For more than 23 years, Angel Barnes could be found in the classrooms and hallways of at least one of St. Martin’s schools.
Some years she was a teacher, but every year she was a parent. Each year she gave her four children and their schools her all.
“I know what it’s like to be in the trenches and I know what it’s like to be out here and be able to help,” she said. “I know what kind of help they need.”
Recently, when Barnes was registering her son, Taylor, 17, for his senior year at St. Martin High School, she got a call from the Mississippi Department of Education letting her know that she was named the state’s Parent of the Year for 2017.
While she is honored by the selection, she said she doesn’t think she does “anything particularly special.” Her nomination letter, however, points out significant school and community involvement well beyond the days of serving as a room mom and PTO president.
She chaperoned many a school trip and helped with school teams and clubs, serving in whatever role was needed. Fundraisers, she’s had a few.
“I consider it just participating in my kids’ lives,” she said. “Whatever they’re involved in, I’m going to be involved in.”
Also for 2017, she was honored as the Jackson County School District Parent of the Year and the 4th Congressional District Parent of the Year.
Barnes and her husband, Ron, also have three daughters: Amy, 29; Hayley, 27; and Emily, 19.
“We have continually had at least one child in St. Martin Schools for 24 years,” she said. “I have to say that I’m very pleased with the education they’ve received. I couldn’t have asked for better schools. They had so many opportunities.”
She admitted to feeling a bit odd when she registered Taylor, her last child, for his last year of school.
“It’s just so strange,” she said. “I’m sure I’m going to still feel an attachment after he finishes (school).”
As her children got older, their interests expanded and she become involved more in theater, choir and robotics. This school year will bring a lot of work with the robotics team, she said, a big interest of her son, who plans to major in computer engineering.
Barnes serves as Children’s Ministries Director at her church, Heritage United Methodist Church in D’Iberville. She is on the Board of Directors for Gulfport Little Theatre, where she enjoys her “behind-the-scene” role, working as producer in mostly children or teen shows.
She said her children also enjoy community service. And, come to think of it, she said, her mother served as a role model.
“When the (school) doors were open, she was there,” Barnes said. “I guess that was where I learned to do it. I’ll have to thank her for that.”