Longtime educator, Gail Barnes, is new principal 

Gail Barnes at desktIn 1996, she arrived at DeKalb County School District (DCSD) as a student teacher in college.

In 1997, she began teaching at Chamblee Charter High School—one of the best educational institutions in the state of Georgia. While there, she has impacted students’ lives one conversation at a time as a social studies teacher, coach, department chair, and assistant principal.

Little did she know she would eventually become school principal.

Chamblee Charter High School announced the promotion of Gail Barnes from assistant principal to principal in March 2019. The announcement celebrates an educator whose mission of bettering the lives of students has not wavered for more than 20 years.

“I’m very honored. It’s exciting—I’m eager to see where we can take our school in moving forward in a positive direction,” Barnes said. “I see it as a two-pronged focus on communication and student achievement. This goes for the community at large, in house, and making sure everyone knows where we are and what’s upcoming. Students are priority number one.”

Chamblee Charter High currently ranks no. 457 nationally, no. 14 in Georgia, and no. 116 in charter high schools, according to US News & World Report. Barnes sees this as evidence that Chamblee’s priorities are dedicated to student success, and hopes to carry on that tradition as the school’s leader.

Barnes loves Chamblee Charter High’s diverse school culture. She notes that the campus has an overall atmosphere of genuine focus, with a palpable common goal of success. Barnes hopes to use that commonality to transform Chamblee Charter into a unified neighborhood school.

“I would love to see a deeper connection with students—more check-ins, more follow-up, more assurance that we have every student where they want to be, available to all possibilities that are out there,” Barnes said. “Ultimately, I would love to see us named a Blue Ribbon school. We’re getting there.”

As a career educator, Barnes knows that many teachers are asked to do it all—educate, mediate, mentor, and provide emotional support. She plans to help teachers manage that workload through collaboration and sharing some of that workload.

When she first arrived at Chamblee Charter High fresh out of college, Barnes found teaching there to be overwhelming. She divided her time between teaching at Chamblee and Towers High School in four different courses.

Gail Barnes outside schoolStill, the leadership and overall school environments at both schools reassured her she was at the right place.

“I had great mentorship and great leadership, which made all the difference,” Barnes said.

Barnes originally became interested in education her senior year of high school. Her high school allowed seniors to explore a career path in the field for one month, and Barnes happened to choose education. For an entire month, she helped teach ninth-grade physical science at her own school.

“It was amazing,” Barnes said. “I got a chance to work with teachers, plan lessons, and teach lessons. It was a great experience—there’s nothing like it. It’s just special.”

For Barnes, being an educator is all about building relationships with students and steering them in the right direction. Seeing student growth in academics, confidence, and comprehension year in, year out is what has kept her in the field. Her passions align with providing ample opportunities and recognizing potential.

“I love the interaction that I have with students. I love seeing students recognizing the same potential that I see in them in themselves, buy into it, and believe in themselves,” Barnes said. “I still love the day-to-day duty of being their cheerleader, their mom, their mentor, and getting students to where they want to be for their goals. The classroom is still at my heart. The students are always at my heart.”