Corte Sierra principal honored a 2015 National Distinguished Principal
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Corte Sierra principal honored a 2015 National Distinguished Principal

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  • Kaylen Tucker/National Association of Elementary School Principals

Christopher R. Barnes Is Principal Of Corte Sierra Elementary School In The Litchfield Elementary School District In Avondale, Arizona.

Christopher R. Barnes is among 59 outstanding elementary and middle school principals from across the nation and abroad who have been named as 2015 National Distinguished Principals by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Barnes is principal of Corte Sierra Elementary School in Litchfield Elementary School District in Avondale, Arizona.

Corte Sierra principal honored a 2015 National Distinguished Principal ChristopherRBarnes

Christopher R. Barnes is principal of
Corte Sierra Elementary School in the
Litchfield Elementary School District in
Avondale, Arizona.

During his nineteen years as a principal, Barnes’ schools have earned three A+ School of Excellence Awards from the Arizona Educational Foundation, two of which were awarded to Corte Sierra Elementary. Since he opened Corte Sierra thirteen years ago, Barnes has helped the school to fulfill its vision to “Spearhead Through the 21st Century” by building successful relationships with all stakeholders.

Barnes connects with students with genuine enthusiasm—for example, adapting the positive military chant, “HOOAH!” which students shout daily after the “Corte Creed.” He ensures that every learner excels by using programs like WIN (What I Need) in reading and math and instructional tools such as Thinking Maps. He regularly joins staff in meetings, lunches, and observations in order to monitor student progress.

According to Barnes, however, support is mutual; without parents, local businesses, and community members, Corte Sierra wouldn’t be the success that it is. One of his biggest accomplishments is organizing the first district-wide community fundraiser, raising over $50,000 for schools and local nonprofit organizations. Corte Sierra is a Title I School and the winner of three Golden Bell Awards from the Arizona School Boards Association.

Barnes is a Certified Principal Mentor Coach for NAESP and a Certified Hearing Officer for the Arizona School Risk Retention Trust. He holds a B.A. in Secondary Education from Arizona State University and an M.A. in Vocational Education from Northern Arizona University.

The National Distinguished Principals will be honored Oct. 16 at an awards banquet at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., as part of a two-day program. This year marks the 26th year that the program has been generously funded by VALIC. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will deliver opening remarks.

Established in 1984, the two-day NDP celebration program, which will be held at the Capital Hilton Hotel, recognizes public and private school principals who make superior contributions to their schools and communities. The principals will also have the opportunity to share best practices. The 59 principal honorees are selected by NAESP state affiliates and by committees representing private and overseas schools.

NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly congratulated the class of outstanding principals, noting their significant role in successfully leading students, schools, and communities through seismic shifts in education. “Only a school principal can lead a school to success and positively impact an entire learning community,” she said. “That is why I am so pleased to congratulate this year’s class of National Distinguished Principals—they richly deserve this honor and many more.”

Corte Sierra principal honored a 2015 National Distinguished Principal NationalDistinguishedPrincipalsLogo300“VALIC is very proud of our 26 year partnership with the National Distinguished Principals Award Program,” said Jana Greer, President and CEO, Individual and Group Retirement, AIG. “We recognize the critical role education plays in the lives of our nation’s children, and principals are the key to ensuring the highest quality education. On behalf of VALIC, I warmly congratulate all 59 of this year’s National Distinguished Principals and extend my deepest thanks for all that they do.”

It is particularly fitting to acknowledge the work of principals in October because it is National Principals Month, which was established to recognize and honor the contributions of school principals and assistant principals toward the success of the nation’s students, and encourage awareness of their significance.

A list of the 2015 NDPs and their biographical information can be accessed at

Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) leads in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle school principals in the United States and internationally. NAESP supports principals as the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning through policy and professional development, advocacy, programs, and resources for effective instructional leadership. NAESP advances the profession on behalf of all principals, providing specialized support and mentoring for early career principals. Key focus areas include pre-K-3 education, school safety, technology and digital learning, and capacity-building educator evaluation. For more information about NAESP, please visit

For more than half a century, VALIC has served as a leading retirement plan provider for K-12 schools and school districts, healthcare, higher education, government, and other not-for-profit institutions. As of June 30, 2015 VALIC has more than $86 billion in total customer assets under management and manages plans for nearly 24,000 groups serving approximately 1.8 million plan participants. VALIC represents The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company and its subsidiaries, VALIC Financial Advisors, Inc. and VALIC Retirement Services Company.