With small-town style, the Pine- Strawberry School District hired Duncan Elementary School Principal Cody Barlow to replace retiring Superintendent Mike Clark.
To showcase its small-town charm, the Pine-Strawberry School had hosted a barbecue for the community to meet the six candidates. Officials reported about 100 people attended the event in February. Gila County Superintendent of Schools Linda O’Dell applied for the post, but wasn’t among the finalists.
“When my wife and I left the barbecue, we said, ‘This is the way a small town should be,’” said Barlow. He and his family, which includes his wife and three children, have visited the Rim Country in the past to see his sister and brother, who live in Mesa.
“I’ll be moving a lot closer to family,” he said.
He also looks forward to the educational opportunities for his children. Duncan is a small town that sits on the border with New Mexico, so remote the nearest grocery store requires an hour’s drive. Moving to the Rim Country will get his family closer to Phoenix and Flagstaff and all they have to offer.
Barlow has worked in education for the last 14 years. He has an undergraduate degree in science education and a master’s in education.
“I started as a high school science teacher in Show Low,” he said, “then worked as a junior high science teacher before going into administration.”
With his strong background in chemistry, he used to take his students to science competitions at Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.
He is excited to take his 16-year-old daughter and two sons, one 14 the other 9, to the cities and universities to show them the arts, culture and educational opportunities.
As principal of Duncan Elementary, Barlow had 270 kindergarten through eighth-grade students under his care. The Pine school has about 123 students and has suffered persistent declines. Students transfer to the Payson school district when they hit high school.
Barlow plans on listening to his staff when he comes on board in Pine.
“I would like to jump in and see how things work,” he said, “I will ask for input from the teachers to start.”