West Charlotte High School principal Timisha Barnes-Jones is resigning from Charlotte Mecklenberg Schools, according to an email she sent out Monday.
She will leave CMS at the end of the month, and will become the director of school improvement at Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools in Georgia.
“This was a hard decision, and I’ve grappled with it for a while,” Barnes-Jones said. “I love this work, supporting communities and supporting kids. I’m hoping eventually, I’ll return at some point, but it was time for me to do something a little different.”
Barnes-Jones was named principal of the year by the district last year. For the past 22 years, she has worked in CMS, starting as a music teacher in Renaissance Elementary (now Renaissance West) and Winterfield Elementary. Before joining West Charlotte as an assistant principal of instruction, she was an assistant principal at Vance High.
She became co-principal at West Charlotte before becoming principal in 2013.
In her email, Barnes-Jones said her resignation comes with “mixed emotions” while highlighting major changes at West Charlotte during her tenure.
“We went from not meeting growth (goals) to being named a NC School of high growth in 2017,” she wrote. “Not only have we come off the NC low performing school list, together we have restored the ROAR at West Charlotte High School.”
At West Charlotte, Barnes-Jones has led the school through a transformative period. Under her tenure, the graduation rate jumped from 56 percent in 2013 to 73 percent last year. The school was part of Project LIFT, a $55 million public-private partnership aimed at improving Charlotte schools.
Barnes-Jones said she’s most proud of changing the community understanding of West Charlotte and strengthening investment in the school. The school revived its theater and arts programs and expanded its partnerships with community programs and local colleges and universities, offering students mentorship and job shadowing opportunities.
“When I got to West Charlotte, people would say it’s a horrible school, but we were able change the narrative,” she said. “There is so much history. What’s wonderful about West Charlotte is the family, the community, meeting the needs of our students and helping with upward mobility.”
On campus, where students know her by the initials TBJ, Barnes-Jones described building a culture where success and high expectations are the norm. Some students, she said, went from failing everything to realizing they could succeed and pouring that energy back into other students.
“They knew I knew their names, and they didn’t want to disappoint,” she said. “They know, ‘TBJ knows my schedule, if I’m out of place, she’s going to say so.’”
Barnes-Jones said she takes pride in being part of transforming a school, and described West Charlotte as a “family-oriented space” where students pulled each other up. For her personally, both CMS and West Charlotte have been like family as well.
“I love this community and I will always love them,” she said. “One day, I’m gonna be back.”