Christine Barnes said her first week as superintendent of the Keokuk School District has been a whirlwind, meeting new people and learning about the district. She said it's also been exciting for the new opportunity that lies before her.
“I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to meet many staff members, some parents, some students and community members, so it’s been very exciting,” said Barnes.
A public meet-and-greet for Christine Barnes will be held Thursday, Aug. 10 at the Keokuk High School Media Center from 5:00-6:30 pm.
The 2017/2018 school year is Barnes’ 18th year in education, her 7th as on the administration side. Prior to her arrival in Keokuk, she was the superintendent of the Colon School District in Michigan.
It’s not coincidence, though, that Barnes happened upon the job opening in Keokuk.
Barnes is originally from Cedar Rapids while her husband is from Keokuk. She said with his family still in the area, they consider Keokuk their second home.
“We visit here frequently,” said Barnes. “When the position opened up, I learned about the position through some of my relatives who are here. We do love this area and we love the community. It’s just a beautiful area, so we were excited about the possibility of moving back [after 31 years in Michigan]. We are empty nesters, our children are all grown now with our youngest in college now, so it seemed like a good time to get closer to our family.”
Barnes said as she’s been learning about the school district, she’s been impressed with the existing programs aimed at professional development and at improving the atmosphere and attitudes within the school buildings.
“When I came and interviewed a couple months ago, I was very impressed with the direction the district was headed with some really great initiatives and ways to help all students find success,” said Barnes. “That really excited me about the opportunity to come to Keokuk.”
Barnes said she would like to build upon current mentoring efforts for teachers and staff and to enhance career and technical opportunities for students. She has already started meeting with the superintendents of surrounding districts to see what types of collaborations are possible.
The Keokuk School Board opened up the selection process for the new superintendent, bringing in members of the community to serve on interview panels. Board President Janne Long said the idea was to be open and accountable to the community.
Barnes said that idea of openness and accountability is important to her as well.
“You have to be open,” said Barnes. “You are a servant leader. You are here to serve your district, your community, your students, your staff. I think that approach is critical. My door is always open.”
Barnes said her goal is to spend time in the school buildings, seeing what is going on, or out in the community, meeting with people, as opposed to sitting in her office all day.
Barnes replaced Tim Hood, who left the district for a shared superintendent job in SW Iowa. Barnes agreed to a two-year contract with a starting salary of $158,000.