With deep roots in the school, G.R. Hampton announces Courtney Barnhill as principal

Courtney Barnhill portrait

G.R. Hampton Elementary School proudly announces Courtney Barnhill as its new principal. With a 23-year background in education within Knox County, Barnhill brings a wealth of experience and a deeply rooted commitment to student success.

Courtney Barnhill portrait

“I would like to add that this is not just a place where I work, but also a part of me,” shared Barnhill.

She stated that when the school was built, her grandmother, Etta Jarvis, was one of the first teachers hired. When she retired, Barnhill’s mother, Joetta Gaunt, took her place.

“I come from a long line of strong educators, and I am proud to have had them as my role models,” said Barnhill.

The family tradition continues. After having grown up in the hallways and classrooms, both her children and niece were also ‘born and raised to be Cougars’.

“So, to say I am thrilled and thankful is an understatement,” expressed Barnhill.  “This is so much more than my job, this school, the staff, and these students are truly my family.”

Her beginning years were as a classroom teacher in the primary and then as a reading and on-demand writing teacher in 5th and 6th grades. She then took a Reading Recovery Interventionist job for three years before stepping into her current role of curriculum coach.

Her experience goes beyond her time in the classroom and helping grow teachers.

“I have coached our school’s MTSS Team, our PBIS Team, acted as the assessment coordinator, been on our school’s leadership team, served on the district’s Literacy team, and worked to help develop our district’s consolidated plan,” just to name a few Barnhill added.

Barnhill explained that the mission statement at G.R. is, “Every child, every day.”

“Throughout my work as a curriculum coach, I have worked extremely hard to carry out our vision of continued success for our students. I have collaborated with my fellow curriculum coaches, who are truly the best group you could have in place, and worked hard with our district support staff to create plans for every single student to be successful.”

She shared that she looks forward to working closely with other schools in Knox County to make our goal of becoming a Top 10% District a reality.  

We had the opportunity to do a brief Q&A so that students, families and the community could learn more about Mrs. Barnhill:

Question: G.R. Hampton has been consistently building a reputation of excellence – what are your plans to continue to the next level?

Answer: For years, I have been extremely dedicated to helping our school remain a top-performing school. This is something I have a very personal stake in and I feel driven to work harder now, than ever, to ensure we continue to hold our staff and our students to high expectations. Changing my title only offers more motivation to continue to offer our students an education that helps each and every student become the very best version of themselves. I want to see our school continue to strive to support our students academically, socially, and emotionally and see them love learning at G.R.H!

Question: You’re curriculum coach and we have just a few weeks until testing. What are your key priorities going into the next month?

Answer: My key priorities as principal have not changed at all from what they were as a curriculum coach. We will stay the course and keep to our game plan of remaining a top performing school. We celebrated our tests scores this past year for one day and then we were ready to get back to work. There are always areas we can improve on, just as we always hope to push our top-performing students even further. Before Spring Break, we really worked together to focus on planning instruction to ensure our teachers and students had covered everything they needed to before KSA (and MAP for our K-2 students). Then, we really analyzed the KSA blueprints to see what built-in review we needed to offer to fully support our students and help them feel confident and prepared for the KSA ahead of them. Our entire staff has worked so hard this year to make sure our students have grown and are going to be successful as we look ahead to end of year testing. I have a very personal stake in this school, and a proven track record of not only being successful in the classroom, but also as curriculum coach. I will use this experience to help me better support our teachers and our students. Our goal this year is to hit triple digits on the KSA, and we will work hard until the very last minute to try and achieve that goal!

Question:  What do you want current and future students to know? Many already know you well, what should they know about you as their principal?

Answer: Our current students should have zero doubt that Mrs. Barnhill loves them already. I don’t just want our students to know that they are at a high-performing school that has high academic expectations. I want each student to really want to be at school each day and look forward to learning. I want each student to feel safe, loved, and supported by me and by the staff when they walk through those doors each morning. I want there to be no doubt that every single student matters to all of us at G.R.H. This is what builds the culture and our school family that our school is known for.

For our new students and families, I want them to know that I will work hard to take the time to learn the names of all of our new students and parents with an open-door policy. I promise to always champion for every child with every decision made. I will work hard to build relationships with every new face that enters our building because I want even our newest and youngest Cougars to know that our school will work hard to help each of them be successful at a place that truly puts students first.

Question: What do you want the community to know?

Answer: To our community, our entire school is grateful for all of the support throughout the years.  It truly does take a village to raise a child and Knox County has one of the best villages around.  We have so many generous volunteers and community sponsors that I could never list everyone that has helped our school and our students.  We have a rich history of annual family engagement events that almost become like a huge homecoming for our community that I look forward to each year.  And, I may have a few new ones already in the works for next year.  We want our community engagement opportunities to get bigger and better each year to keep building those community connections for G. R. Hampton.  

Get to Know Her and Her Family

A group photograph of the Barnhill family.

I am married to my husband Brian, the principal at Dewitt Elementary, and together we have five children and two bonus children.

Peyton Barnhill is the oldest and is a Knox County Middle School Social Studies teacher and is married to his wife Taylon, a librarian at LMU. 

Libby Vaughn will be graduating in a few short weeks and will be receiving her degree as a Doctor of Occupational Therapy from LMU. 

Hallea Imel is currently in her second year of dental school at UK and lives in Lexington with husband, Brayden Imel, a Physician’s Assistant at UK. 

Cameron Vaughn just completed pilot school at ATP in Indiana, and is looking forward to getting his hours in to become a pilot.

And the youngest is Hannah Barnhill, completing her second year of college at LMU and hopes to also go into dentistry. 

My husband and I are active members of Turkey Creek Baptist Church where we are the current Awana leaders and work in our Pairs and Spares Sunday School class. 

We love to travel to new places and to spend time with our family, including our dog Beau.