By Rosemary Pollock
LDS Teachings and Education Behind New Gilbert Schools Superintendent
PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- Brad Barrett became the new Superintendent of the
Gilbert Unified School District this summer and gives the credit to his
father, Jeff Barrett, who taught him the value of an education along with a
strong belief in the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. "There were no excuses about going on in education, " Barrett said.
"It was just expected."
One of Jeff Barrett's most prized possessions was his high school yearbook
and instead of keeping it tucked away on a shelf, the World War II veteran
left it out in plain view for his three sons and four stepsons to see. "I
know more about his high school than any other part of him," Brad said. "He
lived his high scool years over and over again in our home."
Brad worked a succession of jobs beginning at age 10 that included
delivering newspapers, busing tables, washing dishes and bagging groceries.
Yet, his biggest passion before leaving to attend Bringham Young University
was surfing. "The beach meant more to me than probably anything," Barrett
said. "I wasn't serious about the value of a human being....who was
different than me."
When Brad graduated in 1969 from BYU he had aspirations of being a lawyer.
He served a two-year mission in Peru and Ecuador and gained an appreciation
of the Spanish culture along with a command of the language. Upon his
return, Barrett finished a teacher training program and began teaching
Spanish and History in Alaska where he met Elizabeth Willis.
As he was preparing to go to law school in 1971, Barrett was offered a
teaching job on a Indian Reservation school in Nebraska. He wanted to go but
had to persuade Elizabeth to come along. "He really wanted her, but she was
reluctant," Jeff Barrett said of his son and daughter-in-law. "He said the
job is mine if I could convince this girl."
Barrett not only convinced Elizabeth, but they were married three months
after getting engaged and then three days later they started their new life
together in Nebraska. Barrett loves teaching and is convinced that education
is his passion.
Education was never an option
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 29Aug01 P2
By Peter Ortiz: The Arizona Republic