Friends bid farewell to BSD’s Barrett

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All day she told herself she was not going to cry. But, afterstanding waiting patiently to say goodbye to her former boss andgood friend, former Superintendent Lea Barrett, the BrookhavenSchool District secretary could not help herself.

“Even though she’s been replaced, she can’t be replaced,” saidSecretary Sharlene Banks.

Friends, school district officials, teachers, parents, communityleaders and students eagerly stood in line at the BrookhavenRecreation Department Monday evening to shake Barrett’s hand andexpress their gratitude to the former superintendent for her sevenyears of leadership.

“We wanted to show her our appreciation for her dedication tothe school district,” said event coordinator Shannon Clark. “Everytime we went to her with issues, she made an effort to meet ourneeds.”

The Parent Teacher Associations throughout the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict held the reception. Clark said the PTAs wanted to makesure everyone in the community had the chance to thank Barrettpersonally.

While Barrett wanted to silently leave the district, the PTA wasnot going to let her slip away that easily.

“There were too many people in the community that wanted her toknow how they felt about her to let it go unnoticed,” said Clark.”She’s touched a lot of people’s lives in the 16 years she’s beenhere.”

It was an emotional day for Barrett, who announced herretirement in August, and those that knew her well. The formersuperintendent has spent the last 32 years in education, 16 ofthose years as an educator inside the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict.

“It’s sad, but it’s a wonderful time,” said Barrett. “There areso many good people in Brookhaven.”

For the immediate future, Barrett plans to take a break. Shehopes to rest and spend a little bit more time with the family.

“People kid me about it, but I’m real excited to have her home,”said Dennis Barrett, Lea Barrett’s husband.

While she may be retiring as the leader of the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict, a break is all she is taking from the academic world.Barrett said she hopes to be an active lobbyist, consultant andvolunteer for the field that has grown to be a part of her.

“I think education is in the blood,” said Lea Barrett. “And theBrookhaven School District is definitely in the blood.”

No one personal instance stuck out for Barrett in all her yearsas an active leader in the school district.

Instead, Barrett sung the praises of those around her. Shementioned having three high performing schools and two successfulschools, championship sports teams, students’ achievements andcommunity involvement as her memorable moments.

“All of those people made me look a whole lot better than what Iwas,” said Barrett behind teary eyes. “Any successes here weretheir successes.”