Getting To Know You

Shaun Barnett plans to learn more about community, school and students before making big plans as Cumby superintendent

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News-Editor

Feb. 17, 2008 - The finalist for the job of Cumby superintendent indicated he's looking forward to moving to the Hopkins County area, and plans to become familiar with the school and area before setting any big goals or suggesting changes for the district.

"I want to get to know the community and school, the kids and school, before making any final decisions. I want to make the transition as smooth as I can for the school and the community," said Shaun Barnett, selected by Cumby's school board as the finalist for the superintendent post. "I'm not completely sure on the timeline, but we're very excited. My whole family is excited about this change, meeting new people, a new place."

Barnett, currently principal at Paradise High School, said he hopes to continue the success at Cumby that he and his wife, a counselor at Paradise, have had. 

Paradise High School has seen improvement in its standardized test scores in recent years. The number of students passing all Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests rose 4 percent from 2005 to 2006, and another 1 percent in the last round of testing, with the strongest improvement in math and science.

Barnett said his goal is to use the school's curriculum to better prepare and equip students for life after high school graduation, whether it be college, a trade or work, or other life path.

"I'm looking forward to building a successful school -- not that I'm saying they don't already have one," he said. "I want to come in and help it move in a successful direction."

Barnett grew up in Plains in West Texas, a town not unlike Cumby in size.

He earned a bachelor of science degree from Angelo State University, where his oldest son currently attends as a freshman and where he wife also attended. He then earned a master's of science degree from Sul Ross University, and more recently obtained his superintendent's certificate from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Barnett started his career in education as a baseball and football coach and has "worked in small schools all my life." From his position as a coach, he  worked his way up the educational ladder to management. He worked four years at Mexia before accepting the principal's position at Paradise High School, a 2A school, more than five years ago. Utilizing his superintendent certificate was just the natural next step in the transition said Barnett.

Cumby Independent School District's trustees are scheduled to meet  Thursday, Feb. 21, when a 21-day waiting period required by law will end and they can officially hire a new superintendent. He could start as early as Feb. 22. 

Interim superintendent Gerald Gilbert said his last official day will be Feb. 29, which should give himself and Barnett a week to work together to better facilitate the transition.

Barnett said his wife and younger son, an 8th grader at Paradise ISD, likely won't officially make the move to the Cumby area until the current school semester is over. Ideally, his wife could put her counseling, curriculum and after-graduation preparatory skills to use as an employee at CISD or a nearby school. That's not something that's come up at this point, however. 

"We hope to work that out and find a fit. Things have a way of working themselves out," Barnett said.

He added that his plans for to settling into the community also include finding a new church family, and since he enjoys golf , he plans to check out the courses he's heard about in the area.

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