A longtime Limestone County educator was hired as the new Julian Harris Elementary principal at a special meeting of the Decatur school board on Monday afternoon.

Angela D. Barnes, 55, of Athens comes to the city school system with 33 years as an educator in Limestone County, including the past three years as principal at Tanner Elementary. Her first day at Julian Harris will be Nov. 1.

She said she will focus on building relationships and continuing efforts to raise test scores.

“I believe all children can learn, maybe not all at the same speed or at the same level, but they can learn,” she said. “In order to do that, we have to have parental support. It’s very important our parents and faculty work together. It’s not my school, it’s not the faculty’s school, it’s the community’s school.”

Derrick Aikerson was the Julian Harris principal until he was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 8. He was transferred to another position last month and will leave the Decatur school system when his resignation takes effect Feb. 15. Phil Hastings has been serving as Julian Harris' interim principal.

Superintendent Michael Douglas said Barnes’ long tenure in education impressed him.

“She brings a wealth of experience,” he said. “She has administrative experience. She has a proven record of raising test scores. We’re very fortunate in the middle of the year to find a seasoned candidate.”

He said her work as a former reading coach was important in the decision to hire her.

“We’ve got a big push going on right now for reading,” he said. “With her knowledge and experience, we felt it was a win-win.”

Barnes, who has an educational specialist degree from Samford University, said she was grateful for her time at five Limestone schools and is ready for a new challenge.

“It was a very difficult decision to leave Limestone,” she said. “I’ve heard great things about Decatur City (Schools), and everything I’ve heard about Julian Harris has been positive. I plan to go in and build relationships and get to know everybody.”

Barnes said her mother, two sisters and daughter also have been educators.

Her salary was not available late Monday afternoon. 

In other personnel moves, the board approved:

• The resignations of Amy Denise Long, eighth-grade physical science teacher, and Elizabeth Earon Sheats, assistant principal, at Austin Junior High.

• The hiring of Regan Carpenter, physical science teacher at Austin Junior High; and Virginia Johanna Folds, secondary English teacher at Decatur High.

mike.wetzel@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.

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