Coweta administrator is national Principal of the Year finalist

From the National Association of Secondary School Principals:

Laurie Barron, principal of Smokey Road Middle School in Newnan. (Coweta schools)

Laurie Barron, principal of Smokey Road Middle School in Newnan. (Coweta schools)

Laurie Barron, principal of Smokey Road Middle School in Newnan, has been named a finalist in the 2013 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year Program for her significant contributions to student achievement.

When Barron became the principal of Smokey Road eight years ago, the school of nearly 800 students was plagued by discipline problems, high absenteeism, and low student achievement. By building trusting relationships and promoting shared leadership, however, Barron was able to restore confidence among students, teachers, and community members.

Under Barron’s leadership, stakeholder input is highly valued; teachers receive meaningful professional development and leadership opportunities; and most importantly, students benefit from constant recognition, personal relationships with adults in the building, and customized instruction based on data outcomes.

“Dr. Laurie Barron motivates her students and teachers daily and she…is always moving throughout the hallways each morning encouraging students, listening to concerns, and monitoring everything that takes place,” said Marc Guy, assistant superintendent of Coweta County Schools.

Today, Smokey Road is regularly recognized for its achievements. The diverse middle school, which made AYP for the last six years, was named a 2011 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School for being high-achieving while serving a large number of students in poverty. It has also received distinction as a Georgia Title I Distinguished School for the past four years. “Laurie loves all her students and goes the extra mile to reach them,” Guy said.

The search for the national principal of the year began in early 2012 as each state principals’ association selected its state principal of the year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists. The national middle level and high school winners will be named in September and recognized in Washington, DC, during the Principals Institute for State Principals of the Year, Sept. 19-22.

Barron and the other five finalists will each receive a $1,500 grant, and the two national award winners — one high school and one middle level — will receive additional grants of $3,500. The grants will be used to improve learning at the school (e.g., a special school project and/or professional development opportunities).

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

10 comments Add your comment

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July 10th, 2012
9:18 am

Outstanding! Congratulations to Mrs. Baron for this accomplishment. Positive leadership can change things for the better!

Jordan Kohanim

July 10th, 2012
9:31 am

Congrats! What an awesome achievement!

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

July 10th, 2012
10:48 am

CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Barron and her team of students, parents, other community members and staff on her national recognition.

Steven Reid Harbin

July 10th, 2012
12:08 pm

Congratulations to both Dr. Barron and the community of parents, students, and staff of Smokey Road Middle School. As Dr. Spinks post implies, this type of accomplishment is a great team effort and Dr. Barron is a true leader who knows how to get everyone involved in school and student improvement. Again, congrats!

Linda Nelson

July 10th, 2012
7:52 pm

Laurie truly gives MUCH credit to the faculty, staff, and students of Smokey Road; she speaks of this often. I am so proud of her and truly blessed to be her mother.

Dr. John Trotter

July 11th, 2012
9:03 am

Congratulations to Dr. Laurie Barron and to the entire staff and community at Smokey Road Middle! I am a proud resident of Coweta County, and I have always said that the Fayetter-Coweta corridor is the best kept secret in the Metro Area. Both counties have good public school systems!

Dr. John Trotter

July 11th, 2012
9:05 am

Fayette-Coweta, not Fayetter-Coweta. Sorry for the typo. It’s still early!

Ole Guy

July 12th, 2012
12:35 pm

After we have all rendered congratulatory accolades, thrown babies into the air, etc, let us not overlook the educational propensity of bestowing “(fill in the blank) of the year” awards to those who, in short order, will be just as likely to continue the march into the educational void as well as to HAVE THEIR PROFESSIONAL HEADS HANDED TO THEM.

Song of the 60s:



July 12th, 2012
3:03 pm

@ Ole Guy.

That’s a 1960s anti-war song protesting the Vietnam War draft that pacifists sang, many of whom suffered imprisonment and exile for their religious convictions. It was not all social posturing, although you turn it into that. I remember this song well, and will complete the lines:

“Where have all the young men gone,
Gone to graveyards every one,
When will they ever learn,
When will they ever learn?”

I really don’t see the relevance for this situation of congratulating a middle-school principal for her “significant student achievements.” Also, as you’ve noted in numerous posts, you fought in the Vietnam War as a war pilot. Why are you co-opting a song of the anti-war opposition to express yourself?


July 12th, 2012
3:52 pm

And congratulations to Principal Barron, for winning the $1500 that will be used to improve learning at the school (e.g., a special school project and/or professional development opportunities). This is not an empty award.