Teacher brings award-winning education expertise to N. Mpls

College prep principal has proven skills closing gap for low-income students

James Barnett
James Barnett

James Barnett, principal of Minneapolis College Preparatory School, a public charter school currently serving 9-12 grade students at the old “Lincoln Elementary” building on 12th and Penn Ave. N, is originally from Chicago, Illinois. He moved to Minneapolis when he was in the fifth grade.

Living predominantly on the North Side, he went to Hall Elementary and Franklin Junior High. In high school, he attended Minnehaha Academy, and then went to St. Olaf College for his post-secondary education.

“As a graduate of St. Olaf, I then went to North Carolina for three years, for Teach for America teaching social studies and community science.” While in North Carolina, Barnett was nominated for the 2010 Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award after he increased the number of his students passing the end-of-grade social studies exam from 30 to 84 percent in his first year of teaching.

The following year, he led 89 percent of his students to pass, outperforming average students from non-low-income schools in North Carolina. In 2010, as a first-year eighth-grade science teacher at KIPP Academy Charlotte, Barnett led 93 percent of his students to pass the North Carolina state standardized end-of-grade test for science. As a result of his instructional effectiveness in the classroom, Mr. Barnett eliminated the achievement gap between his students and their peers in wealthier communities.

Barnett moved back to Minneapolis a couple years ago to work for Teach for America full time as a manager for teacher development, working with teachers from kindergarten to high school level. Most recently, Barnett was the manager of teacher leadership development for Teach for America. He has been the principal at Minnesota College Prep since the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Barnett describes Minneapolis College Prep as “A public charter school that has a goal of …a true college prep that focuses on providing high-quality academics to students in Minneapolis and surrounding areas. We have learned that as those communities have gotten more diverse, we have extended our reach to serve a broader demographic of students.”

Barnett added, “Currently, we have a student population of just over 100 students and we are looking to grow our numbers… Next year, we will be adding 12th grade students. We add a grade level each year.”

Minneapolis College Prep offers Spanish, physical science, American and world literature, special education, literature and composition, U.S. and world history, health and physical education, humanities and math, and science. They also have paraprofessionals working in the high school to ensure they are truly helping prepare their students for college.

With his known leadership locally and nationally, James Barnett, could very well help eliminate the education gap between the low-income and wealthier communities while working right here where he grew up and was educated, making it a full-circle experience for him and the students he serves.

For more information on Minneapolis College Preparatory School, 2131 N. 12th Ave., Minneapolis, call 612-200-2274 or go to www.minneapolisprep.com.

Brandi D. Phillips welcomes readers’ responses to bphillips@spokesman-recorder.com.