— By SALLY SEXTON
Education has been an integral part of Marsha Barber’s life. For the last two decades, her education focus has been on Trinity Christian Academy, a Bible-based, college preparatory Christian school Barber founded in 1993.
But in a few months, Barber will relinquish the reins as director of development for the school when she retires May 31.
“I’ve been slowly cutting back each day and passing off duties to make the transition a little smoother,” Barber says of her remaining months with Trinity Christian. “It’s a great way to leave good people in charge.”
Barber got her start in the education field teaching at the elementary level in area public schools, including Saginaw ISD.
She said the transition from public to private school, on top of going from faculty to administration, was a tough one.
“I’m a really good example of how God can use anybody because this was a situation that worked out for me,” Barber said.
On top of earning her bachelor’s at Texas Christian University, Barber also received her master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston and a doctorate in educational administration with an emphasis on Christian education from Oral Roberts University, an experience she says helped her even more in administration.
“I just learned so much from some of the other administrators,” Barber said. “It’s very rare for an administrator to stay at a school for so long, because most people just move on to other jobs or aren’t the right fit.
“It was an option, but never a consideration for me.”
Barber recalls what it was like 20 years ago getting the school, which is located alongside Trinity Bible Church off I-20 in Willow Park, off the ground. When the school was formed, it had just 10 students.
“I remember the gravel parking lot and this small building that couldn’t even be seen from the highway,” she said. “[Trinity Bible Church] let us use some of their classrooms for instruction.”
The institution has flourished over the years, with a current enrollment of around 500 students in grades Pre-K-12.
While academics have continued to excel, new facilities have also improved the school, with a new gym, named the Fred and Marsha Barber Gym, unveiled in May of last year, and a new secondary building to accommodate student growth, which was completed in November of 2011.
Barber said the progress of Trinity Christian paralleled the growth of Willow Park.
“With all of the students we have now, it has given Willow Park a lot of physical benefits, as far as traffic and business,” she said. “We enjoy partnering up with our city. It’s something you definitely wouldn’t be able to do in a bigger city.”
After her retirement, Barber said she plans to do the usual things — relax, spend time with family and, eventually, get updated on what’s going on at Trinity Christian. But Barber still has that education itch, and plans to use her experience as a consultant for other institutions.
“I’ve been through the process, so I know what mistakes not to make now,” she said. “Hopefully, I can help others succeed like I’ve had the opportunity to.”