At its June 9 special meeting, the APS Board of Education officially appointed John L. Barry as the new Superintendent of Schools. Barry will begin his role in mid-July. “We believe we have made the best choice. We’re confident that John is going to be successful. He will bring a fresh perspective to APS,” said Board President Matt Cook.
“This is an honor. My children attended public schools from kindergarten through graduation, and I am committed to public education. My goal is to build on the strong foundations in APS to improve the quality of learning that we provide Aurora’s children,” said Barry.
Barry comes to APS with more than 30 years in the Air Force. In addition to living and working in the U.S., he has lived in Germany for five years, Holland for two, Turkey for two and Korea for one year. “It is absolutely incredible to live in another country. I learned so much about understanding other cultures and respecting new values. I still appreciate the history and the rich customs offered by those I met in each country,” said Barry. He retired from the Air Force in 2003 as a Major General. Barry most recently worked as Vice-President for Defense and Security at SAP, the world's leading provider of educational and business software solutions.
Barry’s desire to lead APS comes from a combination of two passions—children and education. “I always knew I would get directly involved in public education after I retired from the Air Force. I believe that my experience as a leader who inspires positive actions and change will be an asset to the Aurora Public Schools,” he said.
In 2004, Barry was one of only 20 graduates of the Broad Academy and Center for Superintendents. As a Broad fellow, he received extensive CEO-level training in education, finance, management, operations, and organizational systems. The center prepares CEOs and senior executives from business, nonprofit, military, government and education backgrounds to lead urban public school systems.
“The Broad Academy helped bridge my leadership experiences with urban educational needs. I believe that leading APS is the ideal opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children. Ensuring that what we do is best for students will always be my compass, my true north. The focus on students will guide everything that we do in APS,” said Barry.
Barry will receive continued support from the Broad Foundation including:
- a weekend strategy session with three of the nation’s top urban superintendents to help plan the first 90 days;
- assistance by a moderator for the first off-site school board retreat under his tenure as Superintendent;
- expert instructional and operational teams to review and/or audit under-performing district functions;
- executive advisors who will work with the district during his first two years at APS.
The Broad Foundation’s mission is to dramatically improve K-12 urban public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition.
When asked about his work history and what he is proud of, Barry had many stories to share. One is related to his work on the 2003 Columbia Space Shuttle investigation. “This was a tragic accident, and as the Executive Director, I was responsible for helping lead the independent investigation and coordinating the largest search mission in U.S. history. We were all committed to honoring those who lost their lives while ensuring that we understood why this tragedy happened. Lessons learned from tragedies need to be understood so education can prevent repeated mistakes,” said Barry. In a record seven months, investigators were able to submit a full report identifying causes, findings and recommendations for NASA to safely return to manned space flight. NASA is implementing all 29 of the major recommendations offered by the Columbia Accident Investigation team.
The APS Communication Services team will provide regular updates on Mr. Barry in E-news, our online employee newsletter, Community Connection, our online community newsletter and on the APS Web site.