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Barnes Hired As DES Principal

By David Howell


WATER VALLEY – The Water Valley School Board hired Davidson Elementary School (DES) assistant principal Valeree Ellis-Barnes as the new DES principal. Barnes will replace Ezzard Beane, who will return to the Grenada School District as an assistant administrator in July after working a year at DES.

Beane, who lives in Grenada, said returning to work in the Grenada School District will make it easier to help with his daughters, citing a tough schedule during the last year that made it difficult to attend functions they were involved with or transporting them back and forth to school. Beane also said the decision was bittersweet as he has been embraced by the students, teachers and community.

“I told the staff that I apologize for leaving because I really felt like there was a vision in place,” Beane said about his decision.  “I really believe in the potential that Davidson has and I hate that I will not be a part of the final growth. I feel like they are on the right path to see growth overall and it is very bittersweet,” he added.

Beane added that the momentum at DES will continue, citing the strong effort from the teachers, assistant principal and everyone pushing behind the scenes. He also explained that his year at DES was not a stepping stone for his professional growth.

“It is not like I came in to get a step up in my career for professional growth. Actually I am going back down,” he explained about taking a job as an assistant administrator job at Grenada. 

For Barnes, serving as principal at DES has a special meaning as she was friends with the late Dr. Carol Gary, the much-loved former DES principal who was killed in 2013.

“Dr. Carol Gary was a friend of mine and it makes this extra special,” Barnes said about her promotion as DES principal. “But I would be remiss if I did not say losing Mr. Beane hurts. Even though he is going to a different location, we walk in stride. We share the same educational philosophy. But that is what makes this transition for me a lot easier than what it could have been,” Barnes added.

Barnes has worked as an educator for 18 years and has degrees in phycology, elementary education, plus a master’s in curriculum and instruction and a specialist in educational leadership from Delta State University.

In the coming year, Barnes said her priority will be to continue to provide support for the students and teachers that they enjoyed this year. 

“We were an awesome team, so I want to look at strengthening what we were already doing,” Barnes said about working alongside Beane this year. “I have a love for reading, I love literature. Literacy is a huge push for me, and that includes being literate in numeracy as well,” Barnes also said.

Water Valley Superintendent Dr. Michael McInnis said the district hated to lose Beane. 

“He was highly recruited for this position. I worked with him two years at Grenada before I came to Water Valley,” McInnis explained. The superintendent also said he visited the staff at DES last Wednesday after he learned Beane would be leaving.

“When I introduced Mrs. Barnes as the new principal, the teachers were elated. The school board was very excited, I am very excited to have someone of this caliber to lead this school,” McInnis said.

Among challenges identified by Dr. McInnis for Barnes is helping the district make the transition to add a middle school, an addition that could come in two years. 

“We need a true middle school. Those fifth and sixth graders need to transition to their own building because the curriculum changes,” McInnis explained.

Another challenge identified by McInnis is to find the right person to serve as assistant principal at DES. 

“We are looking for the best fit for our students, for our staff,” Barnes added about finding her replacement.  And for the parents, Barnes assured them that her most important priority is to do right by their children. 

“I am the mother of three young adults and I have been there,” she added.

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