Head of School, Christopher Barnes

Christopher Barnes

Head of School

BA Colorado College
Appointed: 2016

“We need someone to fill in for so-and-so in dish house or some other job…” is an announcement we hear a few times a week for various reasons, because someone is off on a college visit, not feeling well, or a crew just needs some extra help. Each time it makes me smile, because every time… several students will volunteer to step-up and fill the need. They don’t do it for a gold star or special accolades; they do it because it is what we do. It is a real joy to live and work in a place where everyone is committed to our collective well-being.

After a few years in Norway apprenticing as a wilderness leader, I returned to teach at a small boarding school and spend my summers in the wilds of Colorado and Wyoming leading month-long expeditions. Then Molly, my wife, and I embarked on an 18-year long journey of founding a school – the High Mountain Institute in Leadville Colorado (a semester school that combines academics, wilderness, and small intentional community).

After 20+ years of taking other people’s children on expeditions into the wilds, we decided to do so with our own kids and headed out on a three year sailing expedition to the high latitudes, circumnavigating South America ending up here at Midland in 2016.

I have always believed in the mission of the institutions where I have worked. The world needs Midland to provide an alternative to traditional secondary schools, and even more importantly, the world needs Midland to lead the way in the evolution of independent schools.

I am also a believer in the power of collective effort toward common goals for the greater good. The foundation for these efforts is a strong and mindful community, something I value and work to enhance every day. It is an intense and busy life we live and lead here at Midland, and I like it that way – My life is my work, and work is my life.

Our handrail will always be the mission, both what it includes and what it excludes. Analogous to reading a map, a school has to know where it is, where it wants to go, and how best to get there. The strategic element, which inspires me, is setting the priorities, finding the wherewithal, and acquiring the resources needed to make ongoing incremental progress in support of the mission.

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