OPEN HOUSE: Meet Dr. John Barnett, Corinth High School’s principal

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Dr. John Barnett will return to Corinth High School as principal this school year.

He previously served as principal of Corinth High during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years and spent last year as central office administrator for Corinth School District.

Before joining the district, Barnett was principal at Anniston Avenue Elementary School in Gulfport from 2016 to 2019 and assistant principal at Long Beach Middle School in Long Beach from 2014 to 2016.

While participating in the Principal Corps program at the University of Mississippi, Barnett was an administrative intern at Corinth High in 2013 and at Iuka Elementary School in 2014.

He recently earned a doctorate of education from Vanderbilt University. He’s previously earned an associate’s degree from Northeast Mississippi Community College in 2005, a bachelor’s degree in social studies education from the University of Mississippi in 2008 and a master’s from the University of Mississippi as part of the Principal Corps program in 2014.

Barnett is proud to serve as an administrator for such an innovative district.

Corinth School District is entering its seventh year operating with a modified calendar, often referred to as a “year-round calendar.” Classes begin during the last week of July and there is a three-week break at the end of September/beginning of October, along with traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks and a two-week break in mid-March.

The district is one-to-one with technology, meaning each child has their own MacBook, and students flourish in the classroom and in extracurricular activities ranging from band to baseball.

“Our community really supports our educational system here in Corinth,” Barnett said. “They expect a lot from us, but they are very supportive and we appreciate that so much with everything that our community does to support us and value education here in Corinth.”

Q&A

What was your favorite subject in school?

“I was always a big fan of history and social studies. I really just enjoyed learning about our past and learning our history. That was always my favorite. I also enjoyed English as well, with the writing and stories we covered in our literature classes.”

Did you have a favorite teacher? What made them special?

“I’ve had a lot of really impactful teachers, but I would narrow it down to two that have probably had the greatest impact. One was from high school: Ms. Rene Fowler. She was an 11th grade English teacher and helped me know who I was and to grow as an individual. Then, when I was doing my master’s at Ole Miss, Dr. Tom Burnham, who is the interim director of the Principal Corps program there. He has become such a mentor to me, but really helped me realize and appreciate the opportunities that come with being an educational leader and the impact you can have.”

Tell me about your philosophy as an administrator. How do you approach the job each day?

“I’m a believe in servant leadership and collaborative leadership. I think the greatest ideas come when you have multiple people at the table discussing and talking it through. I think, when it comes to leadership, you’ve got to have empathy and care for whomever you’re responsible for leading — the students, the teachers. You have to have a lot of empathy and care, working toward a common goal of achieving the best for everyone — and ultimately, in these positions, trying to always do what’s best for children every time.”

What is one thing you wish your students knew about you?

“How much I care about them and how much I want them to achieve their greatest levels of individual and collective success. Obviously, you share that with them all the time. But really making sure that they understand and appreciate that they are cared for, that they are loved and that (by) not just me, but a collective of our faculty and our district staff that all really want to see them achieve the highest levels of success that they’re capable of.”

What is your favorite part of the job?

“The relationships and the interactions with the students, staff and community at large. Really working continually to try to help our students achieve at the highest level of success that they can and just building those relationships where the kids know that they’ve got people who are here who genuinely care about them every day. I think that’s the most integral part of what we do — building those relationships with kids and making sure they know that the adults genuinely care for them.”

Do you have a school motto?

“We’ve got our mission and our vision, which really focus on creating a world class, 21st century educational experience to help our kids be career and college ready.”

What are you looking forward to this school year?

“I’m just looking forward to getting back in the building and getting back working with the students and teachers, working to make sure we’re doing everything within our power to help our students be as successful as possible in everything they’re doing and achieving whatever goals they have for themselves and to help the push to set those goals out there, to really strive for excellence in everything that they’re capable of, and have that long view of ‘Yes, we want to do our best in high school.’

“But we want to also make sure that we’re taking into account that high school is just the beginning. When you walk across the stage, you’re really just stepping out into the real world, so to speak. (We want to) make sure that we’re working to help our kids be motivated and goal-oriented and set those goals that help them not only be successful during their time here at Corinth High School, but to be successful in life.”