Where can you find the nation’s best principal for gifted kids? Try uptown Charlotte

Principal Jackie Barone talks to Piedmont Middle students in 2015.
Principal Jackie Barone talks to Piedmont Middle students in 2015.

Jackie Barone, principal of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Piedmont Middle School, has been named 2017 administrator of the year by the National Association for Gifted Children, a group of educators that will meet in Charlotte this fall.

Barone has worked at Piedmont for 10 years, the last 4 1/2 as principal. Piedmont is an International Baccalaureate magnet school that attracts gifted students and other high achievers with a rigorous curriculum.

The Observer and The (Raleigh) News & Observer recently reported on the struggles of gifted students who come from low-income homes to get an equal shot at advanced academic opportunities.

Piedmont, which requires grade-level reading scores for admission, is socioeconomically and racially diverse. It was one of only 15 CMS schools to earn an A+ rating from the state for 2017.

“One of the most remarkable environments I have ever visited is Piedmont IB Middle School,” said Sneha Shah-Coltrane, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s top official for education of gifted students. “I strongly believe that this school thrives with the inspired and determined leadership of Principal Barone. This national award is a well-deserved recognition for her support of accelerated programming and gifted students.”

Barone said she offers her students accelerated courses in the traditional academic disciplines, but her students also benefit from such elective classes as band and a school newspaper. “We’re meeting our kids where they are and giving them multiple opportunities,” she said.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms