Janice O. BartonJanice O. Barton
Oak Grove Central Elementary School
DeSoto County School District
Hernando, Mississippi

When Janice Barton arrived at Oak Grove Central Elementary to begin steering it toward success, the small-town school suffered from low status as a school in need of improvement. However, Barton’s leadership during the past five years has transformed the previously “failing, isolated, textbook-driven school” into an institution she now proudly describes as a “high-performing, student-centered school.” By 2007, academic improvements had boosted Oak Grove Central Elementary’s status by two levels, increasing the morale of the school community. Barton achieved these dramatic improvements through the collaboration of staff, teachers’ use of data-driven instruction, and the school’s embrace of technology. High among Barton’s accomplishments has been her creation of a strong focus on students. Her school serves 556 children in grades four and five. “Through increased parental involvement, rigor, relevance, relationships, energy, passion, and positive attitudes,” she says, “we have changed classrooms from teacher-centered to student-centered places where students are engaged in meaningful learning experiences.” Barton also has fostered an atmosphere in her school that supports students’ love of reading. Schoolwide practices and programs that promote reading include a book-of-the-month initiative, reading celebrations, a morning book club, and DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time. The school also features a reading garden. Barton received her B.S.Ed. from Southwest Texas State University and her M.Ed. and Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi at Oxford.