district.

“They already have great things going to them,”Barbaree said. “I just want to make it better.”

Barbaree said she does not plan to make any major changes in the upcoming year. She said the school will continue to build on test scores and provide more professional development.

At this time, Barbaree and her family will reside in Carlisle. She said they are renting there, but are looking in the area for a permanent place.

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