Alumni Turned Principal: ERHS Welcomes The Return of Dr. Portia Barnes 


Principal Dr. Barnes in her office.

The academic school year of 2022-23 has been one of change for Eleanor Roosevelt High School. For the first time in fifteen years, Eleanor Roosevelt High School is starting the school year with a new principal. Making history, the new principal, Dr. Portia Barnes, is the first African American female principal to ever lead Roosevelt. Along with a new principal, Roosevelt also received five new Administrators: Ms. Nichole Young, Mr. Joshua Jackson, Ms. Rachelle Jamall, Mr. Jesse Belarde, and last but not least, Ms. Kim Ford. 

Dr. Portia Barnes was a part of the class of ‘89 and is a  graduate of Roosevelt, but returning to Roosevelt was never her plan. She “walked these halls as a teenager never thinking [she] would be here as a principal.” However, that does not mean she doesn’t want to be principal. In fact, she “feels awesome coming back to Roosevelt” and “very excited” to be back because “ it is very much a full circle for [her].”

Her goal as an educator and principal is to encourage people “to know more so they can be better, feel better, and go be a better person.”  For Roosevelt, her main goal is to create a safe learning environment and to ensure she reaches out “to [her] resources to make it better for the building.” As the new principal, she has already done a lot regarding the safety of Roosevelt, one of her main concerns being the morning traffic. She spoke to the Chief of Safety and “hopes he follows up on some suggestions he made to [her].” Acton has already been taken in regards to student safety when walking on street. Thanks to Dr. Barnes, a new sidewalk has been built making a safer place for students to walk.

Dr. Barnes also hopes to connect with the students of ERHS. With all the duties of the start of a school year, she is aware that she hasn’t yet“ had the maximum platform to interact with students.” As an educator, principal, and person, what she “enjoys most is being able to get to know the students, but at the same time keeping everybody safe.” 

Although some students have been weary about the change of principals, others, like senior class president Praise Odiaka, have been embracing this change. 

One thing he’s taken note of is Dr. Barnes’s inclusion of student representation. “With the creation of the new [Student Government Association], the voice of the students has increased tremendously,” Odiaka shared. When asked about his hopes for this year, Odiaka was excited to add that “events that [he hasn’t] seen since [his] freshman year will be making a comeback, along with events that have never been seen at Roosevelt.”

Furthermore, Alvero Alvaro Ceron-Ruiz, an active member of the student board did a great job highlighting specific changes and improvements Barnes has made as principal. He includes that  “She plans to release a principal’s action committee, “ which will a allow students to have direct access to [her].. This is a positive change that allows students to be heard, thus showing that Dr. Barns cares about considering students’ opinions/suggestions.

Overall, Eleanor Roosevelt High School is slowly but surely embracing the change in principal and assistant principals. Roosevelt is opening it’s arms to former graduate Dr. Portia Barnes once more.