“After 30 years it’s so hard to say goodbye”


At age three Kathy’s mom knew she wanted to be an educator. As a child she enjoyed playing school with her dolls and stuffed animals.

She grew up in Dekalb County in Atlanta Georgia. Both of her children attend Cobb county schools. Her daughter is a proud 2015 graduate of Harrison High. Kathy believes that Cobb schools provide an excellent education that prepares students for either college or career.

In her 30 year career she taught 1st grade, Kindergarten and Early Intervention Program (EIP). For the past seven years she has served as the parent facilitator at Mableton. This is her 30th and final year in education as she retires in May.

She is encouraged by the number of new and returning “Valuable Volunteers” that attended the training this year. Having parent support in the school helps “Fill the teacher’s buckets.” She would love to see more parents attend the Title I informational meeting and the input meetings. She would also like to see increased attendance for the Parent University meetings and have students encourage their parents to attend.

In September Matt Bennett, from Turn the Page came and spoke to families on increasing family engagement. It was a great turn out and a phenomenal night. Each year it warms her heart to see how community partners support school counselors and social workers to ensure over 100 families receive support each year.

I asked Kathy if she could using her experience offer her colleagues and parents some advice that would help in the years to come after her retirement and here is what she said. “To my colleagues 30 years seems like a lifetime when you are in the beginning of your career, but in reality it is just a “blink” of time.  During this “blink” of time, you have the honor and blessing of influencing and changing so many young lives.  When you think you can’t do it anymore because “Teaching isn’t what it used to be!”, look into the eyes of your students and remember, today I want to be the difference in these lives, give it your all, go home and rest and then come back the next day refreshed and renewed to continue with your calling.  The difference that we make is actually immeasurable in this world of data!

“To the parents There is no manual or guide for parenting.  You don’t have to have a license to be a parent.  You just need a heart that is prepared for all of the joys and sorrows, the ups and downs, the great grades and the “oops, I made a C!”  Know your child and understand that each child is different.  Do what you can to support your child in education, extra-curricular activities and within a family unit.  Be present and involved…whatever that looks like for you!

We would like to Thank Kathy Barela for her many years of service and wish her the absolute best life after retirement! Cobb is the BEST because of people like her!


Kathy Barela, Parent Facilitator
Mableton Elementary (STEAM Certified)

Contributing Authors: Natalie Hutchins, Supervisor Engage I and Renata Hannans, Author of  The Hope Dealer


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