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posted: 8/17/2010 12:01 AM

Longtime administrator tackles new challenge: High school

Retired superintendent steps in as Grant High principal

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  • John Barbini, the interim principal at Grant High School in Fox Lake, looks at the new I.D. for computer technician Kristen Perry as he walks through the building Monday on the first day of school.

       John Barbini, the interim principal at Grant High School in Fox Lake, looks at the new I.D. for computer technician Kristen Perry as he walks through the building Monday on the first day of school.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer


It's a new school, a new town, and new students, but John Barbini's new job has a ring of familiarity.

The retired superintendent with more than 40 years of administrative experience has resurfaced at Grant High School in Fox Lake.

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Instead of serving as an interim-superintendent, as he has done on-and-off since retiring in 2004, he'll be an interim-principal for the 2010-11 school year.

It's a role he said he is enjoying.

"I like the atmosphere of the high school," Barbini said. "Maybe it's my personality, but high school is exciting. Students come to us at 14 years old and we help them grow into 18-year-old adults. It's quite an experience."

Barbini said he'll run the school's day-to-day operation, and institute new programs his replacement can coordinate when his contract ends in May.

"We want an increase in grades, an increase in the graduation rate, and we want to do a good job of preparing these students to become productive citizens for when they leave high school," he said. "I will be coordinating the development of the academic team and institute some new systems the new principal could use to help guide the district in the future."

Barbini replaces former principal Pat Bentancur, who resigned suddenly for unannounced reasons in early June. Bentancur was a principal at Grant for two years.

Grant High School District 124 had three choices when setting out to find a replacement for the new school year, Superintendent John Benedetti said.

The board could have absorbed the position for one year, he could have done a quick search and potentially hired a candidate who may not have met all of the district needs, or he could have brought in a qualified person on a one-year contract while a more thorough search is conducted, Benedetti said.

"There were some quality candidates who had applied, but, not only was it during a compact and quick search, but also most candidates were under contract in other districts and it wouldn't have been fair to take away someone at that late a date," he said. "It just made sense to find an interim, and how could we pass up a person with 40 years of experience in leadership roles?"

Benedetti said they worked closely when Barbini served as a superintendent at Wauconda Unit District 118.

"We always wanted to work together," he said. "This was our chance."

Barbini was an administrator in Schaumburg for 20 years before taking over as superintendent of Wauconda in 1994 until his retirement in 2004.

He later worked for one year as a co-interim superintendent at Grayslake Community High School District 127, then spent a year at North Chicago High School District 187. He was interim-superintendent at Mundelein High School District 120 for two years.

After leaving Mundelein, Barbini served as a consultant at the Lake County Regional Office of Education in Grayslake, which he still does on a part-time basis.

"One of the things I can definitely bring to the table is a perspective of working in other districts," he said. "I have the advantage of being able to see what other districts do, then use those lessons to help Grant move forward in the area of student achievement."

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