Dorchester School District fine arts director leaving after 15 years

larrybarnfieldLarry Barnfield has worked tirelessly to advance arts education as fine arts director for Dorchester School District Two and statewide as a board member and leader for many organizations. In 2010, Barnfield was honored with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for the Arts, and in 2013, he received Winthrop University’s Medal of Honor in the Arts.

From the Summerville Journal Scene:

Larry Barnfield sees a lot of painting and music in his future.

For the past 15 years he has served as DD2’s fine arts director. Barnfield is now repositioning his life and leaving the district to pursue other ventures.

Barnfield came into DD2 in 1996 after working as a visual arts teacher in Berkeley County. When he took on the fine arts director job in DD2 it was a new position; he led the fine arts faculty as well as those who taught health and physical education in the district. Last year he oversaw a faculty of 192, though this year that number was reduced by 50 when the health and physical education instructors were moved from his department.

June 26 is his official last day in the district, and the arrival of that date stirs a lot of mixed feelings with Barnfield.

“I have loved the job,” he said. “The faculty are just wonderful and incredible. A majority of them have been with me the last 10 years, at least. We have worked together so many years so of course I’ll miss them.”

Barnfield does not plan to just disappear – he still plans to go to the performances and different events – except now he will be able to “relax more” whenever he attends.

Barnfield began making the decision to move on last fall, saying his wife of 25 years, Pamela, has been hoping for more time together. The couple has three adult daughters and two grandchildren and they love to travel – Pamela already has trips planned for the two of them.

In January Barnfield decided it was time to make the decision. He still plans to be involved with a number of things, mainly consulting work and doing fine arts grants for a number of different places. He also plans to help work with other school districts – in and out of the state.

Barnfield looks forward to being able to set his own hours and being able to get a lot of his work done electronically. In his spare time he plans to work on his own artistic skills; he has a graduate degree in painting and once worked as an exhibitor in New York. He is also going to hone his piano skills – lots of classical music like Mozart.

“I’m going to start and see if I can get my piano skills back at the time when they began to decline,” he said.

Barnfield’s artistic endeavors date all the way back to college but he has not always worked in the educational field. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Eastern Illinois. He taught visual arts for four years until he moved to Greenwich Village in New York City – the “happening” place for the arts. After about five years Barnfield returned to Illinois and was on the faculty at Illinois State University for four years, then left for Evansville, Ind., for close to 20 years and started working in art therapy, teaching students with disabilities. Barnfield went to a large teaching hospital in Evansville for about eight years and ran the staff for human resource development before returning to art therapy at the University of Evansville.

He finally relocated to Mt. Pleasant and worked as a visual arts teacher in Berkeley County. Barnsfield in particular wanted to work with children in order to enjoy the versatility of the job.

“Every day is different,” he said. “Every hour is different. It is challenging and has so much variety and I thrive on that.”

Barnfield will miss the people, their energy and their creativity. He will miss watching students develop artistically in the district.

“I get to see them develop and that’s just very enjoyable,” he said.

Barnfield is most proud of how the district has supported him in implementing a comprehensive fine arts program for the district; every school has a piano lab and the district has 13 full-time dance teachers – and dance is offered in six of the elementary schools so far.

“We have added and added more artistic opportunities for students, and students are spending more time studying the arts,” Barnfield said, “and it obviously isn’t affecting their test scores because they are still going up.”

Barnfield feels it is more important today for students to study the arts as a different way to communicate.

“Creativity is just crucial for the development, skill and career of our students,” he said. “They’ve got to have the creativity to move with that flow.”

After his last day Barnfield is leaving with his whole family for Hendersonville, N.C. He looks forward to getting more time with his wife, daughters and grandchildren.

“These last 15 years have been wonderful,” he said. “I feel good about it.”