Motivated students, open communication sought by Bartlett at FHS

Town, area leaders see ‘truth’ in FHS changes

Dr. John Bartlett (standing), new principal at Farragut High School, makes a point about the direction of FHS during a special gathering of area leaders in the school’s library classroom Friday, Sept. 20. From left are retired 2nd District U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr.; Doug Horne, prominent developer and owner/founder of Horne Properties, Inc., Horne Radio, LLC, and Republic Newspapers, Inc., parent company of farragutpress; and Farragut Mayor Ron Williams.
To see “people in their truth,” especially high school students, means “a lot of times they’ll make a mistake,” new Farragut High School principal Dr. John Bartlett said.

However, a student “in her truth” was fighting back tears of joy while sharing a new personable side of FHS faculty and administration.

“The past three years, personally, has been really tough for me,” but after the first day of school this year, “I went home and I was crying tears of joy,” said Lucy Watkins, one of six high achieving FHS seniors among a special gathering of community leaders, fellow administrators and teachers in the school’s library classroom Friday afternoon, Sept. 20.

“ … I had an awesome day. The principal knew my name, my teachers knew my name,” she added. “… We are so lucky to have (Bartlett). He wants you guys here to know, ‘we are people, too,’ we’re not just numbers.”

For every student, “somebody in this building should know their name and story,” Bartlett said.

New challenges

The new challenge among FHS teachers, counselors and administrators — with new leadership at the top — is to encourage good attitude and great effort among its 1,980 students while helping them learn from failure and punishable mistakes.

“We see them in their truth, and we have a choice when they do: either we reject that person or we redeem that person,” Bartlett said.

To respond “in a redemptive way is to say, ‘Yes, you made a mistake — and there’s going to be some punishment and some consequences — but we’re going to pursue your heart and we’re going to do it in love,” he added. “… We’re going to do it in a way that you understand that we care about you as a person.

“… We’re not blind to the problems they bring to the table, the struggles they bring to the table. The struggles we bring to the table.”

Bartlett said he also wants his students to apply themselves to the point where “they fail; we want them to fail — in fact I’m asking them to fail, I’m begging them to fail.

“Failure builds character development, but it also helps with success,” the FHS principal added. “… Because I want them to get back up and go again.

“Building resilience in kids.”

In summation, “Success is the natural outcome of hard work, failure, talent and persistence,” Bartlett said.

As for his demands from students, “I demand great attitude and great effort every day,” he said. “Those are two things they can control.”

In terms of keeping a steady course, “This school is famous, in the last 15 to 20 years, for producing AP Scholars, National Merit Scholars, stuff like that,” Bartlett said. “We have 15 National Merit Semi-finalists this year.”

But with an enrollment of 1,980, Bartlett said each of those students “is important,” despite grade- point average or any other student measuring stick of success.

“But we’re also going to challenge them.”