Expatriate Buckeye is at home in Southwest
Barbalee Blair, who grew up in a Cleveland, Ohio suburb and lived her adult life in the American Southwest, is the new Superintendent of Schools at Felt.
“I grew up in rural Ohio; but rural Ohio is nothing like here,” Blair said with a smile and a wave of her hand.
Blair, who was engaged to be married when she graduated high school came west to attend the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque at the behest of her mother.
“She wanted to send me on a little mini-vacation. The plan was I would attend college for one semester and then go home and get married...it didn't happen; at least not then or to that man.”
“I fell in love with New Mexico, and have loved this area ever since.”
When asked what it was about this area that appealed to her, Blair replied, “It's the friendliness; the sheer back to the roots. This truly is, real America.”
Blair comes to Felt, from the Clayton, N.M. school system, where she had been for the past 27 and one-half years as an English teacher, administrator and more recently involved in technology.
Asked why she chose to both return to administration and move to Felt, Blair said, “I wanted to make a difference; and this is a school where I can.”
“I love technology. But it doesn't change schools,” Blair added.
“They [the Felt community] really care about the kids here. I know that sounds cliche. But I've never been in a place where they care so much about kids. That's what really turned my crank.”
“The Feds are trying to break up larger schools into smaller learning centers. We are already there. Places like Felt, even Boise City were practicing ‘No child left behind before it was cool to do so.”
“My son fell in love with this place,” Blair said.
Blair is a single parent with three sons age 21, 18 and her youngest will be a Felt High junior this fall.
Asked what changes she'll try to bring to the Felt School system, Blair had only one response, “Stability”.
“They've had three superintendents in three years. They need stability. It's a great school with caring people. They need continuity.”
Asked about low student population, and how she might attract students, Blair shrugged, “There's no way to actively do that. We can't supply jobs. We aren't going to build houses; we won't solicit.”
“But we are the gem of the country. We had a family just driving through that stopped and investigated the school. If he can find the land he wants nearby, he wants his kids to attend this school,” Blair said.
Boise City News