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The new assistant principal at Fountain Hills High School hopes she will be sticking around FHHS and the Fountain Hills Unified School District for the foreseeable future, if the Falcon Flock will have her, she says.

Barrie Pinto has worked in the education field since 1989, but it wasn’t always her aspiration to be in the classroom.

“I was a Team USA athlete, so when I went into college I was a student athlete at Ohio State and I wanted to do something like physical therapy,” Pinto said. “But then I got to the anatomy class and was like, ‘Yeah, I can’t do this.’ I then switched to education; my mother was an educator so I grew up with it.”

Pinto was a gymnast for Team USA for five years and just missed the 1984 Olympic games due to a broken ankle suffered in the qualifiers.

After graduating from Ohio State, Pinto started teaching in Washington, D.C. and knew from the beginning that she would want to advance to the administration level of education.

“I taught at two public schools in the (D.C.) area,” Pinto explained. “I taught middle school English and I loved it right from the get go. I have always been involved in leadership stuff, even as a brand new teacher, so I knew that eventually I would get into administration.”

Pinto taught in the D.C. area for five years until she and her husband made the decision to make a radical change of scenery and move to Brazil.

“My husband was a gymnast for Brazil and we ended up at Ohio State together; I had known him prior from international competitions,” Pinto said. “So he had been living in the U.S. for 10 years and he said that he wanted to go home for a while, that he was a little homesick.”

When Pinto made the decision to move with her husband to Brazil she had pictured that the two would be there for a few years.

Fast-forward two decades and Pinto was still in Rio de Janeiro, teaching and eventually doing administration work at a private school.

Eventually Pinto and her husband made it back stateside and Pinto continued her work in education in Paradise Valley.

Pinto said she was drawn to public schools for their commitment to the students.

“At private schools you can invite students to leave and here (public school) you have to make it work,” Pinto said. “I like that philosophy of being creative and finding what works for the kid as opposed to just turning them away. That always bothered me overseas; it felt like I was giving up in a way.”

While Pinto wasn’t a fan of that aspect of the private world, she did enjoy the small size of the classes and the relationships she could make with students.

That is one of the reasons FHHS was so attractive to her.

“You can really be individual and really focused on the kid,” Pinto said. “Here, with there only being one high school, we have a lot more freedom to get things done with creative solutions. That is what really attracted me, to have that ability to use my creativity and flexibility to make it work for each individual student.”

Pinto began her new role on July 15 and has already felt a strong welcoming from the FHUSD community.

“I am really thrilled to be a new member of the community and I am looking forward to building relationships with families and students,” Pinto said. “I already feel so welcomed that I think that will be the easiest part of my job. It is my intention to build relationships that last longer than a year.”