PMP386: Connecting Every Student to Caring Adults with Melissa Barlow

Melissa Barlow is in her eleventh year as Principal of Yukon High School in Yukon, Oklahoma.  In her past two decades as an educator, she has taught both middle-level and high school science and math, as well as serving in the role of assistant principal.  Barlow obtained her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and a Master’s in Education Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma. As a former alumnus of Yukon High School, Barlow is honored to serve her hometown community with a focus on individual student success through educator collaboration.  Her focus on building relationships has established a rich culture and climate that values the success of all students.  In 2021, Barlow was named the Oklahoma High School Principal of the Year and has presented on such topics as developing school culture, individualized intervention, and post-secondary preparation.

Listen to the entire conversation for amazing takeaways.

Here is a quick summary of this week’s episode:

During the interview, Barlow also mentioned her connection to Yukon, Oklahoma, and the interesting fact that she and famous musician Garth Brooks both grew up there. She recalled buying Garth Brooks’ first single on a cassette tape.

Barlow introduced the innovative S.O.S. (Save Our Students) program that Yukon High School has been implementing for the past seven years. Inspired by the story of Josh Shipp, a former student turned inspirational speaker, the program aims to identify adults who have relationships with the school’s nearly 3,000 students. The program has evolved from paper documents to a digital format, categorizing teachers into three tiers based on their knowledge of students. 

  • Tier 1 teachers know students by name.
  • Tier 2 teachers are familiar with students’ interests and activities.
  • Tier 3 teachers have deep connections with students, serving as a safe place and understanding their triggers and motivations. 

Barlow also emphasized the importance of documenting positive interactions with teachers, aiming for at least four such interactions with each of the school’s 186 certified staff members.

For aspiring school leaders, Barlow advised aligning their schedules with their priorities and defining collective commitments to distinguish emergencies from non-negotiables. She encouraged listeners to engage with the full interview for more insights.

Listeners interested in staying updated with Yukon High School’s progress and achievements, as well as reaching out to Melissa Barlow, can do so via email or by visiting the school’s website!

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker